Did you spot the touching tribute Dustin Martin wore to his dad? Tigers star sends a stirring message in comeback game after taking indefinite leave when he struggled to deal with father’s death
- The back of Martin’s boots featured a short message dedicated to his father
- Tigers spearhead returned after missing six games while on personal leave
- Despite lack of match fitness he kicked two goals, had 23 possessions
Dustin Martin honoured the memory of his late father by wearing a stirring tribute to him as he returned to footy for Richmond’s big win over Collingwood on Saturday.
The Tigers superstar took to the MCG wearing boots bearing the message ‘Live Free, Die Free, SM’ after missing six games so he could grieve after his dad died suddenly last December.
Martin finished the clash with two goals and 23 disposals, sparking emotional scenes when he kicked his first major of the match three minutes into the third quarter and was swamped by his ecstatic teammates.
The ‘Live Free, Die Free, SM’ message can be seen on the back of Martin’s boots as he shakes hands with Collingwood’s Steele Sidebottom after the Tigers’ win
Martin (second from right) was swamped by his overjoyed teammates when he kicked his first goal against Collingwood in the third quarter
‘It was a pretty touching moment when he kicked that goal and the whole side got to him,’ Richmond coach Hardwick said.
‘I’d say there was a few misty eyes in the coaches’ box and down below as well.
‘It was a nice moment to get some reward for his hard work that he’s put in on himself.’
The 30-year-old spent time in Sydney during his indefinite leave from the club and trained with ex-NRL star turned heavyweight boxer Paul Gallen before being sighted at a mate’s wedding in Melbourne and during a gym session in Port Melbourne.
Hardwick warned during the lead-up to the Collingwood clash that Martin would likely only be at 50 per cent of his brilliant best, but he was heavily involved in the match.
Nick Daicos was on the end of a trademark Martin fend as his return sparked the Tigers to a huge win over their rivals
Tigers players and staff talked up Martin’s galvanising effect on the side in the lead-up to the clash and he defied predictions he’d only be at 50 per cent of his best as he got heavily involved in the action from the outset
Martin first got involved in the opening seconds with a tackle but it took 10 minutes for him to get his first touch, a left-footed screwdriver of a kick that clattered into the head of Collingwood’s John Noble.
His second kick was better. With the ball stuck in the midfield, Martin latched onto the loose Sherrin and got his second punt away. He found Lynch, who connected with Jason Castagna for the Tigers’ second goal.
Moments later Martin pulled out his huge ‘don’t argue’ fend on Nick Daicos and the star was well and truly in the match.
‘There’s the don’t argue,’ commentator Mark Howard said.
‘Good to see the Dustin Martin don’t argue back at the MCG.’
Four-time premiership winner Jason Dunstall added: ‘I think the biggest roar today was the Dusty fend off as well.
‘Probably lucky he didn’t get pinged for a high there.’
Bet he was missing this: Martin celebrates in the sheds after the 27-point win
The three-time Norm Smith Medal winner finished with two goals and 23 disposals
The Punt Road faithful went berserk and every single Richmond player on the field rushed over to Dustin Martin in the third quarter to celebrate his first goal in his comeback game.
Martin had 12 disposals, two marks and six score involvements in a busy first half and he found some space eight minutes into the third term.
The 30-year-old marked despite pressure from Isaac Quaynor and then slotted the goal from a tight angle with ease.
Martin’s second goal came midway through the fourth quarter. He took a great mark to the left of the sticks and tried to play on, but was called back by the umpire.
So he walked back to his mark in frustration, bounced the ball, then took off in the same direction to kick a sharp goal from 35 metres out.