Martin saga renews hope for one-club fairytale
THE protracted saga of will he go, won't he go with Dustin Martin finally came to an end.
The superstar midfielder spurned an extra $2million from North Melbourne to remain with Richmond until after his age 33 season. It will likely make Martin a Tiger for life.
Even with the AFL finals series on the horizon, the raging Brownlow Medal favourite has stolen all the headlines in recent weeks.
When news broke that Martin was set to re-sign with the Tigers, you could almost hear the collective sigh of relief from 80,000-plus fans down Melbourne's Punt Rd.
Dusty was staying! The out-pour of emotion was palpable.
Second only in their hearts to breaking a 37-year premiership drought, you could not blame Richmond fans for shedding a tear at the news.
Martin said it "felt like I was cheating on a girlfriend", and indeed Richmond fans would have felt just as heartbroken if their favourite son left for this season's 15th-placed team.
In a modern sporting age of 'money talks, loyalty walks', Martin's decision was a surprising one. He put relationships and team success ahead of his bank account.
Once upon a time, being a one-club player was something every AFL player gave lip service to doing.
It was a fairytale story to spend your entire career at one club, through the highs and lows; if you were good enough, and the club thought you were good enough, you were staying.
But at some point in the last decade, that school of thought disappeared from the modern football consciousness.
Last season we saw Hawthorn legends Sam Mitchell and Jordan Lewis moved on for practically nothing - North Melbourne let more than 800 games of experience walk out the door when they said goodbye to four club stalwarts.
Professional sport has become more like a business since the turn of the century, and I've written at length about why I do not see this as necessarily a bad thing. Athletes are just one severe injury away from their sole source of income disappearing, and cashing in whilst at their prime is something us sporting mortals cannot begrudge them doing.
But irrespective of players chasing money, the news Martin had re-signed was a breath of fresh air.
Richmond fans have suffered for the better part of 40 years. On the eve of their most promising finals campaign in two decades, to lose their best player would be a very Richmond-like thing to have happen.