Richmond superstar Dustin Martin is on the verge of being the third player to complete a clean sweep of major individual awards after tonight being crowned the AFL Players’ Association’s Most Valuable Player.
Martin, 26, claimed the Leigh Matthews Trophy with 1333 votes from his peers, ahead of Geelong’s Patrick Dangerfield (776) and Greater Western Sydney’s Josh Kelly (416).
Rising Star winner, Essendon’s Andrew McGrath, won the best first-year player ahead of WA duo Sam Powell-Pepper (Port Adelaide) and Sam Petrevski-Seton (Carlton).
Adelaide’s Taylor Walker was named best captain and Rory Sloane most courageous player.
Martin won the AFL Coaches’ Association champion player-of-the-year award and is favourite to claim his first Brownlow Medal after leading Richmond into a preliminary final.
Geelong duo Dangerfield (last season) and Gary Ablett (2009) are the only other players to win all three major individual awards in the same season.
Ablett also starred in a Cats premiership that year.
Martin overcame a series of off-field distractions this year to deliver one of the finest individual seasons in recent history.
He put months of speculation about his future to bed last month when he signed a seven-year contract with Richmond worth more than $8 million, forgoing an even bigger offer from North Melbourne to leave.
He was best afield in the Tigers’ qualifying final thumping of Geelong despite being rocked by the news of a new law being passed in the days leading up to the game that will prevent his father, Shane Martin, from returning to Australia after being deported over his links to an outlaw motorcycle gang.
Richmond coach Damien Hardwick has been at the helm since gun on-baller Martin was drafted in 2009 and marvelled at his personal growth in that time.
“His maturity level now has increased ten-fold,” Hardwick said.
“He looks after himself as good as I’ve seen from an elite athlete. He boxes twice a week, he does yoga, he does all these things that I never thought I’d see him do. But he knows that this is what he has to do to stay at the top of his game.
“That’s why we’re really happy as a footy club to have him for seven (more) years.”