Milestone man Oliver makes it a 50th game to remember
FEW in VFL/AFL history have put together a better first 50 games than Clayton Oliver.
The Echuca young gun reached the milestone in Saturday night’s match against Fremantle at TIO Stadium in Darwin.
And, as is becoming the pattern with Oliver, he finished with 35 disposals in a best-on-ground performance.
Few players have had as immediate an impact on their club as Oliver has.
Oliver claimed a rising star nomination in his first season — 2016 — though Sydney’s Callum Mills would claim the award.
His second season would see him become one of the best young midfielders in the competition.
He was named in the AFL’s 22under22, won the AFL Coaches Association’s best young player award, and capped it off by claiming the Keith ‘Bluey’ Truscott Trophy as the club’s best and fairest last season.
He was also awarded the Harold Ball Memorial Trophy that night as Melbourne’s best young player.
Oliver has rapidly gained a reputation for his ball use.
Some from outside of the club’s four walls have been critical of Oliver’s tendency to handball first.
However, it has been met with strong praise within the football club for providing elite distribution, with some in the media going so far as to say he is the best pure handballer the game has seen since Greg Williams.
Oliver received 12 Brownlow votes in the 2017 season, and the AFL’s Brownlow predictor has him currently expected to poll nine votes to the end of round 16.