Sydney. GWS. North Melbourne. Adelaide.

They were the quartet of clubs that were well within a shot to land Dustin Martin at various stages of his now illustrious 15-year career.

Martin - who is set to celebrate his 300th AFL game on Saturday at the MCG against Hawthorn - has staked claims as the greatest player to ever walk onto a football field.

His CV declares it.

Rivalling the likes of Lance Franklin and Gary Ablett Jnr this century, the Tiger champion has done it all.

Premierships. Norm Smiths. Brownlow. AFL MVP. And soon to be the seventh Tiger (104th overall) to reach the 300-game milestone, joining club legends Kevin Bartlett (403 games), Jack Riewoldt (347), Jack Dyer (311), Trent Cotchin (306), Shane Edwards (303) and Francis Bourke (300).


So what happened to the failed appeals from the Swans? Was North Melbourne's money not enough? Was the pull to GWS not great? And when did Adelaide throw their hat in the ring?

Knowing what we know now, it'd be wise if fans of the aforementioned clubs turned away whilst we delve into the rise of Martin the Tiger as we know it.

Tigers we trust as recruiting manager strikes gold, just

Richmond fans have former recruiting manager Francis Jackson to thank for the acquisition of 'Dusty'.

After a disappointing 2009 season, the Tigers held Pick 3 and were certain to use it on Martin.

“He just stood out as being a potential first-round pick, clearly, because of his talent — an early first-round pick,” Jackson said on the Don't Argue documentary.

“We didn't go all that well in ‘09, and we had pick 3. Melbourne had two picks before us, and we weren't sure what they were going to do.”

As good club scouts do, they eye off high-end talent, which Sydney understood Martin to be.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 05: Tigers head coach Damien Hardwick celebrates the win with Dustin Martin of the Tigers during the round 20 AFL match between the Richmond Tigers and the Collingwood Magpies at Melbourne Cricket Ground on August 5, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

Holding Picks 6 and 14 in the 2009 Draft, the Swans attempted to climb up the draft ladder, packaging the pair of selections to secure Richmond's Pick 3.

They failed.

“Sydney (was) very keen on Dustin, and they wanted to trade (picks) six and 14 for our pick 3,” Jackson said.

“Now, normally you would discuss that, and you would take time (to make a decision), but we didn't even discuss it — it was never going to happen.

“I organised to have lunch with his mum and his grandma. I actually told them that we were taking Dustin at pick 3 — unless something radically changed — that Dusty was going to be a Tiger.”


Dustin the Giant?

The year was 2013 and Martin had his first big decision after an impressive four-year stretch at Richmond.

With ties to Sydney (due to his father Shane), the No.4 set his sights on the AFL's newest club, GWS, which had offered him a bumper five-year deal worth around $700,000.

After touring the Giants facilities, the decision looked to be set in stone. Martin's manager Ralph Carr thought that. GWS list boss Stephan Silvagni shared the same feeling.

"We thought the deal was done," Carr told AFL Trade Radio back in 2020.

"Between Dustin, myself and SOS (Stephen Silvagni), we thought he was a GWS player at that point.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 25: Dustin Martin of the Tigers arrives with his manager Ralph Carr after winning the 2017 Brownlow Medal at the 2017 Brownlow Medal at Crown Entertainment Complex on September 25, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

"We'd been up there, Dustin was going to reunite with his father in Sydney because he'd had personal issues about not being closer to his father and we thought the deal was done.

"The next thing I heard, it got pulled from above. I don't think even SOS knows where it got pulled from."

"I actually don't know [who pulled the deal]," Silvagni said.

Carr added: "We thought it was done and then the next time I spoke to SOS, we just didn't know.

"We knew it came from above. Maybe it was the CEO, maybe it was someone at the AFL, I'm not too sure."

"You put Dustin Martin in that GWS team, which they were assembling then, wow … I dare say they would have won a couple of flags."


Roos, Crows, Roos, Crows? Nah, Tigers.

2017. What a big season for the Richmond faithful. 37 years since their last premiership.

And the wait was made much more memorable due to Martin's ongoing contract negotiations.

Hitting free agency, Martin was entitled to explore his options as rival clubs came thick and first for his signature.

“We spoke to a number of clubs,” Carr told Don't Argue.

“I think it's been (made) pretty public who they are."

North Melbourne had come from the clouds with a Godfather offer reportedly around $11 million over seven years.

Adelaide matched it.

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 29: Cameron Ellis-Yolmen of the Crows tackles Dustin Martin of the Tigers during the 2018 AFL round 02 match between the Adelaide Crows and the Richmond Tigers at Adelaide Oval on March 29, 2018 in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by James Elsby/AFL Media/Getty Images)

Speaking on Triple M's Roo and Ditts, Adelaide legend Mark Ricciuto revealed the Crows had pushed hard for Martin before he signed a major deal with Richmond.

"Back in 2017 he was out of contract, he was a free agent and we were on top of the ladder," Ricciuto said in 2020.

"I thought it'd be good to get Dusty Martin to the Adelaide....we had a genuine crack at him as a football club.

"We had just lost Paddy Dangerfield and it was sort of like for like," he added. "We got involved pretty heavily.

"We met with his manager and had a meeting at his house with him and Dusty to do all the things you do when you want to court a player.

"He was absolutely open for it."

Martin eventually knocked back the offers and remained loyal to the Tiger faithful.

"I think we were down to the top three, there was us, Richmond and North Melbourne.

"North Melbourne offered the most, he got $9 million for seven years to stay with Richmond," Riccutto said.

Ironically Martin would meet the Crows in the 2017 Grand Final and would wreak havoc on them once more.


Richmond's ‘Don't Argue' documentary can be viewed on the club's website.