After a marvellous two-goal, 25-disposal display in his 150th game, it might be time to insert Clayton Oliver into the discussion of Melbourne's top-tier players of all time, if he hasn't been already.

Once again he has started the season like a house on fire and looks set for another Brownlow-contending campaign in a side touted heavily as premiership fancies.

'Clarry' has dominated the competition for half a decade now with his uncanny knack to win the contested ball and deliver pinpoint handballs in the blink of an eye. His possessions often go unnoticed in highlights packages but have been at the forefront of Melbourne's midfield dominance over the last half-decade along Max Gawn, Christian Petracca and Jack Viney at the helm.

Playing alongside these fellow elites, Oliver's tremendous individual collection of major achievements and accolades has demanded a comfortable place for him within a distinguished group of Demon greats, including Jim Stynes, Ron Barrassi and Robbie Flower.

In his seven completed years at the elite level, Clayton Oliver's has claimed the following notable achievements:

  • 1x premiership
  • 2x AFLCA Champion Player of the Year
  • 3x All-Australian
  • 4x Best & Fairest
  • AFLCA Best Young Player (2017)

Keep in mind this list is hardly complete. This is the production of a 150-game player at only 25 years of age. These numbers compare favourably against the total career achievements of players including Brent Harvey, Kane Cornes and Josh Kennedy.

Some may hesitate to put Oliver in the discussion of all-time greats in the AFL given he is not an established leader at his club or a heavy participant in the media landscape. What he can do though, is rip games apart with his fast hands, explosive running power and physical presence.

He is a clearance king whose cleanliness is second-to-none. He routinely finds teammates with precision from every which way, on the ground or in flight. He is capable of surging forward after a stoppage but he'll also wrap opponents like a python when needed.

After bursting onto the scene in 2016 as an 18-year-old, averaging 19 disposals and five tackles across 13 games, Oliver immediately entered the elite midfielder discussion in 2017, jumping to average 30 disposals, seven tackles and winning his first club best & fairest in year two of his career. He also ranked second in the AFL for contested possessions and fourth for stoppage clearances that same year, giving Melbourne fans a glimpse of the future.

Clayton Oliver during the 2022 AFL Round 1 match between Melbourne and Western Bulldogs (Photo by Cameron Grimes / Zero Digital Media)

From his rookie year onward, Oliver has improved in every season he's played. He has developed his strengths at the contest and with clearances to become the clear-cut best stoppage midfielder in the competition, while improving other facets of his game to become a strong over-head mark and more damaging kick than in his earliest years.

Clayton Oliver's first 150-game stats (per game)

Disposals 29.1
Marks 3.4
Tackles 6
Goals 0.3
Brownlow Votes 0.79
Clearances 6.9
Contested Possessions 15.7


The early career production of Oliver is almost unmatched, rarely do we see players reach the elite level so early in their careers and continuously improve through 150 games the way he has.

We've looked back at six other midfielders of the AFL era who burst onto the AFL scene and maintained excellence through their first 150 games, to see how Clayton Oliver compares to some all-time greats of the competition.

Nathan Buckley (1993-2000)

First 150 game stats (per game)

Disposals 24.9
Marks 4.8
Tackles 1.5
Goals 1.1
Brownlow Votes 0.71


Buckley entered the competition as a 20-year-old in '93 for the Brisbane Bears and dominated in his first year, averaging 23 disposals, five marks and a goal through 20 games; polling an impressive 14 Brownlow votes in year one and winning the Rising Star Award.

His production dropped slightly in his next two years when he joined Collingwood, but his efforts in '94 were enough to earn him his first best & fairest award in year two of his career, much like Oliver.

From 1996 until his 150th game in 2000, Buckley exploded with four All-Australian blazers, three more best & fairest awards, and was named captain of Collingwood in 1999.

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 18: Alan Didak, Nathan Buckley and Brodie Holland sing the club song after winning the round 20 AFL match between the Port Adelaide Power and Collingwood Magpies at AAMI Stadium on August 18, 2006 in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by James Knowler/Getty Images)

Notable achievements in first 150 games

  • 1993 Rising Star Award
  • 4x All-Australian
  • 4x Best & Fairest
  • Club Captain (from 1999)

His best season within this period arguably came in 1998, when he averaged 29.5 disposals, 5.3 marks and a goal per game, polling 24 Brownlow votes in 18 games.

The peak of Buckley's career came in the years after his 150th, where he earned three more All-Australian honours, two more best & fairest awards, a Champion Player of the Year Award and the iconic Norm Smith Medal of the 2003 losing side.

He would also take out the Brownlow Medal that same season in a famous three-way tie with Sydney's Adam Goodes and Adelaide's Mark Ricciuto.

Chris Judd (2002-2008)

First 150 game stats (per game)

Disposals 21.1
Marks 2.4
Tackles 3.5
Goals 1
Brownlow Votes 0.67
Clearances 4.9
Contested Possessions 11.3


Like Oliver, Judd was an 18-year-old in his first year of AFL, averaging 15 touches and a goal through 22 games for the West Coast Eagles in 2002, earning the Best First Year Player Award. In year two, Judd showed signs of what was to come with some outright ridiculous performances, including his iconic five-goal first-half display against the three-peat Brisbane Lions.

By this stage, fans knew what they were witnessing, but likely weren't ready for Judd to completely take the league by storm in 2004, winning his first Brownlow Medal at just 21 years old in an explosive season, averaging 22 touches and a goal per game.

There wasn't much Judd didn't achieve through his first 150 games. A pure impact player, he was capable of winning games off his own boot with limited possession of the ball. His per game stats are dwarfed by players like Oliver who have benefited from the faster pace of games and inflated numbers in recent years, but his collection of silverware can't be denied.

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 12: Chris Judd and Daniel Kerr of the Eagles celebrate winning the round 19 AFL match between the West Coast Eagles and the Kangaroos at Subiaco Oval on August 12, 2006 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

Notable achievements in first 150 games

  • 1x Premiership Captain
  • 1x Norm Smith Medal
  • 1x Brownlow Medal
  • 1x AFLPA MVP
  • 2x All-Australian
  • 2x Best & Fairest
  • AFLPA Best First Year Player
  • 1x Goal of the Year winner

Like Buckley, Judd was a notable goalkicking threat out of the midfield and could change games with his capacity to boot four or five any given week. Many would justifiably argue that this distinguished ability to impact games gives him the nod over Clayton Oliver for their first 150-game production.

Scott Pendlebury (2006-2013)

First 150 game stats (per game)

Disposals 24.8
Marks 4.7
Tackles 4.4
Goals 0.6
Brownlow Votes 0.55
Clearances 4
Contested Possessions 10.1


Pendlebury was a slightly slower burn than Oliver and the other players listed, as he only reached a 25+ disposal average in year four, but the bulk of his on-field accomplishments i.e, a premiership and All-Australian honours, came in his first 150 games.

He played only nine games to kick off his career in 2006 as an 18-year-old, before solidifying himself into the senior squad with a quality season, averaging 19 touches, five marks and a goal per game in 2007, just being edged out by Selwood for the Rising Star Award.

The grace and class of Pendlebury was on full display from this point on however, as he proceeded to rise as a player alongside Collingwood's ascension as a side to become a Brownlow contender by 2010. His greatest achievement came that year when he took home the Norm Smith Medal with his 29-disposal, 11-tackle, seven-mark performance in the Grand Final replay.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 11: Scott Pendlebury and Mick Malthouse the coach of the Magpies look at the trophy after winning the NAB Cup AFL Grand Final match between the Essendong Bombers and the Collingwood Magpies at Etihad Stadium on March 11, 2011 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Notable achievements in first 150 games

  • 1x Premiership
  • 1x Norm Smith Medal
  • 3x All-Australian
  • 1x Best & Fairest
  • 1x AFLCA Best Young Player Award

Pendlebury has since sustained one of the longest-serving reigns of footy excellence seen in recent memory, and is symbolic of what the modern AFL player can achieve given the development of conditional, medical and dietary standards of today's athletes.

At 25 years of age, we can realistically expect Clayton Oliver to maintain his elite-level production for a further 8-10 years, raising all sorts of possibilities of what he could achieve in the totality of his career.

Joel Selwood (2007-2013)

First 150 game stats (per game)

Disposals 25.1
Marks 4.3
Tackles 4.9
Goals 0.5
Brownlow Votes 0.69
Clearances 4.8
Contested Possessions 10.6


We get to the real cream of the crop with regard to beginning an AFL career when discussing Joel Selwood.

It is well documented how the recently retired champion immediately transformed the Geelong Football Club upon his arrival before the 2007 season. People may forget that while he was drafted into an elite football program at Kardinia Park, he was still joining a side lacking premiership success for nearly a half-century.

After five years of Selwood, the Cats won three flags, with Joel being a key contributor to all of them.

His rookie year was stellar. By year two, he was five votes shy of Brownlow status, polling 19 votes and averaging 25 disposals a game.

He may be the single toughest player in AFL history, voted by his peers as the most courageous player twice in his first 150 games. The accomplishments almost speak for him.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 16: Joel Selwood of the Cats handballs whilst being tackled by Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti of the Bombers during the round four AFL match between the Essendon Bombers and the Geelong Cats at Melbourne Cricket Ground on April 16, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Notable achievements in first 150 games

  • 3x Premiership
  • 2x All-Australian
  • 2x AFLPA Most Courageous Player Award
  • 1x Best & Fairest
  • Club Captain (from 2012)
  • 2007 Rising Star Award
  • 1x AFLCA Best Young Player Award

This is an astonishing list of achievements for a 150-game player, a collection that even the likes of Clayton Oliver haven't been able to match.

Nat Fyfe (2010-2018)

First 150 game stats (per game):

Disposals 25.3
Marks 4.5
Tackles 4.1
Goals 0.9
Brownlow Votes 0.94
Clearances 5.5
Contested Possessions 14


Fyfe and Oliver are probably the most visually comparable duo on this list with their size and power that allows them to dominate the contest. While Oliver is quicker and wins more of the footy, Fyfe does more damage in the air and forward of centre.

Fyfe played 18 games in his first year and was significantly impacting games by year two,  polling 13 Brownlow votes and averaging 25 disposals a game. He improved again in year three but only managed 11 games with injuries throughout the year. He still polled 14 Brownlow votes in these 11 games and looked destined to completely break out in 2013.

He did just that in his fourth year, becoming Fremantle's clear best player as a 21-year-old and taking them to their first Grand Final in club history. The Dockers fell to the Hawks that day but everybody knew that Fyfe was well on his way to an illustrious career in the purple haze.

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 25: Nathan Fyfe of the Dockers stands on the mark during the AFL First Preliminary Final match between the Fremantle Dockers and the Hawthorn Hawks at Domain Stadium on September 25, 2015 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

Notable achievements in first 150 games:

  • 1x Brownlow Medal
  • 2x AFLPA MVP
  • 2x All-Australian
  • 2x Best & Fairest
  • 1x AFLCA Best Young Player of the Year
  • Club Captain (from 2017)

From 2014 until his 150th game, Fyfe was arguably the number one player in the comp, perhaps sharing the title in periods with Patrick Dangerfield and Dustin Martin.

His on-field performance may exceed that of Clayton Oliver but Melbourne's 2021 premiership would hold immense value in the minds of many when judging the starts of both careers.

Marcus Bontempelli (2014-2021)

First 150 game stats (per game):

Disposals 22.7
Marks 3.6
Tackles 4.8
Goals 0.9
Brownlow Votes 0.7
Clearances 4.5
Contested Possessions 10.6


We round out the list with the most riveting contemporary player debates of the lot; Bontempelli vs Oliver. In their first 150 games, both were key contributors in a premiership, both won two notable end-of-season awards (Players award/Coaches award). Both earned three All-Australian honours and both have a Best Young Player award to their name.

Bontempelli's leadership as a young player certainly adds to his case, but his stats are dwarfed by Oliver's.

The Bont was showing signs of the future in his rookie year, with some highlight games and moments, including his clutch Goal of the Year contender in the dying stages of a match against Melbourne.

By his third year in 2016, we knew he was a champion of the game. He could slow the game down with poise like Pendlebury, but change the trajectory of a match with his physical presence like Fyfe. After winning the long-awaited 2016 premiership, the rest of Bontempelli's first 150 games were spent dominating games in a variety of ways and developing his leadership to become club captain in 2020.

He had a career-best tackling season in 2017, he was a renowned goalkicker and score-involvement player in 2018, then put together his career-best disposal season in 2019. There wasn't much 'the Bont' wasn't doing in his first 150 games.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 16: Marcus Bontempelli of the Bulldogs celebrates a goal during the round 20 AFL match between the Western Bulldogs and Melbourne Demons at Etihad Stadium on August 16, 2015 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

Notable achievements in first 150 games:

  • 1x Premiership
  • 1x AFLPA MVP
  • 1x AFLCA Champion Player of the Year
  • 3x All-Australian
  • 3x Best & Fairest
  • 2014 AFLPA Best First Year Player
  • AFLCA Best Young Player of the Year
  • Club Captain (from 2020)

Both he and Clayton Oliver have grown into two of the top champions of the game and the debate between the two may carry on for generations to come.

The production of Oliver in his first 150 games is a truly rare feat and has only been matched by the pantheon-level players of the 21st century. Let's hope we get another decade of brilliance from Clarry as his side chases premierships this year and beyond.