Will Martyn to make his AFL debut for Richmond

Submitted by Peter Blucher.

Thirty-three years after he was crowned the king of Queensland football Andrew Martyn is set to enjoy an even greater thrill when he watches his son make his AFL debut on Friday night.

Will Martyn, a junior product of the Aspley Hornets and the 2019 Brisbane Lions Academy captain, will live out his lifelong dream when he plays for premiers Richmond against Port Adelaide at the Adelaide Oval.

It will be a moment that his father could only dream of. After all, when he won the Joe Grant Medal as best afield in Windsor-Zillmere’s 1988 QAFL grand final win over Southport the new-look national competition was barely 12 months old.

The Brisbane Bears  and West Coast Eagles had joined in 1987, but Port Adelaide, Adelaide, Fremantle, Gold Coast and the GWS Giants had not even been heard of.

Martyn, a powerhouse key position utility with an ungainly kicking action, was a 200-game star of Queensland football and a premiership player with Zillmere in 1988 and 1995.

His Zillmere / North Brisbane teammate Cam Buchanan, brother of Will’s mother Sue and the 1991 QAFL Grogan Medallist, was another local football ace in the extended family.

But the pathway to the big-time for aspiring QAFL players was challenging at best, and at the time of Martyn Snr’s memorable grand final day moment in 1988 only 34 Queenslanders had played at the highest level.

Martyn will be the 188th product of Queensland football to play in the VFL/AFL after Kedron centre half back Erwin Dornau, a star for Queensland at the 1947 national carnival in Hobart when runner-up in the Tassie Medal for the carnival’s best-performed player, debuted for South Melbourne in 1948.

Martyn will carry a secret weapon on his back, wearing the #36 jumper which League superstar and namesake Dustin Martin wore in his first season at Tigerland before switching to his beloved #4 in 2011.

It will be a double debut as midfielder Martyn shares the moment with Tasmanian Rhyan Mansell, who only joined the Richmond playing list via SA club Woodville-West Torrens on 17 February.

Martyn and Mansell were told of their selection by senior coach Damien Hardwick on Wednesday, with a club video of that moment posted on the Richmond website.

In a largely one-sided conversation Hardwick asked Martyn “do you want to play?” and “are you ready to play?” He nodded.

Hardwick continued: “Have you got the qualities that are going to exhibit a Richmond-man type of attitude?” and put a giant smile on Martyn’s face when he added “so do we”.

He went: “We love that you’re going to wear a Richmond jumper this week. We’re loving what you’ve done and what you’ve become and we can’t wait to see what you’ve got to offer”.

Later, Andrew Martyn is heard replying “you’re a legend – well done” after his son broke the news via telephone.

“That’s what you went down there for … I’m very proud of you,” said his father, who is set with wife Sue to join the big occasion in Adelaide tonight as Richmond looks to rebound for an uncharacteristic loss to Sydney last week.

Click here to see the video

Martyn, who celebrated his 20th birthday on 29 March, is in his second season at Punt Road after being claimed by Richmond with selection #44 in the 2019 AFL National Draft.

He was part of a double raid by the Tigers on the Lions Academy, who claimed Sunshine Coaster Noah Cumberland at selection #43.

It was a draft in which Richmond took Thomas Dow from the Bendigo Pioneers at #21 and Brisbane followed with Deven Robertson from Perth at #22 and Brock Smith from the Gippsland Power at #33.

At #37 Essendon lodged a bid on Lions Academy product Keidean Coleman. The Lions matched the bid to keep the livewire forward, who last October became the first (and still only) player from the 2019 draft to play in an AFL final.

At #43 Richmond bid on Cumberland and secured the medium-sized pressure forward from Maroochydore when Brisbane, getting tight for list spots, elected not to match the bid.

The same thing happened at #44 when the Lions again chose not to match the Tigers’ bid on Martyn before later picking up recent debutant Jaxon Prior from West Perth at #59.

It was a calculated gamble by the Lions recruiting staff, effectively prioritising Coleman over Cumberland and Martyn after the trio had played in the club’s 2019 NEAFL premiership win.

It will be judged in hindsight as was their 2015 decision not to match a bid from North Melbourne at #43 on Academy player and Aspley product Corey Wagner. He played eight games at North in 2016-17 and 11 games at Melbourne in 2019 but was delisted last year.

Martyn, who grew up idolising Brisbane champion Michael Voss, was passed over in 2019 despite being judged the Most Valuable Player for the Lions Academy in five matches against NAB League opposition in which he averaged 29 possessions, four clearances, five tackles and five inside 50s.

In his pre-draft profile shared by the AFL he was described as “a lightly-framed midfielder who can find the ball easily. Has good flexibility, can play inside and outside, has sound endurance and neat skills”.

Such was his attention to things like rehabilitation, recovery and diet that soon after he arrived at Richmond he was described by the club’s recruiting boss Matthew Clarke as ‘the ultimate professional’ and ‘one of the more professional kids you’ll come across’.

Still, it was a tough time for Martyn and Cumberland to join the AFL as Covid forced the competition into lockdown after Round 1 and restricted non-AFL players to scratch matches in hub situations for the rest of the year.

Martyn was sidelined by a foot problem from Rounds 3-12 but was named as a senior emergency for Round 14, while Cumberland’s first season in the AFL was cut short when he underwent a knee reconstruction last May.

But still the Queensland pair witnessed from the inside the Tigers’ 2020 premiership win at the Gabba before Ansell and Martyn tonight (Friday) become the 1169th and 1170th playing members of a club that joined the then VFL in 1908.

Martyn will be the 10th Queensland product to play for Richmond after Richard Murrie, Luke Weller, Andrew Raines, Ricky Petterd, Brad Miller, Luke McGuane, Trent Knobel, Shaun Hampson and the currently-listed Mabior Chol.

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