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HAIL Hodge. Laud Luke. Get a Hawk on your fork.

Yep, the Hawthorn skipper and multi-award winner has capped his career with a win over Saints superstar Nick Riewoldt in our poll to find the No.1 number one pick in NAB AFL Draft history.

Surely now he has no option but to retire at his peak.

Hodge triumphed over Riewoldt in the second closest race of the entire contest, which saw more than a quarter of a million votes cast overall and the name Richard Lounder thrust into the public arena for the first time since 1987, the year of the Black Monday stock market crash, which may or may not have been directly related to the selection of the "tree with legs" as that year's top draft pick.

The grassroots campaign to see Clive Waterhouse and his epic white-blond mullet voted as the best No.1 draft pick failed, but it was a glorious failure, with the "Keep Clive Alive" social media/doorknocking/cold-calling effort seeing its hero progress all the way to the quarter-finals.

The tightest race was Jeremy Cameron's victory over David Swallow in the round of 16, while the blowout was Riewoldt's demolition of Josh Fraser in the same round.

This is one contest that literally couldn't have happened without you, so thanks for voting! You can click anywhere on the image below to open the final bracket in a new tab.

Luke Hodge voted the NAB AFL Draft's number one No.1

We've come a long way, baby

Here's a thought: if not for Fremantle, would the outcome of this tournament have been the same?

In 2001, the draft was already a professional business. Thirteen years earlier, the No.1 pick was drafted by the reigning premier but only found out about it from a friend.

In a recent interview with AFL.com.au, Alex McDonald – the former Hawthorn and Collingwood player and now a leading player agent – also revealed he was unaware the Hawks had landed 1988's No.1 selection after trading three players to bottom side St Kilda.

Footy, and recruiting, came a long way in 13 years.

Heading into 2001's famous superdraft, the Dockers held prime position, boasting picks No.1 and 4. But they were seduced when the Hawks came knocking.

Key position players Trent Croad and Luke McPharlin went west, and Hawthorn landed the No.1 selection, along with two later picks - one of which they used to take Sam Mitchell.

Hodge's crowning as the ultimate No.1 draft pick intensifies one of footy's longest debates: did the Hawks take the right man in that superdraft?

Until recent times it was barely a debate at all because West Coast and Carlton great Chris Judd, the No.3 pick that year, was comfortably clear of Hodge, followed by St Kilda and Collingwood's Luke Ball.

The past two seasons have swung the momentum, and the outcome of the argument, Hodge's way.

In that time Judd's injury-induced downgrading to mortal status has coincided with Hodge's rise through the troposphere.

Having skippered the Hawks to back-to-back flags and won a second Norm Smith Medal, he is now widely considered the AFL's best leader.

Whether Hodge's career would have glittered as brightly in Perth, and whether Hodge the Docker would have topped our voting this week, is a hypothetical we could vote on all day.

Regardless, the Hawks have long been comfortable with their call.

There were 13 years between McDonald's and Hodge's arrivals at Hawthorn, and another 13 years have since passed. It's been 13 years lucky for Luke Hodge.

How you voted

Round one: The Flounder flops
Clive's alive: the round of 16
Quarter-finals: death of a hashtag
Semi-finals: Boof! Bam! Kapow!
Grand final: It's tight at the top

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