DUSTIN Martin is the toast of the AFL after winning the game’s most coveted individual award – the Brownlow Medal.
There’s no such thing as a certainty in sport, but such has been his brilliant season for Richmond, combined with the ineligibility of Geelong’s Patrick Dangerfield, Martin was as red-hot a favourite as there has been for the Brownlow and duly saluted on Monday night with a record 36 votes.
In doing so Martin has become the first player drafted from the Bendigo Pioneers in their 25-year history to win the Brownlow.
Richmond selected Martin with pick No.3 from the Pioneers in 2009. It’s a significant fillip for the Pioneers to be now able to boast a Brownlow medallist.
And then there’s Campbells Creek and Castlemaine – two clubs that both played significant roles in Martin’s journey from prodigious young talent to 2017 Brownlow medallist and Richmond cult hero.
Campbells Creek is where Martin first played football as a junior in the under-10s.
Castlemaine is where Martin first played senior football in the Bendigo league in 2008 as a 16-year-old.
Martin won the Bendigo Football League Rising Star Award in 2008 (pictured) and a year later as a quietly-spoken 18-year-old ahead of the 2009 draft told the Bendigo Advertiser:“Footy is my life; I just love it and it’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. I’ve got a long way to go and just can’t wait to, hopefully, get an opportunity and work as hard as I can.’’
Martin has done just that, for no matter how much talent you have, you can’t reach the level that he has in becoming one of those rare sport stars who is identified with just one name – in his case “Dusty” – without putting in the hard work.
And that hard work may pay another dividend on Saturday in the form of a premiership medal as Martin’s Tigers meet Adelaide in the grand final. What a week.
Luke West – sports reporter