Mile­stone man Oliver makes it a 50th game to re­mem­ber

The Riverine Herald - - SPORT - By An­drew John­ston

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.

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