Dust settles on a brilliant year

Dustin Martin and two thirds of his history-making trifecta. Photo: AFL Media

Dustin Martin and two thirds of his history-making trifecta. Photo: AFL Media

For Castlemaine's very own Dustin Martin, it's been a fairly busy week.

Last Monday night, the reclusive Richmond superstar was awarded the Brownlow Medal, the AFL's greatest individual honour, with a record 36 votes. Among them were 11 best-on-grounds, an unprecedented number in the Brownlow's storied history.

Then on Saturday, 'Dusty' and his teammates routed Adelaide on the way to Richmond's first premiership in a generation, with the former Campbells Creek junior at his explosive, mercurial best.

Never has an AFL/VFL footballer won the Brownlow Medal, the premiership and the Norm Smith Medal, awarded to the best player on the ground on Grand Final Day, in the same year. With two goals, 29 possessions and a plethora of his trademark 'don't argues', Martin led the yellow and black to a historic premiership.

He's something of a cult figure down at Richmond - on Saturday night, barbers threw open their doors and offered free 'Dusty cuts' - Martin's signature mohawk - while other delirious Richmondites went straight for the neck tattoos and etched his number 4 on their duffel coats. Immortalised in murals and plastered across every newspaper in town, he's come a long way from an exceptionally powerful young man playing football against men double his age for the Castlemaine Magpies.

After a junior career at Campbells Creek, Martin dominated for the Magpies even as a teenager, with his famous fend-off a staple of his short yet jaw-dropping senior career. Known simply as 'Dust', the 16-year-old was the focal point of Castlemaine's side, able to win contest after contest against grown men and be damaging on the scoreboard, enough to lead Castlemaine's goalkicking for the 2008 season. To cap off a brilliant year, he also managed to finish second in the club's Best and Fairest award as well.

Following in the footsteps of Castlemaine legend Jack 'Skinny' Titus, Martin joined the Richmond Tigers in 2009, where Titus kicked 970 goals from 294 games. With number 36 on his jersey, Martin took the league by storm, although was ineligible for the Rising Star award after suspension.

The rebuilding Tigers of 2010 were in awe of the 19-year-old from the country who could push off hardened AFL veterans with one hand and then boot the ball 60 metres. For his efforts, he was awarded the number 4, once worn by Tiger Premiership hero Royce Hart, a number that Martin, through his unfathomably brilliant 2017, is making his own. "No player," AFL Hall of Fame member and ex-Hawthorn superstar Leigh 'Lethal' Matthews stated, "has ever had as good a year, I suspect, as Dustin Martin".