Dustin Martin salutes the vast, adoring MCG crowd after his 300th game. Image by Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS
  • Australian rules football

Martin’s 300 celebrated as Hawks crash party with win

Roger Vaughan June 15, 2024

Dusty’s party was crashed and not one of the 92,311 attendees gave a damn.

In extraordinary scenes befitting one of the AFL’s iconic careers, Richmond star Dustin Martin was lauded at the MCG on Saturday as he played his 300th game.

While Hawthorn mauled Martin and his Richmond teammates by 48 points, the 14.13 (97) to 6.13 (49) result took a back seat.

Martin lit up the MCG when he kicked the first goal of the game, Hawks coach Sam Mitchell observing that the whole crowd rose to its feet.

Immediately after the final siren, the fans broke into a chant of “Dusty … Dusty” as Martin strode to the centre of the MCG like the Punt Rd emperor that he is, acknowledging them in an unforgettable moment.

The media-shy Brownlow medallist, three-time Richmond premiership player and three-time Norm Smith medallist then gave a rare interview, speaking to former Tigers teammate Jack Riewoldt for Fox Footy immediately after the final siren.

Teammates Toby Nankervis and Tom Lynch chaired Martin to the boundary line, where he hugged his mum Kath and brothers Tyson and Bronson.

 Martin was chaired from the field, applauded by both teams. Image by Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS 

“It’s amazing – a disappointing result for the club. But I love the Tiger army so much, I love the club so much, it means the absolute world to me, all the love I’ve received this week,” Martin said to Riewoldt.

“I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. I appreciate it.”

Martin added he felt “a little bit numb” after the massive buildup to the game and the occasion itself.

Asked about his first-term goal – a Dusty special on the run from 50m – Martin clearly relished the moment.

“It was the best – old-school, I loved it,” he said.

For all Martin’s shyness and distaste for the media, he spoke eloquently.

“I’ve been overwhelmed this week with all the support – I really can’t believe it,” he said.

Martin also quashed murmurs over the last few days that this might be his retirement game.

“Yeah mate, freshen up after the bye, we’ll see how we go,” Martin said of the Tigers’ post-bye match against Carlton. 

 Fans turned out to see Martin in action in his milestone game and acknowledge his career. Image by Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS 

Tigers coach Adem Yze said there were “mixed emotions”, given the result.

“We are obviously so proud that even sitting where we are on the ladder, our Tiger army get out and support, no matter what,” he said.

“To have 92,000 at the game, to celebrate one of our greatest, is something we’re really proud of and we’re just shattered we couldn’t put on a performance that we really wanted,” Yze said.

He added it would be “disrespectful” not to celebrate Martin on Saturday night, irrespective of the loss.

“He’s never made it about himself, so just to see him walking around the ground, just acknowledging our fans, was a really nice moment,” Yze said.

“He’s unique. It’s pretty tough to find someone who has the credentials of Dusty.”

 Martin admitted the hype leading into his 300th game had left him feeling “a little bit numb”. Image by Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS 

Mitchell said before Saturday that the Hawks would be happy to play the villain role, but he admitted it was a strange game to prepare for, given the occasion.

“We had no choice but to play our role in it … we had to embrace it and make sure we played in a manner that we would be happy with,” he said.

Mitchell added there was “something beautiful” about Martin’s game-opening goal and spoke about it with his players afterwards.

“I said ‘did you actually enjoy it?’ and one of the forwards said yeah, of course he did,” Mitchell said.

“Everyone just shook their heads … of course he did (kick the goal).

“I was rapt with how we handled that moment, because it could easily have pulled it apart, but it didn’t.”

Martin finished with 13 disposals as well as his goal.