Was Dustin Martin’s 2017 The Best AFL Season Ever?

GOOD luck in 2018 Dusty. There isn’t much left for the bullocking midfielder/forward to tick off on his career checklist. Sure, defending his 2017 honours will be a huge challenge, but after the season he just had Dustin Martin has virtually peaked. An AFLPA MVP award, his 2nd straight B&F, a Finals MVP, his maiden Brownlow, another All-Australian nod, a memorable Premiership capped off with a Norm Smith medal. Oh and don’t forget the monster contract extension he signed with Richmond, putting to bed any rumours of his exit on the eve of the finals. On paper the accolades are endless and it’s hard to make a case against Martin’s 2017 as the best individual AFL season ever.

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HEADING into the Grand Final Dusty had a chance to pull off a feat that had never been completed before. No Brownlow medalist has claimed a premiership and Norm Smith medal as well in the same year….that is until Martin’s now-famous treble.

SIX champions of the past Greg Williams, James Hird, Simon Black, Nathan Buckley, Chris Judd and Jimmy Bartel all have a Brownlow and Norm Smith medal in their trophy cabinet with all but Buckley also playing in a premiership side throughout their careers. Only Bartell, Buckley and Black had the chance to repeat what Dustin Martin did last week playing in a Grand Final the same year that they won the league’s highest individual honour.

MARTIN’S record-breaking Brownlow win saw him poll more votes (36) than anyone before him in any previous season, including a now AFL record 11 best on ground performances. He entered the night as the shortest favourite in history and loomed as the most important piece in Richmond’s championship puzzle. On Saturday he made it clear that he wasn’t going to disappear on the games biggest stage, helping steer the Tigers to premiership glory. Some disagreed with Dusty being voted best on ground with Bachar Houli finishing just a few votes behind him. But Martin’s 29 touches (a team high) were instrumental in the Tigers win and as a result, he was awarded the Norm Smith medal.

Was Dustin Martin's 2017 The Best AFL Season Ever? 1Image from theland.com.au

OF the past Norm Smith medal winners only Greg Williams (1994), Andrew McLeod (2001) and Chris Judd (2006) also have an MVP award (Leigh Matthews Trophy) on their resume. There are plenty of players who have some combination of a premiership, Norm Smith, MVP and Brownlow medal, but Dusty can now say he is the fourth member of a club who has won all four. While Judd, McLeod and Williams all had a dominant two or three year period in which they claimed all four of these honours, Martin took only 12 months to stack his trophy cabinet.

AS is the way for most Brownlow winners, Dustin Martin also claimed the club best and fairest. Looking at the entire list of players who have won a best and fairest in a premiership season, only Tony Shaw (1990), Maurice Rioli (1982), Lenny Hayes (2010), Andrew McLeod (1997) and Gary Ayres (1986) have also claimed a Norm Smith medal in the same season. Rioli won the BOG award in a losing final and Hayes will remain the answer to a trivia question until the end of time, winning the medal in the 2010 drawn Grand Final. Martin’s B&F win (over the likes of Alex Rance and premiership skipper Trent Cotchin) all but confirmed that 2017 was the best season of all-time by a single player, with thousands of fans, hundreds of journalists and even Leigh Matthews agreeing with the claim.

THROUGHOUT all the hysteria and excitement of the past few months, Dustin Martin has cemented himself as the best player in the game and perhaps the most humble, softly spoken champ we have seen as well. Sure guys like Patrick Dangerfield, Nat Fyfe, Josh Kelly and Tom Mitchell may have something to say about being the leagues biggest star, but it’s hard to argue with Dusty in more way than one. I can’t wait to see what the polarizing Richmond champion can do in 2018 and I have a feeling he has a few more awards coming his way before his time is done.

Peace ✌

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