Homegrown Brownlow hero

Dustin Martin of the Tigers holds the 2017 Brownlow Medal during the 2017 Brownlow Medal Count at the Crown Palladium on Monday. Photo: Adam Trafford/AFL Media

Dustin Martin of the Tigers holds the 2017 Brownlow Medal during the 2017 Brownlow Medal Count at the Crown Palladium on Monday. Photo: Adam Trafford/AFL Media

Castlemaine crowned its very own Brownlow medallist on Monday night when Richmond's Dustin Martin took the AFL's highest honour with a record 36 votes.

Martin, who went into the count as a raging hot favourite, polled an incredible 11 best on ground votes, also an AFL record.

Large crowds gathered at the Camp Reserve and the Five Flags hotel to cheer Martin to victory, which he achieved by just three votes from the ineligible Patrick Dangerfield of Geelong and 11 votes from the official second place getter, Hawthorn's Tom Mitchell.

Martin won plenty of fans with his softly spoken manner on Brownlow night, something that came as no surprise to the many locals who fondly recall his gentle nature off the field.

The Brownlow adds another highlight to what is already a spectacular career for the 26-year-old Martin, a career that began as a junior with the Campbells Creek Football Club before joining Castlemaine in 2008 as a 16-year-old.

Martin was an instant star with the Magpies, and Castlemaine supporters still talk fondly of how the now famous 'don't argue' was evident then, despite being a boy playing senior football against men.

Magpie legend Ron Cawthan was club president in 2008 and speaks fondly of the "quiet yet exceptionally talented kid".

"You could see he was something special from the first time he stepped on the training track," he said this week.

"We had quite a few talented players and a few that went on to AFL in my time and he was one kid that stood out as being on another level."

Mr Cawthan also remembered a time when his wife Judy and daughter Kristie saw Martin in a busy city shopping centre, with the Richmond star making the effort to come over and say hello, a respect for his home town that many have encountered when seeking donations and memorabilia for local sporting fundraising efforts, something Martin always generously provides.

The spoils of the 2008 season included the Bendigo Football Netball League's rising star award, the Magpies goal kicking award and runner-up in the senior best and fairest, a prophetic beginning to a decorated senior career.

On one often spoken about game, Martin kicked five goals against then league powerhouse Golden Square, a remarkable effort for anyone, let alone a 16-year-old.

Despite the prolific ability, legend has it Castlemaine's then senior coach, Jamie Elliott, himself a former AFL player, had to badger the Bendigo Pioneers officials to pick the talented midfielder, finally succeeding for the final four games of 2008 and then into the 2009 season.

After a strong start to the season with the Pioneers where he would finish runner-up in the Best and Fairest, Martin had a huge National Carnival, winning All-Australian selection as a centre and rocketing into high contention for the AFL draft, eventually being taken by Richmond with pick three.

177 games later Martin has become the hottest property in the AFL, with this season producing a Brownlow, MVP award and multiple media awards already, with the biggest prize perhaps yet to come when 'Dusty' leads the Tigers on the quest for the premiership in Saturday's grand final.

Right now, Martin probably sits second to only his Richmond clubmate, Jack 'Skinny' Titus on the Magpies pecking order. Titus, a duel premiership player and member of the Richmond and AFL Hall of Fame was a remarkable player who kicked 970 goals in 294 games with the Tigers, during the 1930s and 40s, a pretty handy quinella for a small country town.

Dustin Martin's grandmother Lois and other supporters celebrate Dusty's Brownlow win in the Castlemaine clubrooms on Monday night. Photo contributed Bendigo Advertiser

Dustin Martin's grandmother Lois and other supporters celebrate Dusty's Brownlow win in the Castlemaine clubrooms on Monday night. Photo contributed Bendigo Advertiser

Dustin in his playing days with Castlemaine. Photo contributed Bendigo Advertiser

Dustin in his playing days with Castlemaine. Photo contributed Bendigo Advertiser

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