Hawthorn will farewell two premiership heroes this week with Ben Stratton and Paul Puopolo making the decision to retire at season’s end.
Stratton and Puopolo’s incredible contributions to the brown and gold will be celebrated on Sunday with both players to pull on the boots one last time in the Hawks’ final game of the 2020 season.
Both Stratton and Puopolo will retire as one club players with three premiership medallions to their name.
The Hawk’s veterans were acquired by the Hawks as mature age recruits in the 2009 and 2010 National Drafts respectively. Each of them quickly went on to cement their place in the side before rising to the ultimate success and playing important roles across the club’s three-peat era.
Stratton’s reputation as a tough nut and clever defender was established early and has continued to be his trademark ever since. The 31-year-old took over the captaincy reigns from good mate Jarryd Roughead in 2019 and will lead the team out for one final time against Gold Coast.
Known for his pressure and intensity, Puopolo was a key cog in the Hawks’ forward structure through its premiership era. Puopolo brought exceptional reliability to the side, playing 20 games in all but two seasons of his decade long career.
Senior Coach Alastair Clarkson praised both men for their outstanding contribution to the brown and gold.
“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,” said Clarkson.
“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 amongst his peers and also the broader footy world.
“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 in the side 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.
“Both Stratts and Poppy were drafted to the club as mature age recruits and are fantastic role models for what you can achieve if you have belief and determination.
“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.
“I’m thrilled that we will have the opportunity to see them pull on the boots one last time on Sunday and I know their teammates and our members are excited for the chance to farewell them.
“On behalf of the club I would like to thank Stratts and his fiancé Laura, and Poppy and his wife Carmel and daughter Giselle for the sacrifices and contributions they have made to our club.
“They will always be a part of the Hawthorn family and will forever be welcome at our club.”
Stratton and Puopolo will both farewell the club and the game this Sunday, when they play in their final AFL match against Gold Coast at Adelaide Oval.