Pioneers part of the journey to stardom for Dustin Martin

2009 FLASHBACK: Bendigo Pioneers' team-mates Dustin Martin, James Keeble and captain Kallen Geary.
2009 FLASHBACK: Bendigo Pioneers' team-mates Dustin Martin, James Keeble and captain Kallen Geary.

RICHMOND’S Dustin Martin has got a bulging football CV littered with accolades  – the latest of which is the 2017 Brownlow Medal.

However, one award that eluded Martin on his path to AFL superstardom was the Bendigo Pioneers’ Neville Strauch Memorial best and fairest Trophy.

Martin only played one full season with the Pioneers in 2009 under coach Mark Ellis.

It was a season good enough for Richmond to select Martin with pick No.3 in the AFL National Draft in November that year, but in the club’s best and fairest award he played second fiddle to his captain Kallen Geary.

Geary won his second Pioneers’ best and fairest in a row in 2009 with 41 votes, with Martin two back on 39.

DETERMINED: Dustin Martin playing for the Bendigo Pioneers in 2009 against Oakleigh.

DETERMINED: Dustin Martin playing for the Bendigo Pioneers in 2009 against Oakleigh.

“I think I might have robbed him that year,” Geary chuckled on Tuesday.

“From what I can remember of that year, there was a lot of confidence from early on that he was going to get picked up, but not that he would go in the top three.

“Then as the season went on he started to assert himself and he had one of the biggest national carnivals that anyone had had for a while playing for Vic Country.

“From that point on he put his name up in lights.”

Geary was a Vic Country team-mate in 2009 of Martin, who following an Under-18 National Championships in which he averaged 21.4 touches per game was named in the centre in the All-Australian team.

“I remember there was one Vic Country game against Vic Metro and he was running down the wing and kicked one on his right foot that went about 55m. Then about 10 minutes later down the other side of the ground he kicked one on his left about 65m,” Geary said.

“He had the ‘don’t argue’ back then, but we as players weren’t sure whether he’d get away with it at AFL level with the bigger bodies.

“But he has taken it on and he has made it his own.

“I’m absolutely rapt he’s achieved what he has because he’s a fantastic fella.”