AFL trades 2020: Dustin Martin to GWS, 2013 season, deal, story, contract, how Dusty nearly joined Giants, who stopped it?

Dustin Martin’s manager Ralph Carr and former GWS list manager Stephen Silvagni have recalled how they thought the three-time Norm Smith medallist had become a Giants player – before someone intervened.

It was just days after the end of Richmond’s 2013 campaign, when they lost an elimination final to a Carlton side that technically finished ninth, that Martin was filmed touring the GWS facilities.

The Tigers issued a statement confirming a then 22-year-old Martin was to “pursue other opportunities” after talks over a long-term deal at $600,000 a year fell through.

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Grand Final

That’s when GWS, following a wooden spoon in their second season as an AFL club, made its move.

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Cotchin lauds Dusty road to AFL greatness

Richmond captain Trent Cotchin says Dustin Martin had to learn to “love himself” on his path to becoming an AFL superstar.

Martin was at the forefront as the Tigers claimed a third premiership in four years on Saturday night, cementing his own legacy with another best afield display to claim an unprecedented third Norm Smith Medal.

The 29-year-old kicked four goals from 21 disposals in the 31-point win over Geelong at the Gabba.

“Everybody who speaks about him, particularly in the AFL world, is just in awe of his unique ability to will himself and win games off the back of his own boot,” Cotchin told The Sunday Footy Show.

“But I think the thing that I love most about him is the journey that he’s been on about really connecting with himself and finding that love for himself.

“I encourage it for everyone to be the case.

“The footy environment can be tough at different stages and the expectation that’s put on players, particularly like himself, it can be a lot to deal with.

“But the way that he just shows up and continually just is true to himself is really impressive to watch from afar, but also from right by his side.”

Notoriously private, Martin made a rare media appearance alongside coach Damien Hardwick in Richmond’s post-match press conference after the grand final.

He said the “humble and hungry” Tigers will enjoy their latest success and have a shot at yet another premiership next season, but believes the journey is what is most important.

“That’s something that we speak about as an organisation – it’s the journey that brings you the happiness,” Martin said.

“This stuff at the end is cool, but the memories that we’ve got this year and over the last however long are going to be something that we look back on and it’s just going to be amazing.”

As Martin scorched the Gabba turf on Saturday night, his exiled father Shane Martin watched on television from New Zealand.

“We spoke to him after the game but as usual it’s all noisy, you can’t hear stuff, but you could hear how excited he was,” Shane Martin told the NZ Herald.

“It’s pretty hard to see it on TV when I should be there, really, but that’s another story.

“It’s still a proud moment but I would have loved to be there, but yeah, you know, it is what it is, don’t want to take the moment away from it.”

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Dusty deal kicked off golden era for the Tigers

”It’s by no means a conservative plan, it’s a very ambitious plan about how we can get Richmond back to being not only a top-four club but hopefully the pre-eminent club in the AFL.”

Richmond had already ended the era of failure before Saturday night in Queensland.

They ended the era of failure when they not only removed the financial debt but also built wealth for the club. They ended that era when they added members like tattoos – they’re everywhere.

They ended that era when they stopped finishing ninth and started making finals.

They ended that era and ceased to be the butt of a joke when they resisted the push by the Focus on Football group that looks more ridiculous with every passing flag, but which in a not-so-distant era would have gained traction as a smart idea. (That the group is now claiming credit for inspiring the three flags is just breathtaking).

The Tigers emphatically ended that era with the first flag. That flag restored their credibility.

Richmond players pose with the 2020 Premiership trophy.Credit:Getty Images

The second flag two years later moved them from a heart-rending riches-to-rags-to-riches story to a sustainable and, dare it be said, mature club. Good clubs win one flag, very good clubs win two in short order.

A third flag has recrafted them again. Only the best clubs win flags in clusters. They certainly present a persuasive argument that they are now the pre-eminent team.

The rarity of Richmond’s achievement is that they had a plan that worked. Football is littered with five-year plans, Powerpoint presentations and lofty, unrealistic goals. Even the Focus on Footy troupe had a brochure. Ok it might have been on craft paper with crayon, but it was still a brochure.

The surprise is Richmond’s plan worked. They built their list. They held it together.

