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The rise of Ben Stratton

Ben Stratton 150 Games The premiership defender will notch up 150 games this week against the Demons.

With fan favourite Ben Stratton set to notch up his 150th game milestone this weekend, we thought we'd look back over his journey to the gutsy, mullet-sporting leader we know today...

Read: Stratts notches up 150


A 20-year old Ben Stratton played 20 games for WAFL club East Perth in 2009. Averaging 11.7 disposals and 3.6 marks, Stratton built a reputation as a strong one-on-one player with good pace, who had the ability to play tall or small. Touted as one of the stronger lockdown defenders in his draft, he was selected with pick 46 in the national draft later that year. 


After a stand-out first pre-season in which the strong-running Stratton thrived, the Western Australian was rewarded with a Round 3 debut. Stratton pulled on the brown and gold jumper against the Western Bulldogs, gathering 15 disposals in a 16-point loss. When the Hawks met the Bulldogs again in Round 14, Stratton’s 19-disposal, seven-mark performance earned him a Rising Star nomination. Five weeks later, in Round 19 against Sydney, Stratton kicked his first goal and, amazingly, is yet to kick one since. The 21-year old rounded out an outstanding debut season by winning Hawthorn’s ‘Best First Year Player’ award. 


Entering his third season at the club, Stratton started the year strongly with back-to-back 14-disposal performances in the opening fortnight. But in Round 3, disaster struck as the defender dislocated his kneecap in a third-quarter collision during the Hawks' 63-point win over Richmond. Stratton courageously returned later in the year to play the final game of the home and away season and two of the Hawks finals.


After an injury-interrupted season the year previous, Stratton rebounded strongly to play all 25 games for the Hawks in 2012. Hawthorn’s qualifying final against Collingwood marked Stratton’s 50th AFL match as the Hawthorn ran away 38-point victors. Two weeks later, he laid a match-saving tackle on Patrick Dangerfield in the Hawks’ preliminary final win over Adelaide. 


Stratton again played every game of the season, as he notched up his 50th consecutive game in the first qualifying final against Sydney. This run was to end at 52 games after he missed the opening month of 2014. But this was not before Stratton won his first premiership medallion as the Hawks overcame Fremantle by 15 points. He was also named the club’s Most Consistent Player as a reward for his durability and reliability in defence. 


The defender played only four of the first 13 games for the season after struggling with hamstring and adductor injuries. But Stratton’s stop-start beginning to the season did little to hinder his run, stopping in-form forwards Sam Reid and Stewart Crameri in Rounds 17 and 19 respectively. Stratton was again at his dependable best throughout the Hawks final campaign, which culminated in a back-to-back premiership win. 


Stratton registered the most one-percenters of any season in his career in 2015, averaging 5.6 throughout his 24 games. He continued to build his name as one of the stingiest defenders in the competition and, at the end of the season, was awarded Best Clubman. Stratton played his 100th game against Sydney in Round 8, although the Swans ruined celebrations as they won by four points. Across the year, the defender also had four attempts at adding to his career goals tally but all four instead sailed through for a behind. A stand-out individual year was capped off with his third premiership medallion.


With the retirement of Brian Lake in 2015, Ben Stratton was forced to take on more responsibility in the Hawks back six in 2016. Perhaps the highlight of his year was in Round 3, when the defender kept Bulldog Jake Stringer to one mark and one goal in what was to be an All Australian year for the forward. Stratton’s value to the Hawks was highlighted when he missed the final month of the home and away season with a pectoral muscle injury.


After playing in every game of the opening two months, Stratton suffered a season-ending knee injury in the Round 8 clash against Brisbane. Along with James Frawley and Cyril Rioli, Stratton formed an important trio that all went down for the Hawks on a disappointing day in Tasmania.



Stratton has started off season 2018 strongly. Despite the loss, the 29-year old was one of the Hawks best performed players against Richmond in Round 3 with an impressive 10 one-percenters. The defender has been at his defensive best so far this year, averaging a career-high 8.3 one-percenters.

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs