David Schwarz takes aim at Melbourne Demons amid sad situation around Clayton Oliver

The AFL club announced this week that Oliver is taking an extended break.

Clayton Oliver, pictured here alongside Melbourne Demons coach Simon Goodwin and captain Max Gawn.
Clayton Oliver's absence has extended a tumultuous time for the Melbourne Demons. Image: Getty

Melbourne Demons great David Schwarz has offered a damming assessment of his former club, amid the turmoil surrounding Clayton Oliver and Joel Smith. The Demons announced on Thursday that Oliver is taking extended leave to deal with personal issues after he didn't attend pre-season training with his teammates.

There is no firm indication of when Oliver will be back in the AFL, in the latest setback for the four-time club best-and-fairest winner. The 26-year-old has battled injuries and medical issues in the last 12 months, and questions have also been asked about his off-field behaviour and professionalism.

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The culture at the Demons has repeatedly come under fire in recent months, with utility Joel Smith also copping a provisional suspension for recording a positive in-season drugs test for cocaine. Discussing the situation on Thursday, Schwarz was scathing.

“There’s just too much smoke around Melbourne at the moment,” he said on 3AW radio. “The Joel Smith (positive drugs test), there’s been board issues and Clayton’s issues. There’s just something not right down there at Melbourne, I don’t know what it is ... some of the choices Melbourne players are making are the wrong choices, for whatever reason that is.

“I’m not blaming the captain, coach or the club, just looking from the outside in – there’s clearly choices being made by players that are selfish and would indicate that it is not a really happy environment at the moment. Because things like this don’t happen in good clubs, they just don’t. I know there’s great people at every footy club, but there’s just something missing at Melbourne at the moment and I think it’s a bit of a concern for supporters that all the news coming out is not positive.”

Clayton Oliver and Joel Smith.
Clayton Oliver and Joel Smith at Melbourne Demons training. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

David Schwarz expresses hope for Clayton Oliver return

The former club best-and-fairest said he had "no sympathy" for Smith, while expressing his hope that Oliver can turn things around. “Footy clubs are a great place to be for young men, but sometimes you’ve got to walk away and deal with your own health and get yourself right,” he said.

“There’s no doubt he’s got a bit of an uphill climb ... I’ve spoken to enough people around the club to understand he’s got a battle to get himself right, he’s got multiple issues he needs to deal through. I’m hoping, like every other Melbourne fan, Clayton can get better and he can play in 2024 in some shape or form ... we’re hoping like crazy he has the right people around him and he’s getting the right help and advice.

“And that he’s working as hard as he can to get back to something he loves. Sometimes (footy is) your safe place, but I think for Clayton at the moment, that’s not his safe place, his safe place is to be away.”

David Schwarz, pictured here in 2002 after retiring from the AFL.
David Schwarz in 2002 after retiring from the AFL. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

The Demons released a statement from football boss Alan Richardson when Oliver didn't join his teammates on Thursday morning at the club's Casey Fields training base. "Clayton has personal issues that he has been dealing with," Richardson said.

"Clayton has been working extremely closely with his personal medical team, and with the support of key club staff, in order to manage these challenges. The club fully supports Clayton taking this important time out, which will allow him to focus on these challenges.

"Our primary focus is Clayton's overall wellbeing, and we will continue to support him through this period. It's important for Clayton that we respect his privacy and his need for time and space."

with AAP

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