Barry Cable (76 games as senior coach for North Melbourne from 1981-84) and Graham ‘Polly’ Farmer (66 games for Geelong from 1973-75) are the only indigenous predecessors in VFL-AFL history.
“If you’d asked me five years ago I would’ve said 100 per cent I want to be a senior coach,” Clarke said.
“But now being involved in the AFL system for five years you understand the work that goes into it and the experience you need. I’m in no rush.”
Clarke coached NT Thunder to the 2015 premiership before joining Punt Rd in 2017, where he has helped the Tigers win three AFL flags.
“We’ve got guys like Andrew McQualter and Adam Kingsley and Sam Lonergan, who is in his first year as an assistant,” Clarke said.
“We all want to get there at some point. I’ve been fortunate that I’ve been able to coach my own team at state-league level, so that gives me experience coaching my own team.”
Clarke said the “raw numbers” showed there was a gross underrepresentation of indigenous coaches.
Last year West Coast parted with development coach Chance Bateman, while Fremantle development coach Roger Hayden moved into the club’s community engagement team.
Varcoe’s arrival at Whitten Oval coincided with No. 1 pick Jamarra Ugle-Hagan joining the Bulldogs as the club’s only indigenous player.
“There’s myself and Travis Varcoe in a coaching capacity, and then Matty Whelan at Melbourne as programs manager and Nathan Lovett-Murray is doing some stuff behind the scenes at the Saints,” Clarke said.
“It’s not for everyone. In saying that, I look at some of the guys that maybe coming towards the end of their careers in Shaun Burgoyne and potentially Eddie Betts — having those guys as development forward coaches or midfield coaches, how good would they be?
“I think Shane Edwards would be an unbelievable assistant coach because he sees the game so well — and he probably doesn’t even think that.
“Sometime players may not see they have the ability to have that impact.”
Edwards is so highly-regarded at Tigerland that there is a belief he would flourish in a range of football roles.
Former Fremantle coach Ross Lyon has also backed indigenous superstar Michael Walters to become a senior AFL coach one day.
Legend floats idea for national Dreamtime celebration
Essendon legend Michael Long says the 17-hour sellout of Perth Stadium for Saturday night’s Dreamtime in the west showed the marquee match does not have to be locked into the MCG.
Last year’s Darwin Dreamtime produced a special spectacle and 20,000 West Australians are set to join Long on his walk from the WACA Ground on Saturday after embracing the all-Victorian blockbuster.
“That’s one of the things we’ve learnt from the last couple of days,” Long said on Friday.
“We’d like to celebrate that with every player, it doesn’t matter if you play for Essendon or Richmond, we’d like to promote all players.
“Who knows? We might bring this idea up to Gill (McLachlan) that we could do it in every state so we recognise all our champions.”
Brownlow Medallist Gavin Wanganeen also said there was merit in occasionally sharing the iconic fixture.
“It’s such a good question – do we move the Dreamtime game around more often away from the ‘G?” Wanganeen said.
“It’s so special at the ‘G. Nearly 100,000 people every time, the impact … it’s very hard, it’s a tough one.
“But I do see merit in moving it around as well. I don’t want to be involved in that decision, I don’t envy Gill and the guys there.”
Long met Bombers players this week to discuss the significance of his culture and the impact made by coaching great Kevin Sheedy, who helped create the Richmond-Essendon showpiece event.
“We talked about the indigenous round and what the club’s done to pave the way and lead the way in all different aspects, on the field as well as off the field and influencing our supporters,” Long said.
“Whether it’s racism (or whatever). It’s changed, the culture.”
Wanganeen heaped praise on new coach Ben Rutten for implementing a brand new game plan that had the Bombers on the path to glory. He tipped the Bombers to break a 10-game losing streak against Richmond.
“Over a fair period now the Bombers have been missing a brand of footy that’s going to hurt the opposition,” Wanganeen said.
“Now that it’s here – and full credit to Truck (Rutten) and his assistants, to find a brand of footy that’s really going to hurt the opposition – sticking with it is the key.
“That’s when you’re going to start pushing for top four and finals and premiership glory. If they can just keep that going, the young guys are obviously going to get experience and get better as youngsters.
“It’s an attacking brand, they move it quickly, so they ask a lot of the opposition backs.
“But playing that style of footy and being true to that is the key.”
How Winmar’s pride changed life for Indigenous Aussies
St Kilda trailblazer Nicky Winmar is “a black Superman” to Indigenous Australians and is still making a difference almost three decades on from his Victoria Park stand against racism, according to former Essendon player Nathan Lovett-Murray.
Lovett-Murray was one of the driving forces behind a new documentary, The Ripple Effect, on Winmar’s extraordinary moment when he raised his Saints jumper and pointed at his bare skin, saying: “I’m black and I’m proud” after a game against Collingwood in 1993.
The documentary, which will air on Channel 7 following Saturday’s Dreamtime match between Essendon and Richmond in Perth, was created by award-winning filmmaker Peter Dickson, with Lovett-Murray acting as executive producer.
Lovett-Murray has been St Kilda’s Indigenous liaison for the past two years and he convinced the club it needed to help document Winmar’s story and incorporate it into a schools’ program to promote tolerance and stamp out racism.
“I remember when it happened and remember my family members talking about it and how they felt watching it,” said Lovett-Murray, who was almost 11 at the time.
“He (Winmar) was like a Black Superman.
“He stood up to the racists and pointed to his skin which was such a significant gesture.
“That’s how it felt for me as an Aboriginal boy and it’s how it still feels now.”
Having worked with Essendon great Michael Long on The Long Walk and various other programs, Lovett-Murray wanted to see Winmar’s story become a part of a schools’ program.
“From my experiences at Essendon and what we did with Michael Long … coming to the Saints (as Indigenous liaison) I thought this is a no-brainer,” he said.
“This is what we should be doing for Nicky.
“The club has done some stuff in the past with Nick, but there was nothing really concrete. So my main aim was to create an educational program that we can take into the schools and educate people about racism.”
The Ripple Effect, which features other Indigenous and multicultural athletes including Nova Peris, Bachar Houli and Josh Addo-Carr, will feature in a condensed form as part of the Point + Be Proud program. The program will start in 10 schools later this year, with plans to see it go state and nationwide in the coming years.
“It is something that happened 30 years ago and yet we are still talking about it now,” he said. “It has definitely had a massive impact on society.
“The next 30 years are going to be massive for Nicky, too, with the schools’ program we have created called Point + Be Proud as we try to educate the next generation.”
Lovett-Murray is the great-grandson of Sir Doug Nicholls – the pioneer whom the AFL honoured by naming its Indigenous Round after.
He says Australian football and society has come a long way since the Winmar moment, but still has so much further to go.
“At times it feels like we take one step forward and then there will be a racial incident, and we take two steps back,” he said
“Racism is bullying and anyone who has been through bullying, they have to know where they can get the support.”
The Ripple Effect will air on Channel 7 in Melbourne and Adelaide at 11pm on Saturday night, after the Dreamtime game, as well as 7mate in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth.