Sport AFL AFL Finals 2017: History beckons Martin after Brownlow win

AFL Finals 2017: History beckons Martin after Brownlow win

Dustin Martin
Richmond superstar Dustin Martin won the 2017 Brownlow Medal with a record number of votes. Photo: Getty
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Richmond superstar Dustin Martin stands on the cusp of an unprecedented Brownlow Medal-Norm Smith Medal double.

No player in the history of the game has won the Brownlow and the award for best player afield in the grand final in the same season.

Martin claimed the game’s top individual honour with a record 36 votes on Monday night.

That tally included 11 best-on-ground performances, which set another record.

The 26-year-old has the chance to cement his place in history when he becomes the first Richmond player to win the Brownlow Medal and then play in the grand final.

He is the bookmakers’ favourite to win the Norm Smith Medal against Adelaide on Saturday.

“It feels a little bit surreal,” Martin told reporters on Tuesday morning, less than 12 hours after having the Brownlow draped around his neck.

“It’s something that I’m proud of, but I’m just concentrating on this week now.

“I think the improvement of all my teammates, the whole team, has certainly helped me get better.

“I put it down to the rest of the guys all chipping in and making it easier.

“I was obviously pretty nervous leading into (the Brownlow ceremony), so now I’m just concentrating on the footy, which is good.”

Martin received a round of applause from his proud teammates when he arrived for training at Punt Road Oval on Tuesday morning.

His Brownlow Medal was left at home on the bedside table but he plans to give it to his mum for safekeeping.

Martin ‘s father Shane, who lives in New Zealand after he was deported by the Australian government, was the first person Martin called after he was presented with the medal by last year’s winner Patrick Dangerfield.

The Geelong star was ineligible this season but polled the second-most votes with 33.

The Tigers won 10 of the 11 games where Martin received maximum votes from the umpires, with AFL legend Leigh Matthews hailing his season as probably the greatest ever by a player.

Martin said he had received dozens of congratulatory messages, as well as a couple of missed calls from good friend and 2011 Brownlow Medal winner Dane Swan at 5am.

Martin maintained an elite level of performance as negotiations on a new contract dragged on.

After constant speculation he would take a big-money offer from North Melbourne, he signed a seven-year deal worth an estimated $1.2 million per season with Richmond on the eve of the finals series.

“He’s shown incredible mental toughness,” Martin’s manager Ralph Carr said.

“We had belief in him all the way through and for him to do what he’s done, in particular this year … that’s the real joy you get out of managing him.

“Personally, I think he’s going to play even better footy now.

“He’s such a competitive athlete, he’s competitive about his own performance and wanting to get better; I think we’re going to see a lot of great football from Dusty.”