The most pivotal moment in the history of the club was not the night Gary March and Brendon Gale spoke to those inner sanctum members, it was the moment when they a price on what they would spend on Dustin Martin’s new contract and did not budge.

Dustin Martin and his Tiger teammates at The Gabba on Saturday night.

Dustin Martin and his Tiger teammates at The Gabba on Saturday night.Credit:Getty Images

It was the night when Martin sat with GWS officials and they looked at him and asked ‘why are you leaving?’ And Martin thought “Yeah, why am I leaving?” That chat crystalised in his mind where he’d really rather be.

That brave moment when the club refused to overspend and still kept the player who has now become probably the best Richmond player ever, is one of the most important moments in their history.


Three Norm Smith Medals now and counting. Does Richmond win all three flags if Martin chose at that point to leave? Do they even make all three grand finals if Martin, who also won that Brownlow, is not there? Probably not, but maybe. Richmond has argued as a club that no one person deserves all the credit, but surely, if there’s one who does deserve it, Martin has to be pretty close.

There is a lesson in that moment for other clubs and players alike. Richmond didn’t overspend (they still spent a lot) and kept their player. That does not always happen – you can dig your heels in and the player still goes – but the teams that have golden eras always have a habit of not overspending on their players and yet they manage to cultivate something about themselves – a culture even if just for a time – that has players staying for less and achieving more.

Dustin Martin could have left for more but stayed for less, and in the end has earned so much more.


Leigh Matthews made a boo boo in voting for the Norm Smith Medallist, giving two votes to Nathan Broad instead of Jayden Short. This is notable because … it’s Leigh Matthews, and it gives heart to all of us who from time to time get muddled.

Nathan Broad played OK, and was a more popular Gabba performer than his namesake Stuart, but Jayden Short was better. Matthews corrected his error.


The consolation thought for Geelong watching the second half was that Jeremy Cameron will be there next year (move/trade deal pending).

He’ll make them better. Whether he would have been the difference on Saturday is for now moot.

Cameron will give the Cats a second genuine mobile target up forward, allowing Patrick Dangerfield to play on the ball.



Night grand finals have had their cameo now we can return to day grand finals when normal transmission resumes.

Night games might make the half time entertainment better but isn’t it about the rest of the entertainment – you know the stuff either side of half time – that is the point?

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‘Strength of a bricklayer, skills of a surgeon’: Dusty joins great debate

Leigh Matthews, the official ‘player of the 20th century’, shies away from intergenerational compare-and-contrast, observing that we’re now well into the 21st century. At the same time, he sees that it is like-for-like, robust goal-kicking midfielders. “Dusty’s the only player I don’t get insulted being compared to,” he said with his customary twinkle.

Tigers defender Francis Bourke attempts to spoil a mark by Magpie Ricky Barham in the 1980 VFL grand final.Credit:Fairfax Archives

If footy people love one thing more than a great player, it’s a debate about great players. One, Gary Ablett, left the stage with subdued dignity in Saturday’s grand final, leaving it for Martin to make what he will of it. The taciturn Martin delivered his own bouquet to Ablett, calling him the greatest of all time. The title is not yet vacant.

So where does Martin sit, and where might he one day rest? Let’s do this in ascending order.

Best Richmond player? “I’ve still got Bartlett No 1, but he’s gone past Royce Hart and Francis Bourke,” said Sheahan, doyen of footy media and inveterate list-maker. “He’s a more polished player than Bartlett, and a better team player.”

But Bartlett endured for 19 years, played 403 games, won five best-and-fairests and five premierships. The Norm Smith did not exist for most of his career, but he won one anyway in 1980. Also, he has a statue.

Martin has three flags, three Norms, a Brownlow medal, but oddly enough only two b&fs. This reflects the sudden and meteoric rise of him and Richmond four years ago, a sublimely virtuous circle. At 29, he also has time.

Best finals player? “You’ve got to be lucky enough to be playing finals to know if you can play well in finals,” said Balme (ask Bob Skilton, three Brownlows, one final). “Dusty’s been lucky to play the last few years. The best players are the ones who play well when it matters most. That’s finals. I think we’ll remember him for that more than most.”

Sheahan observes that of the 11 finals Richmond has played in the past four years, Martin has been best-on-ground in eight, arguably nine of them. Matthews marvels that in six finals in the past two years, Martin has kicked 15.2. “He performs under pressure,” Matthews said. “He must have ice in his veins.”

