Clayton Oliver in sad new development amid dramas at Melbourne Demons

Melbourne's four-time best-and-fairest winner was hospitalised after a medical episode earlier in the year.

Seen here is Melbourne Demons AFL player Clayton Oliver.
Clayton Oliver is taking an indefinite break from footy in a fresh blow for the player and the Melbourne Demons AFL club. Pic: Getty

Melbourne Demons star Clayton Oliver's off-field dramas have deepened, with the AFL star set to take an indefinite break from the sport as he battles ongoing medical issues. Oliver's 2023 has been punctuated by a number of off-field struggles, with the 26-year-old hospitalised in October after suffering a seizure in what the Demons described as a "medical episode".

Oliver was recently charged with driving with a suspended licence that was issued after the October hospital incident. He will face court in January to face the charges. The club's four-time best and fairest winner also spent time living at the home of Melbourne teammate Max Gawn and his wife, Jessica, with the couple offering their support to the troubled star while Jessica was heavily pregnant.

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Just last week, Melbourne Demons CEO Gary Pert revealed the star midfielder was "in a great headspace" and "100 per cent" committed to the club and its preparations ahead of the new season. "He wants to be part of something really special," Pert said about Oliver. The 26-year-old is recovering from a minor knee operation, but returned to pre-season training with the Melbourne squad earlier than required.

Pictured in these photos is Melbourne Demons AFL star Clayton Oliver.
Melbourne Demons AFL star Clayton Oliver had some well documented struggles in 2023. Pic: Getty

However, Oliver's situation has quickly changed after he attended the first session of a pre-season training camp in Lorne on Monday. Following discussions with Demons hierarchy after Monday's first session, it was agreed that Oliver would take his leave from the club to deal with the problems that have been affecting him.

"Clayton is taking a break as he continues to deal with some personal medical issues," Melbourne football manager Alan Richardson said in a statement. "We are continuing to support Clayton and managing his program in a way that prioritises his health and wellbeing.

"His teammates and staff remain confident he is making good progress." Oliver's professionalism was repeatedly questioned throughout 2023 amid doubts over his future at Melbourne. The 26-year-old suggested his seizure in October was partially due to side effects of his ADHD medication.

Melbourne Demons rocked by dramas in 2023

The midfielder's struggles come after Melbourne teammate Joel Smith was provisionally suspended for recording a positive in-season drugs test for cocaine. Both players were put on notice by the club in an extraordinary open letter to fans in October.

"The club is aware of the personal challenges that Clayton has outside of football and key club experts will remain part of his daily support team," Pert wrote. "Club leaders have very clearly outlined to Clayton the behavioural expectations that we have of him, and these behaviours will be reviewed on a regular basis."

Pert and Simon Goodwin have since addressed the number of off-field controversies at the club but denied the Demons had a culture problem. "There's been some quite high-profile player incidents in the off-season," Pert admitted. "I want to reassure all Melbourne members and supporters.... the culture of the Melbourne FC is very strong and very resilient, and it starts with these guys here (the club's leadership). It's a very strong and aligned culture.

"A strong culture is about calling out when individuals aren't in alignment with the culture, about holding people accountable. We will have challenges of people not being in alignment... (but) we'll continue to drive our cultural programs through our leaders.

"I think it is a competitive edge of ours (the culture) and it's being driven by the best group of leaders I've seen. All individuals within our high-performance program will continue to get the expert support they need for their personal needs," he said. "The club is absolutely there to support those individuals."

Melbourne captain Gawn joined teammates at the club's Lorne training camp on Wednesday, following the birth of his second child. Forward Jake Melksham resumed running for the first time since undergoing a knee reconstruction, which ruled him out of the 2023 finals series, as the Demons went out in straight sets for the second year running, despite finishing the regular season inside the top four.

with AAP

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