New honour board in store
Shepparton’s Goulburn Valley Grammar School will be able to add AFL premiership player to its list of alumni accolades in a little more than a week’s time when Clayton Oliver, Josh Schache and Alex Keath take to Optus Stadium for this year’s grand final.
Attending the school at different stages of their development, Keath would spend his junior years at Grammar before moving to the city to complete his schooling at Melbourne Grammar School — while Schache and Oliver came to school in their senior years and graduated together in 2015 before being taken in the top five of the national draft.
The school may also have a Brownlow medallist to add to its premiership player with Oliver and fellow old boy Ollie Wines currently the two favourites for the AFL’s most prestigious individual award.
Now preparing for the biggest football game of their lives, three of the boys’ former teachers have come together to share their memories of the trio coming up through the ranks.
Beginning with Keath, who’s place in Saturday week’s game is still under question due to a hamstring injury, memories of the boy from Kialla are incredibly positive as key figures from the school recall a talented student with standout leadership qualities.
Year 12 co-ordinator Chelsea Pohlner said he was a naturally-gifted student that brought out the best in the people around him.
“Alex was a fantastic student to have in a physical education and sport class. He was one of those students who was good at just about every activity that we completed — but more importantly he was always supportive and inclusive of other students; irrespective of their ability, he would bring out the best in them,” Pohlner said.
“Even though he left after Year 9, he was always keenly interested in the school and his connection with it and to the people from it. After he finished Year 12 and having been away from GVGS for three years, running into him, he genuinely enquired about the school, staff and my own family which is a sentiment many staff can relay.”
According to director of co-curricular Shane McDonald, one trait of Keath’s that really stands out is the pride he takes in his hometown and roots at GVGS.
“Alex commenced at the school when he was young and then moved to Melbourne. At the Western Bulldogs’ ‘Junior Club Training Day’, Alex chose to wear the GVGS school jumper reflecting that he is a Shepparton boy to the core,” McDonald said.
As for the man affectionately known as “Clarry”, Oliver came to the school as a Year 7 and quickly made an impression with his football ability and bubbly personality.
“At school, Clayton (a Lions fan) and I would often talk about the Brisbane Lions’ performances and how they should improve. He had a good footy brain and was driven at a young age to succeed on the sporting field and that was very noticeable in the junior/ senior footy teams and junior cricket team,” alumni relations co-ordinator Glen Edwards said.
Hailing from Seymour, Schache would make his way to GVGS in Year 11, where Edwards said the then highly-touted AFL draft prospect quickly went about building solid relationships with teachers and fellow students.
“Josh was always a friendly and an unassuming student at school and was happy to get involved in school activities. I was always interested in his progress through the AFL Academy and how he was going for the Murray Bushrangers,” Edwards said.
“I continue to follow his career closely at the Western Bulldogs. I am just so pleased for him that he has worked on his footy and turned his career around and it is a credit to him that he is now playing in the grand final.”
Graduating in the same year, Pohlner recalls the close connection Oliver and Schache shared in their final years of schooling.
“Clayton and Josh were very different in terms of their personalities and as students, but they were such good mates and supported each other at school, in football and as friends,” she said.
“Early in Year 12, Clayton was not convinced that football would be a realistic pathway for him that year, but it was most definitely going to be Josh’s and he was happy to support him in that. So, it was great to see how they both approached their studies and football throughout the year and navigated what ended up being an exciting development when they were both drafted that year at two and four.”
As the trio continues its final preparations ahead of the big day, McDonald had this message on behalf of the entire GVGS community.
“As a school we are so proud of their achievements. At least one of them will be receiving an AFL premiership medallion which will make the whole Goulburn Valley proud — not just the school,” McDonald said.
“Our school motto is Semper Ulterius which translates to ‘Always Further’ and all three have done this in 2021.”