Stefan Martin had to wait 180 games and 12 years to play in his first AFL Finals Series. It was somewhat fitting, that after his long wait he was just one of two players, the other being Geelong’s Joel Selwood, to receive maximum coaches votes in the second week of finals.
Martin was highly involved throughout the match with 23 disposals and 24 hit-outs. Most incredibly he played the game with a corky in his left thigh, which Senior Coach Chris Fagan later described as courageous.
But the individual plaudits do not sit well with Martin, as he would rather be playing this week.
“I guess the one thing that’s become crystal clear to me this year that team success trumps anything I do as a footy player,” he said.
“I would much have preferred us to win and me play a stinker.”
Following the Lions loss to the GIANTS Martin tortured himself by watching the game as soon as he got home.
“I think I was wanting to punish myself,” he said.
“It was hard to watch – I screamed profanities about a dozen times, just at little things that didn’t go our way, that I did wrong or we did wrong.”
Now that the dust has settled slightly on the year, the 32-year-old has started to appreciate what the group has achieved.
“As the season unfolded it became a different type of season to any other I’ve had before,” he said.
“Every other September I’ve been watching it from the stands.”
Martin said he now feels like a real member of the Australian Football League, with the Lions playing in September and being a force all year.
“It’s been exhilarating to be part of a team that was actually looking to the pointy end of the season and going to be involved in it,” he said.
One of the highlights of this season has been sharing the journey with his parents Peter and Roesmary who have been there from day one when he started his career at the Melbourne Demons.
“They’ve been so loyal as any parent would be but so unconditionally supportive of me and my career,” he said.
“For all the times they’ve travelled and seen us get belted…
“For them to be excited watching our season unfold and watching us play Finals and all that. It’s been one of the best parts of this and being able to share this moment with them.
“Even on the weekend after the loss, to have them there and have a red wine together… even having that sad moment to share with them.”
Off the field Martin has gone from strength-to-strength in 2019. Having been a member of the Lions leadership group for the past three years, he was turned to as a spokesperson more this year, particularly in the tough times. Martin relished this opportunity.
“I was actually really grateful that the Club turned to me during those times and trusted me to talk,” he said.
“You invest more in the Club as they do to you.
“I take pride in being a spokesperson for the Club these days.”