In all this weighing and measuring, recency bias plays a part. This is most starkly illustrated by the career of Gary Ablett, senior: one b&f, no Brownlows, no premierships, impossible to confine or define by stats, yet in many minds still the clubhouse leader for best player ever. It’s worth keeping in mind.

Best grand final player? Now we’re cooking. McLachlan can’t go past those three medals. “This has been a year like no other topped off by a grand final like no other,” he said. “It seems fitting that we had a game-changing and history-making performance by Dustin Martin, who is now a grand final player like no other.”

Richmond's Kevin Bartlett in 1981.

Richmond’s Kevin Bartlett in 1981.Credit:

All agree Martin’s distinction is that the bigger the occasion, the better he plays, making the grand final his natural theatre. “To be so good on the biggest day on the calendar is an accolade in itself,” said Matthews. “The fact that you can play so well when the pressure is at its greatest.”

Geelong looked to have Richmond in a stranglehold on Saturday night, until Martin’s muscled through a goal just before half-time to prise it loose. “He just knows what to do, when it needs to be done,” said Balme.”It’s timing. You were thinking, we need something to happen now, and he does it. And you’d think, how does he do that?”

Best player ever? Not yet. “It’s about longevity and how good you can be on your best days,” said Matthews. “It’s a combination of the two. He hasn’t got longevity yet. Dusty’s been really good for the last five years. Gary Ablett’s been fantastic for 10 to 15 years.”

But Martin does have runs on the board (well, this is cricket season). He’s been around for 10 years. He’s played 243 games. He rarely misses, a tribute to his thorough preparation. He’s only 29. He’s at a club and in a time that is going to keep him vitally interested for some years yet.

Richmond's Royce Hart marks during the 1967 grand final against Geelong.

Richmond’s Royce Hart marks during the 1967 grand final against Geelong.

Crucially, he plays in a position and in a way that sticks in the memory. “He’s got the strength and power of a bricklayer,” said Matthews, “and the touch and skills of a deft surgeon.”

When not in the midfield, where he is the best of a common type, he’s lurking up forward, ready to kick goals, which even specialist forwards find hard. In this, he is much like Matthews. He kicked 915.


“All four of his [grand final] goals could have been goals of the day,” Matthews said. “Teams have realised that if you can be a goalkicker, play the forward half. Dusty doesn’t go back and neither should he. That’s where the crap stats happen.”

Geelong captain Joel Selwood might have imagined he would have the last word on Saturday. In a way, he did, ruefully.

“We had a plan for Dusty. We had a couple of plans for him,” he said. “He’s a good player. He’s a hell of a player.”

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Dusty or Danger – who is more important to their side?

Superstar duo Dustin Martin and Patrick Dangerfield loom large ahead of Saturday night’s historic Grand Final between Richmond and Geelong at the Gabba.

Martin is one of just four players in VFL/AFL history to have won two Norm Smith Medals (2017 and 2019) and shapes as the game-breaker in the Tigers’ quest for a third flag in four years.

After four losing Preliminary Finals, Dangerfield will get his chance to play on the game’s biggest stage for the first time with the Cats out to win a first premiership since 2011.

But which Brownlow Medallist is more important to their side?

Tim Watson believes Martin is more pivotal to Richmond’s chances because of one key statistic.

“Dusty during this finals series has been involved in 40 per cent of the Tigers’ scores – that is extraordinary,” Watson told SEN Breakfast.

“Based on the statistic that I read out before, I think Dusty is more important to Richmond right now than what Danger would be to Geelong.”

Dangerfield has spent more time forward during the finals, but how will he be deployed in Saturday night’s decider against the reigning premiers?

“He’s great, he’s got great power … but he doesn’t always have the finesse around his field kicking out of the centre, and there was some great vision (Fox Footy’s Ultimate Preview) about how that led to a turnover and Richmond taking the ball from one end of the ground to the other to score,” Watson said.

“I think that was a great underline of why he is probably better suited to playing in the forward line.”

1967 was the last time Richmond and Geelong met in a Grand Final.

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Is Dusty Richmond’s greatest ever player?

Channel 7 veteran commentator Bruce McAvaney believes Dustin Martin is Richmond’s great ever player.

When asked in the lead-up to the side’s clash with Geelong, McAvaney, who has been calling football since 1983, said Martin is the best player he has called in the yellow and black.

