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Hawthorn's unsung hero

Clarko praises 'underrated' Stratts Alastair Clarkson recalls Ben Stratton's game turning tackle back in the 2012 Preliminary Final.

Ben Stratton’s career statistics so far:

Games: 169
Premierships: 3
Disposals: 2128
Marks: 719
Spoils: 826
Brownlow votes:

Yep, you read that last line correctly. Despite being one of the game’s most consistent backmen for the past eight years, despite registering more spoils than any Hawthorn general defender since statistics have been recorded, despite featuring in three premiership teams, our Stratts has never registered a Brownlow vote.

That time he lined up against the dangerous Eddie Betts in his 200th game, and kept the prolific goal scorer to just seven possessions and the equal fewest scoring shots of his season? No votes. They went to Patrick Dangerfield, Luke Hodge and Jonathan Simpkin. 

That time he kept All Australian Bulldog Jake Stringer to one mark and one goal in Round 3 2016, to help the Hawks win by three points? No votes. This time it was Luke Dahlhaus, Marcus Adam and Sam Mitchell who collected on Brownlow night. 

And what about in Round 20 this year, where the man racked up a game-high 11 intercept possessions and a team-high 11 marks, as again and again he acted as an impenetrable force across half back, starving the Bombers’ forwards of opportunity and contributing to his side’s four-point win?

NO VOTES.

This time, it was Jack Gunston, Tom Mitchell and Zac Merrett who received the honours. 

Now, we’re certainly not saying that any of these players were undeserving – they richly deserved the recognition after dominating possession and impacting the scoreboard. 

Read: All the Hawks' votes

But it’s just another reminder that it’s a tough world out there for defenders. 

Stratton was not the only one snubbed on Brownlow night; Alex Rance, full back of the 2018 All Australian team, did not poll a vote. Sydney premiership defender Nick Smith also set the unwanted record for most AFL games without a single vote (211 games, passing Geelong’s Tom Lonergan on 209).

While we doubt any of these players are too concerned about their number of votes (or lack there of), they deserve to be acknowledged.

So, here’s to you, Ben Stratton. Your work doesn’t go unnoticed by those supporting the brown and gold. 

 

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