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We have made the difficult decision not to allow discussion on various off-field issues involving the club including the health and well being of our players.

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We do not take this and other issues & this decision lightly.

Of course we believe that these serious matters affecting the club we love & are so passionate about are worthy of discussion & debate & I wish we could provide a place where these matters can be discussed in a civil & respectful manner.

However these discussions unfortunately invariably devolve into areas that may be defamatory, libelous, spread unsubstantiated rumours & most importantly can effect the mental health of those involved.

Even discussion & debate of known facts or media reports can lead to finger pointing, blame & personal attacks and ultimately this is not helpful for the player or the club.

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Please respect this difficult decision. I understand your frustrations in feeling like you can't discuss these important issues but there are other venues on the internet that you can discuss them.

Thank you for your continued support & understanding. Go Dees.

Late last year we made the difficult decision to curb discussion about the private and personal issues surrounding one of our greatest ever players Clayton Oliver as we didn't want this platform to be used as a vehicle to spread rumours that may harm Clayton and the Club during this difficult period.

As you are all aware, Clayton has taken extended leave from the club to manage some personal matters. In light of this, we want to address the Demonland community to ensure that our forum remains a positive and supportive space during this time.

After careful consideration, we have made the decision to open up discussions about footy without Clarry whilst he is on leave, but with some conditions given the sensitive nature of the situation. In light of the private and personal nature of the challenges Clayton is facing, we have decided that our platform should not serve as a venue for speculations, rumors, or discussions regarding his current personal issues.

Therefore, we kindly request that all discussions related to Clarry's absence be confined strictly to on-field matters. We ask that you refrain from delving into any private or personal topics, discussions about the culture of the club, finger pointing and assigning blame or engaging in any form of speculation or rumor-mongering. We will provide all bona fide updates in the separate locked and pinned Clayton Oliver thread.

To ensure the integrity of our community, any posts that veer into these no-go topics will be promptly deleted, and members who violate these guidelines may face potential bans. We understand that emotions can run high, especially in times like these, but we urge everyone to respect this decision and abide by the rules we've set forth. And please don't use this thread to question or dispute these rules.

Please keep the discussion on topic and obey the rules as we really don't want to have to lock this thread.

Let's focus on supporting our players and club on the field and maintaining the positive spirit that makes the Demonland community special.

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Melbourne Demons Lorne training camp: Clayton Oliver goes home, Max Gawn, Christian Petracca | Herald Sun

All eyes are on the prize, an all-expenses paid dinner at an exclusive wine bar in the city.

There is a surprising urgency in the room given it’s 8.20am and the Melbourne players are preparing themselves for a tgruelling day three of their training camp in Lorne.

They were split up into six groups - red, blue, green, yellow, white and purple - when they arrived on Monday and have been battling each other for points through various activities since.

The group with the most points by the end of Wednesday gets the dinner which is why all eyes are glued to what the projector has pictured on the wall.

Coach Simon Goodwin has set up the trivia challenge which involves listening to audio of famous lines from a movie or TV show. There are a few misses before Peaky Blinders is correctly selected which kicks off wild celebrations.

While there is nothing new about group activities at training camps, there is a pointed edge to what the Demons are doing down in the beautiful seaside town.

They’ve heard all the rumours, know they’re under siege from the outside and that their reputation has been harmed by off-field issues combined with a second consecutive straight-sets dismissal from the finals.

Culture has been the buzz word circling Melbourne and the opening of their doors to the media at the training camp is a step towards trying to send a different message.

There is an elephant in the room immediately with no sign of Clayton Oliver. The troubled superstar did travel down to Lorne on Monday but returned back home later that day.

He had missed the club’s training session on Saturday and it was decided it was best for him to deal with his on-going issues away from the group.

The love for Oliver is obvious among the players and coaches, their support unwavering but they know they have to get on with their own business and hope at some stage ‘Clarry’ comes along for the ride.

Regaining the connection which won them the 2021 premiership is what they’re searching for and there is a sense the senior core led by captain Max Gawn, Jack Viney, Steven May, Christian Petracca and Jake Lever are sick of being talked about for the wrong reasons.

The two-hour training session at Stribling Reserve ends with a keepings-off drill back in their colour groups. It’s eight on five with the aim to have the most number of possessions sharing the ball while avoiding the pressuring defenders.

There is supposed to be no contact but when Viney dumps Kysaiah Pickett, football boss Alan Richardson smiles. He loves watching the competitive beasts and they rise to the top in this exercise.