“I think it’s (Kevin) Bartlett, and it’s (Royce) Hart and it’s Dustin Martin (as Richmond’s best three),” he said.

“I didn’t see Jack Dyer or Jack Titus so it’s so difficult, but to me Dustin Martin is Richmond’s finest player.

“He’s the best player I have called in a Richmond jumper.

“I do (think he’s the greatest Tiger of all time). Two Norm Smith’s, a Brownlow Medal, 240-odd games, I think he’s the best Tiger of all-time.”

Martin has proven himself as an elite finals player, judged best afield in two Richmond Grand Final victories to go with the 2017 Brownlow Medal.

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A new river valley is taking shape in what was a dusty, polluted stretch of Toronto waterfront. Not even COVID-19 could stop the work

“Where we are now will be the river,” the hard-hatted man says as we stand on dusty earth, overlooking a wide trench carved through century-old industrial landfill on Toronto’s east waterfront.

David Kusturin, Waterfront Toronto’s chief project officer, is echoing words said at a November 2018 groundbreaking when these Port Lands around Cherry Street were still bleak, unbroken parking lots with one yellow excavator for a photo op.

But now, with the shape of a lush river valley and brand new island starting to emerge, thanks to an army of workers with 13 excavators, you can actually start to believe it.

Kusturin and colleague Mira Shenker took the Star on a tour of the floodproofing, economic development and civic beautification project, with a focus on the river that will meander through it — fish and plants below, canoes and kayaks above.

Crews have so far dug 400,000 cubic metres of soil. Eventually 1.4 million cubic metres — enough to fill the Rogers Centre — will be moved to create a natural-looking, almost 1.5-kilometre valley connecting a “renaturalized” Don River mouth with Toronto’s inner harbour to the west.

Nature is getting some help. Valley walls are being reinforced with buried concrete cylinders; drainage stone and a clay liner will help keep the river bed in place; and rock and wood obstacles will keep the water from wandering.

“We are renaturalizing the Don but it is a bit of a reconfiguration,” Kusturin says. “The Don originally emptied into the largest wetlands in the Great Lakes. That was filled in by Port Lands (industrial infill) about 100 years ago.

“We’re creating some new wetlands and valley for the river to run in, which is intended to provide the naturalization as well as to provide for flood protection so we can ensure occupied properties outside of the valley don’t get flooded.”

The river will be two to three metres deep and 30 to 40 metres wide. The valley will be on average six metres deep and 100 metres wide, designed to swell with any floodwaters or, in a massive storm, spill into surrounding parkland.

The site stinks. As we walk, the oil smell hits us, a reminder the Port Lands once hosted big fuel tanks to power a booming city. Relief comes from what Kusturin jokingly calls an “industrial Febreze machine” that eats odour and perfumes the air.

Most of the dug soil is also being cleaned, some with hydrocarbon-munching bacteria. More heavily polluted dirt will be carefully heated with electric probes to “smoulder” away toxic chemicals.

The $1.25-billion project, cost shared by the city, province and Ottawa, is adding environmental resilience to the east waterfront, unlocking potential for new neighbourhoods, including one on what will be called Villiers Island.

So far, the government project — designed by U.S. landscape architects Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, overseen by Waterfront Toronto, built by EllisDon construction — has itself proved resilient, without pandemic delays.

Hitches have been small, and sometimes feathered. The facade of the demolished T&T grocery store on Cherry Street has to stay up until some barn swallows, a “threatened” species, finish nesting there. A work-site tent lingers for the same reason.

“We’re on time and on budget,” Kusturin says.

Eventually 1.4 million cubic metres of soil — enough to fill the Rogers Centre — will be moved to create a natural-looking, almost 1.5-kilometre valley connecting a “renaturalized” Don River mouth with Toronto’s inner harbour to the west.

Shenker, Waterfront Toronto’s senior manager of communications and public engagement, explains what visitors will actually see when the river valley and island open to the public April 1, 2024, or sooner if Waterfront Toronto manages to speed things up.

“We’ll have the only natural shoreline on the inner harbour,” with places to launch kayaks and canoes, she says, pointing to what will become several new parks with native plants and forest, plus offshore aquatic habitats.

Maybe the city can add kayaks to its expanding Bike Share short-term-rental system, one of our walking crew suggests.



