KNOCKABOUT defender Ben Stratton was overcome with emotion as he broke the news to his parents on Wednesday night that he was Hawthorn's new captain.
Stratton, who turns 30 on Friday, was one of six Hawks who emerged from a player vote as candidates to be the 36th captain in the club's VFL/AFL history.
Coach Alastair Clarkson, football boss Graham Wright, football director Richie Vandenberg – who captained Hawthorn from 2005-07 – and a number of others then selected Stratton.
The 169-gamer moved into the leadership group for the first time last season, supporting past skipper Jarryd Roughead and co-vice-captains Isaac Smith and Liam Shiels.
Stratton is the club's first West Australian-raised skipper, capping an extraordinary rise since the Hawks plucked him WAFL club East Perth as a 20-year-old almost a decade ago.
"It feels pretty awesome and it's a massive privilege," Stratton told reporters at Waverley Park on Thursday.
"I found out (on Wednesday) night, so it was pretty cool to ring mum and dad (Mary-Lynne and Peter) and let the family know, ring the sister (Sarah-Jane) and stuff like that – that was a really proud moment.
"But then it's back to business today, after I've done all this media stuff that I'm not too fond about doing … just back to footy life and into games pretty soon."
Each Hawthorn footballer lodged their captaincy preference on a 5-4-3-2-1 basis on Tuesday and will share their choice with their teammates in the coming weeks.
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Smith and Shiels were externally considered the favourites to step up, mostly due to their title in 2018, but Stratton was consistently speculated as a serious option.
He also sacrificed his much-loved mullet in the off-season for a more closely cropped look, possibly – or not – as an outward sign he was putting his hat in the ring.
In scruffier times: Ben Stratton with his 2018 mullet and three-day growth. Picture: AFL Photos
Jack Gunston will serve as Stratton's deputy, with Smith, Shiels and newcomers Jaeger O'Meara and Ben McEvoy rounding out the club's official leaders.
Stratton told AFL.com.au last year how much he was enjoying the newest phase of his career after being part of the Hawks' premiership three-peat from 2013-15.
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"I haven't enjoyed my footy as much as I have the first few rounds of this year, especially being out (for so much of) last year," he said at the time.
"It's just a different stage of footy and my life … that block of my football (winning three flags) has been and gone, and now it's moving into a new stage, which I'm really excited about."
Four-time premiership coach Alastair Clarkson hailed Stratton's appointment, saying he was held in "really high regard" at Waverley Park.
"Some of his best qualities will relate to who he is as a person and his values and behaviours," Clarkson said.
"But over the journey of his football career at the Hawthorn Football Club – and probably his upbringing back in WA – it's all been about being respected and not liked.
"If you can be liked along the way, that's a bonus, but it was all about respect and making enormous sacrifices for those around him.
"He doesn't care so much about himself as an individual as he does about his mates, and that's why it's such an endearing quality that has all his teammates just loving playing with this guy."
Clarkson tipped the underrated backman to be an "outstanding captain".
His excellent season last year came after he played only eight games in 2017 because of a knee injury.
"I'm probably not as outspoken as, say, a Sam Mitchell and people like that," Stratton said.
"He's a bit of a student of the game.
"I sort of lead by my actions, I suppose, and that's held me in fairly good stead throughout my career – and that's what you get the respect from the boys from."
Stratton was named Hawthorn's most consistent player in 2013 and its best clubman two years later, before accepting Hawks life membership last year.