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Dusty completes perfect treble with Norm Smith

Dusty's dominant day on the big stage A terrific performance topped off by the Norm Smith medal

DUSTIN Martin is like no other player we have seen, and on Saturday he achieved a feat no other player has in the history of the game. 

The champion midfielder won the Norm Smith Medal and a premiership medallion just five days after he took home the Brownlow Medal.

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His season has been described by Hawthorn legend Leigh Matthews as the greatest ever put together, and his coach Damien Hardwick agreed. Saturday's masterful performance was the final chapter. 

The tattooed superstar is the best player in the game and an approving roar went up around the MCG when he was announced by 2000 winner James Hird as the Tigers' second Norm Smith medallist.

 

He was the calm in the chaos of Saturday's brutal Grand Final, creating order whenever he got his hands on the football, finishing with a team-high 29 possessions (21 contested) and two goals.

The moment: When Dusty fired up the Tiger train

Hardwick had given him a license to roam, and the 26-year-old didn't let his coach down. He never does. He moved wherever he was needed as the Tigers surged to their first premiership in 37 years.

His ability to get his hands on the ball in tight and feed it out to a teammate's advantage was what separated him. It was the foundation for Richmond's repeated surges forward that eventually overwhelmed Adelaide.

The powerful midfielder was adjudged best on ground by four of the five judges and received 13 votes to win from teammate Bachar Houli (10). Alex Rance, Shane Edwards and Dion Prestia each received two votes, and 19-year-old Tiger Jack Graham received one.

"The two hours when you play footy is freedom. You don't have to worry about anything else. You just go out there and play footy and that's what I love doing," Martin said. 

"I just go out there and play. It's what I've done since I was a young bloke, and that's what has been so great about this year."

 

Martin joins AFL Legend Kevin Bartlett (1980) and Maurice Rioli (1982) as one of only three Richmond Norm Smith medallists.

He wasn't planning on having the individual accolades he has collected this year 'inked', but there was a space reserved on his left thigh for a Tiger to commemorate Saturday's historic victory. 

It was a feeling he said couldn't be topped. "A million" times better than winning the Brownlow.

"It was a bit surreal and a bit of a blur, but now it feels real and it feels bloody awesome," he said.  

"I'm so lucky to have so many people who have supported me.

"This great man next to me (Hardwick), a lot of people at the club, a lot of people outside the club, family and friends. I'm very grateful."

Richmond forward Josh Caddy described Martin as the "most selfless top-echelon player" he had ever seen.

Caddy has played alongside champion trio Patrick Dangerfield, Gary Ablett and Joel Selwood, but Martin sat above them after Saturday's performance.

"Today he goes down as one of the best players of all time. Nobody has ever done the premiership, Brownlow and Norm Smith in one year," Caddy said.

"It's probably the greatest individual year of any player in history, but it wouldn't even phase him."  

Dustin Martin celebrates with the premiership cup. Picture: AFL Photos

Richmond captain Trent Cotchin has been a pivotal figure in Martin's rise. The yin to Martin's yang, with each helping the other grow as players and people this year.  

Martin taught Cotchin the virtue of being yourself, while the captain kept the No.3 draft pick focused when distractions entered his life.  

"He's a special boy. He's a part of our family and I'm so proud of him," Cotchin said.

"He's genuine, he cares, and he does everything for the right reasons, which is a special trait to have.

"He's got all the accolades and he's worked hard for it."

Every Tiger rated from the Grand Final

Hardwick has been the other pivotal figure in Martin's football life, and the pair sought each other for an emotional embrace moments after the final siren.

A premiership coach 12 months after his job was under threat, Hardwick was able to harness Martin in a devastating way this season to turn his and the club's fortunes around.

He was isolating the 187cm midfielder in the forward 50 from early in the season, and again on Saturday, resulting in a crucial goal late in the second quarter when Martin out-bodied Luke Brown. 

"He's just so hard to stop. Through the middle, he's just so powerful and then he goes up forward and takes control," the coach said.  

"What he's really added to his game this year is an ability to understand where he's required at certain times. Whether we need a goal, whether we need him back in the midfield, he really dictates that.

"I'm just so pleased with his growth as a footballer this year."

Hardwick has been blessed to play with and coach some special players, he said, but he had never seen a year like Martin's.      

"I think this season ranks as the most special I've seen from a player. There's no doubt. He's been incredible."

2017 Norm Smith Medal voting

13 D.Martin 
10 B.Houli 
2 A.Rance 
2 S.Edwards 
2 D.Prestia 
1 J.Graham 

How the judges voted
Chris Judd: Martin, Houli, Graham
Terry Wallace: Houli, Edwards, Martin
Daisy Pearce: Martin, Houli, Prestia
Mark Maclure: Martin, Rance, Houli
Jake Niall: Martin, Houli, Prestia

Want more Grand Final coverage?

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