“You will be able to show up and picnic and barbecue and spend the whole day” in two new riverside spots, much like people now do on the Toronto Islands, Shenker says.

“The north park will be highly programmed with nature play, including ziplines, badlands-type topography and more,” she says, “while the south side will be quieter with more trails, letting people decide how they want to use the spaces.”

She points to where cyclists will be able to ride through the site, or commute past it on a Commissioners Street path. Cherry Street is being shifted a little west, and its intersection with Lake Shore Boulevard East, currently a headache for cyclists, fixed.

For now, the emerging valley is off-limits to all but construction crews. Torontonians will soon, however, see a big part of the project float into town.

Waterfront Toronto is creating 11 kilometres of new park space for the project, including a 1.5-kilometre valley connecting a “renaturalized” Don River mouth with Toronto’s inner harbour to the west.

Waterfront Toronto has commissioned stylish bridges to connect Villiers Island to the surrounding site — some just for public transit, others for vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians.

The first, being built now in Dartmouth, N.S., will be barged down the St. Lawrence Seaway and hoisted into place in late September or October.

“It’s quite large so people there should be able to get a good look at it when it arrives in the harbour,” says Troy Garnett, vice-president of sales and business development at bridge maker Cherubini.

“The other bridges are much larger and should arrive in 2021 and 2022.”

By the numbers:

  • 2 million herbaceous plants to be planted
  • 5,000 trees to be planted
  • 13 buildings on site have been demolished
  • 900 buildings off-site will cease to be in a floodplain
  • 4,865 residential units will be on Villiers Island
  • 3 kilometres of new waterfront access is being created

  • 11 kilometres of new park space is being created

David Rider

David Rider is the Star’s City Hall bureau chief and a reporter covering city hall and municipal politics. Follow him on Twitter: @dmrider

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How Dusty Springfield made a remarkable comeback

Because of all this, it felt like a minor pop miracle when Pet Shop Boys’ Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe resuscitated her career just two years later. When the duo first approached Springfield with the duet in 1985, she turned them down – a glaring example of her self-sabotaging streak in action – but Wickham and the song’s co-writer Allee Willis managed to change her mind. According to Aston, collaborating with Tennant and Lowe during their imperial phase “brought her back to the forefront of British pop”. Like Tina Turner’s return to the charts earlier in the decade, Springfield’s appeal was predicated partly on her public image as a great survivor. “She still had the big hair and make-up that people remembered her for, and crucially she still sounded great,” Aston adds.

Looking back now, it’s a shame the Pet Shop Boys didn’t make an entire album with Springfield: a year earlier, they’d written and produced Results, a sparkling LP that reinvented Liza Minnelli as a classy contemporary pop diva. However, Tennant and Lowe were apparently put off by Springfield’s painstaking approach to recording, which was caused by her own nagging self-doubts telling her she was a ‘fraud’. “Doing a whole album with Dusty would probably give you a nervous breakdown,” Tennant recalled in the Pet Shop Boys’ recently reissued 1990 tour diary, Literally. “She recorded Nothing Has Been Proved one syllable at a time. It took two days.” 

The poignant subtext

So the Pet Shop Boys only oversaw side B of Reputation, with side A split between their regular collaborator Andy Richards, Swing Out Sister producer Paul Staveley O’Duffy and musician-producer Dan Hartman, who’s best known for recording the original version of Relight My Fire. Side A’s glossy pop-soul songs now sound a little dated in places, but Springfield’s voice – huskier than on 1960s hits such as You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me and Wishin’ and Hopin’, but still pretty magnificent – always cuts through the clutter.

Side A peaks when Springfield’s soaring performances spotlight lyrics which offer some clever and poignant subtext. It’s hard not to read Born This Way, which shares its title with a recent queer anthem by Lady Gaga, as a tacit acknowledgement of Springfield’s sexuality. Either way, elsewhere she definitely connects with world-weary lines that appear to reference her rollercoaster career. “There’s one thing in life, I have no doubt – you’re on the way up, or on the way out,” she sings knowingly. Equally, the stirring title track seems to acknowledge Springfield’s lifelong fear of having her private life dissected in the press. When backing singers chime in with “a reputation isn’t worth the patience – who cares what they’re thinking?”, it’s a very moving moment.

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