Sport analysts and commentators have long revered the players of old.
When we discuss the greats, lots of criticism falls on the current generation, with the standard of greatness elevated the more we part from legends we remember.
Considered a symptom of the glory days and time passed, legends are often cleared of their moments and remembered for their undeniable triumphs.
In today’s all-access age, the modern player is denied the same mystique, but that’s not to say that these legends are anything other than legends.
Take this into consideration when regarding the talent and potential of modern greats like Dustin Martin.
Not only is he the best player in the AFL’s most damaging side, but Martin has achieved honours beyond most in an unbelievable three-year period.
Martin is not the greatest ever, although he might be in the discussion about Richmond’s best.
Players like Royce Hart, Kevin Bartlett and Matthew Richardson are all exalted in Richmond history.
Retiring in 1977, Hart received outstanding honours in his ten-year career with four premierships, two Jack Dyer Medals and two Michael Roach Medals, as well recognition in the AFL Team of the Century and Australian Football Hall of Fame.
However, Kevin Bartlett stands at the top. Besides recording 403 games for Richmond between 1965 and 1983, Bartlett achieved five premierships, one Norm Smith Medal, five best and fairest awards (three in Premiership years), four Richmond leading goal-kicker prizes and Australian Football Hall of Fame Legend status.
But something needs to be said about Martin’s success achieved in the VFL/AFL’s most expansive era.
In 2017, Martin’s made history more times than thought possible. He won the Brownlow Medal with a record 36 votes and became the first player to do so with a premiership and a Norm Smith Medal in the following week.
Martin had his name on everything that year, but at the start of 2018, we observed a different Dustin Martin. Despite excelling, Martin’s form dipped with his passion for the game fading fast.
Martin achieved every award achievable by a player in his position and seemingly had nothing left to strive for. The media pumped him up for the class exuded in 2017, at times over-hyping a man no longer before us.
The Tigers lost to Collingwood in the preliminary final that year despite leading the league and remaining undefeated at the MCG all season until that match.
Although like Richmond, Martin returned in 2019 as many premiership stars fell throughout the season. As all great leaders do, Martin lifted, guiding Richmond out of a struggle.
He slowly returned to his 2017 form before transcending it in the matches leading into finals. Of course, Richmond’s near perfect system meant Martin carried less weight than most other teams would allow. But Martin had a purpose again and seized it fast.
He assisted the Tigers to their second premiership in three years, and in turn secured his second Norm Smith Medal. He joined stars Gary Ayres, Andrew McLeod and Luke Hodge as one of four players to win it twice, although Martin remains the only player to do it with Brownlow honours in the same year.
The Richmond star could retire tomorrow as one of the best players to ever grace the club.
But with a few more strong years, Martin may just take out the top spot in Richmond’s history and be remembered as their greatest ever.