Dustin Martin breaks votes record in claiming Brownlow Medal
RICHMOND superstar Dustin Martin has won the 2017 Brownlow Medal after guiding the Tigers to their first AFL grand final in 35 years.
The midfielder earned a record 36 votes, narrowly outpolling ineligible Geelong star Patrick Dangerfield (33) and Hawthorn's Tom Mitchell (25).
Last year's winner Dangerfield was ruled out of contention after being suspended for a dangerous tackle, but the prospect of Martin being outpolled was alive until round 23 when the gun Tiger polled three votes.
The shortest-priced favourite in Brownlow history, Martin became the sixth Tiger to win the AFL's most prestigious individual award.
It adds to a remarkable year for the Tigers, who will break a 35-year grand final drought when they face Adelaide in Saturday's decider.
No player in history has won both the Brownlow and Norm Smith Medals in the same year but Martin would have to be a huge chance to do just that.
TAB Sportsbet has Martin favourite at $4.75 to be named best-afield in the grand final, ahead of Adelaide's Matt Crouch and Rory Sloane (both $8).
The notoriously media-shy Martin kept his acceptance speech short and sweet but paid tribute his family, including his father Shane who was last year deported to New Zealand over alleged bikie gang links.
"He means the world to me," Martin said.
"I'm sure everyone's old man is the same. He obviously has supported me and we have a special relationship.
"It's been really surreal the last couple of weeks.
"I wouldn't have thought in a million years I would be up here getting a Brownlow and playing in an AFL grand final so I'm soaking it up and enjoying it."
Martin had earlier been recognised by the AFL Players Association and AFL Coaches Association as the competition's most valuable player.
The question of whether he would exercise his rights as a free agent and find a new home, amid reports of enormous offers from rival clubs, was the AFL's hottest topic for much of the season.
But Martin refused to let the speculation affect his play, running rampant with his trademark fend-offs and ball-gathering talent for a career-best year. In a huge boost for the Tigers, the 26-year-old last month signed a new seven-year deal worth about $1.2 million a season.
Martin polled the maximum three votes in 11 games, surpassing the nine-game record of previous winners Dangerfield, Nat Fyfe (2015) and Greg Williams (1994).
Dangerfield fell just short of his then-record 35-vote haul last season, becoming the first player to surpass 30 Brownlow votes in consecutive years.
"He is a champion, Paddy," Martin said.
"I have great respect for him but it would have been a bit awkward if he beat me, I think."
FINAL BROWNLOW MEDAL LEADERBOARD
1. Dustin Martin (Richmond) - 36
2. Patrick Dangerfield (Geelong)* - 33
3. Tom Mitchell (Hawthorn) - 25
4. Josh Kennedy (Sydney) - 23
5. Lance Franklin (Sydney) - 22
6. Josh Kelly (GWS Giants) - 21
7. Rory Sloane (Adelaide) - 20
8. Marcus Bontempelli (Western Bulldogs) - 19
9. Ollie Wines (Port Adelaide) - 18
10. Dayne Beams (Brisbane) - 17