Fresh from a best on ground performance in the Qualifying Final victory against Geelong, Dustin Martin has taken out the AFL Players Association Most Valuable Player. The award comes after a stand out year for Martin, who remains the favourite to win the Brownlow Medal.
The MVP is voted on by AFL players and the winner is awarded the Leigh Matthews trophy. Martin polled the most votes (1333) ahead of last years winner Patrick Dangerfield (776) and Josh Kelly (416). The honour comes just a week after being awarded the AFL Coaches’ Association best player and if Martin takes out the Brownlow in under two weeks, he will secure an extraordinary treble that would showcase the dominance of his season.
The award was accepted by Martin in the humble and reserved nature that he has become known for over the past years. His acknowledged all those who had helped him with his career, including his father Shane Martin, who was recently deported from Australia because of his criminal history and links to biker gangs. Martin’s father has been unable to return to Australia since being deported to New Zealand in March and will be unable to attend any finals games or the Brownlow Medal ceremony.
Martin has become a fan favourite at Richmond since being taken at pick 3 in the 2009 National Draft. Martin re-signed with the club on the eve of the finals, knocking back offers from North Melbourne to stay at Tigerland. He signed a seven-year deal reported to be worth up to $1.3 million, keeping him at the club until the end of the 2024 AFL season. Despite ongoing contract talk and speculation within the media, Martin delivered a career best season, playing a pivotal role in helping his side finish in the top four and reach their first Qualifying Final since 2001. After defeating Geelong on Friday night, the Tigers will now wait for their next opponent, which will be the winner of either Greater Western Sydney or West Coast Eagles. If the Tigers win their Preliminary Final matchup against either of the possible opponents, they will move onto their first Grand Final since 1982 and attempt to win their first premiership in 37 years.
Whilst having a great season, rewarded by some of the highest individual accolades, the impact Martin has on his team’s performance is second to none and he will have to continue his current form in order for the Tigers to go on and achieve the ultimate success.