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Strattom Tackles Eddie Betts

At the end of Round 17, three more players announced their retirements- Hawks Ben Stratton and Paul Puopolo and Carlton defender Kade Simpson. Both Stratton and "Poppy" were selected as mature-age recruits in the 2009 and 2010 drafts respectively. Both quickly cemented their positions in the side and were part of the club/s incredible run of success, Stratton as a tough and clever defender, Puopolo as a reliable forward who could apply plenty of pressure on opposition defenders. Stratton, 31, assumed the captaincy in 2019 when Jarryd Roughead retired at the end of 2019.

Senior Coach Alastair Clarkson praised both men for their outstanding contribution, “Stratts and Poppy are exceptional examples of Hawthorn people, each with an incredible work ethic and each highly respected among our playing group and within our club. “Stratts is the sort of guy you want beside you when you go into battle. He is relentless, selfless and will never stop competing. He never fails to take a teammates-first approach and it is these qualities that make him so highly valued ... “Poppy is an incredibly resilient player and person. He came to us as a defender and leaves the game a master of the pressure forward role. For most of his career, Poppy was always the first name selected ... each week because you could never doubt the intensity, energy and pressure he would bring to the game. Poppy is an amazing example of how far hard work and perseverance can take you in your career ... As a coach, they are both players you love to have in your side. They never give in and they will put absolutely everything on the line for their teammates and the club ...".

BEN STRATTON
Games: 201
GOALS: 1
HONORS: Rising Star nominee 2010, premierships 2013, 2014, 2015

PAUL PUOPOLO
GAMES: 196
GOALS: 182
HONORS: Premierships 2013, 2014, 2015

Although Stratton and Puopolo are retiring, Hawk fans can rejoice in the fact that Shaun Burgoyne, at the age of 37, has signed on for one final season. 2021, his 20th year as a player, will also see him take up a part-time advisory role with Epic Good, an indigenous program with which Hawthorn has had a partnership since 2015 and that partnership has been extended for another five years.

Ever-reliable and durable Carlton defender Kade Simpson will also retire. Simpson, 36, was drafted in 2002 and is the last player from that draft year still standing so to speak. Also testament to his durability is the fact he played 158 consecutive games from 2005 to 2012, a Carlton record and the third longest streak in league history. In Round Four this year, Simpson further cemented his place in Blues’ immortality when he surpassed club and league legend John Nicholls to be in third spot on the club's games list. Only Bruce Doull and Craig Bradley are ahead of him. In Round 16 he played his 340th game which put him into the top 20 for most games played in league history, alongside former Adelaide Crow Andrew McLeod.

Of his career he said, "I never believed when I was drafted that I’d still be playing 18 years later. It’s something that hopefully down the track I’ll look back on and appreciate but right now I just want to thank everyone who has helped me, on and off the field ... Also thank you to my wife Diana and my family. The support I have received from you has never wavered. You have helped me through the toughest challenges and it has been great to share all the good times with you. It has been an honor to play for ... Carlton ... This place has been my home for such a long time and I’ve never taken for granted what it has meant to run out ... in front of what is the most passionate supporter base in the AFL. Thank you to all our members and supporters - the noise and passion you’ve shown at our games is among my greatest memories."

Simpson's former teammate and now coach David Teague said, "Many have come and gone ... over the last 18 years but Simmo has been our one constant who has never failed to represent our guernsey with class. You look at Simmo’s build when he walked through the doors in 2002, nobody would have believed that guy would go on to play the third most games in the history of our football club. What we didn’t know then was the size of Simmo’s heart, his absolute, never-say-die commitment to get the job done for his teammates, his coaches and our members and supporters. He has given everything he possibly can ... This club simply could not have asked for any more from him and for that we will forever be grateful ... Simmo will rightly take his place amongst the greatest players to ever wear the navy blue ... ".

GAMES: 342
GOALS: 139

HONORS
AFL preseason premiership: 2005, 2007
AFL Rising Star nominee: 2005
International Rules Series: 2006, 2008, 2010
Jim Stynes Medal: 2008 (best on ground in International Rules)
John Nicholls Medalist (club best and fairest): 2013
John Nicholls Medal runner-up: 2016, 2018
3rd Best and Fairest: 2014
Carlton vice-captain: 2013-2014, 2016
Women of Carlton Player Ambassador Award: 2015
Carltonians High Achiever Award: 2014, 2016
Inner Blue Ruthless Award: 2013, 2016

Sources: Megan Croucber, Hawtborn Media Release, afl.com.au, AFL Record Season Guide

Article last changed on Friday, January 15, 2021 - 12:08 AM EST


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