“I couldn’t help myself,” Viney admits later.

Assistant coach Mark Williams is doing a victory lap, the team he was mentoring gets the victory and his own competitive instincts means he wants everybody to know about it.

Gawn, who attended the birth of his second child just a couple of days earlier, spends most of the session on the bike while there is excitement when favourite son Jake Melksham, who blew out his ACL on the eve of the finals, is out on the track doing some running.

After lunch the groups are back in action, with coloured headbands this time, for two hours of activities including running with sandbags, kayaking and ocean swimming.

The team building part of the camp is obvious throughout these series of gut-busting exercises and a keen participant is new recruit Jack Billings.

He became a forgotten man at St Kilda after two injury-riddled seasons and is hoping to reignite his passion for the game as a Demon.

“I always find it challenging being out on the sidelines, but I’ve always loved the game and I think it’s probably in those tougher moments when it makes you reflect and think about why you do it all,” Billings said.

“It’s the reason you commit your life to being a professional footballer – I’d say love of the game is what keeps you going during those times.

“I’m pretty hungry and motivated for next year and looking forward to being part of the Dees and hopefully contributing.”

Billings, 28, has a more pressing engagement on Friday, celebrating his wedding to partner Sarah at Albert Park.

For his new teammates, the legacy of Lorne won’t be played out immediately but there is a confidence throughout the Demons hierarchy that the seeds of change have been sown.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Further update as the club returns to preseason training without Clayton Oliver who remains on medical leave with the club saying that "our primary focus is Clayton’s overall wellbeing." The club also advises:

"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."

Clayton Oliver taking extended personal leave, misses preseason with Melbourne

We all wish Clarry all the best for a speedy return but we can say that, according to Irene on The Mighty Demons Facebook Page, he has been running with a mate at the Tan. When she bumped into him yesterday, he “looked fit and in good spirits”. She said “hello” and “Go Dees” and he was very friendly and we echo her thoughts ~

“Fingers crossed he can get back on track and be the player we all love! ❤️💙


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Mark Robinson is a real piece of work.

“This is not a bash Clayton Oliver exercise because to do so without facts and an understanding of the complexities of Oliver's wellbeing, would be plainly wrong.”

He then proceeds to mention a number of the many unsubstantiated rumours that have been circulating around the traps about Clarrie in recent times, some of which are totally absurd.

Robinson openly says they’re rumours and furthermore tells his readers, “[D]on't believe everything … “ and then, there’s the “but”. There’s always a “but”.

Forgive me, but I’m going to add my own “but” here because Robinson has also been conspicuously absent from his work with his own ailments over the past couple of years and I seem to recall that the rumour mill was working overtime about him and his lifestyle, habits and boofhead behaviour. Back then, I didn’t believe everything but I didn’t repeat the rumours even though he's not exactly “Saint Christopher” either. I won’t repeat them now but who knows? I might be tempted if this hypocrite continues to rant on about the subject in the way he has in this article. 

It’s an example of why we’ve had to take extra care with this and one or two other touchy subjects in the past few months or so.

Enough for now, save and except that I’m really happy to see Clarrie back and I hope he kicks a*** on the footy field again this year as he has throughout his career.

Clarrie, be well. 

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Melbourne champion Christian Petracca has leapt to the defence of troubled star teammate Clayton Oliver, as the 26-year-old remains on light duties around the club.

Oliver has been in the spotlight for all the wrong reason, including his early exit from the club's training camp at the end of 2023, following intense trade speculation as well as a brief hospital visit.

Oliver is yet to return to full club sessions, but it doesn't worry his premiership teammate Petracca on the eve of the 2024 season.

"He'll integrate soon," Petracca told media at the Super Bowl launch at Marvel Stadium on Tuesday.

"It's really nice to see him back with us boys and being around us. He's been training with the rehab group."

Petracca knows that it is not only Oliver in the spotlight, however.

The 28-year-old admitted the Demons have tinkered with their game plan in the hopes of righting the wrongs of the two consecutive straight sets exits from the finals.

And despite Oliver's fitness now in question without a full pre season under his belt, Petracca is certain the star midfielder will be able to slide right in when he returns.

"When you've been away from the club for a few months, obviously there's new things we've improved on and tried to get better at," Petracca said on the Demons' new game plan.

"But he's a pretty good player, so I think he'll come up to speed with that (new game plan) when he comes in."

But despite Petracca's confidence in Oliver's integration back into the team and ability to pick up the fresh game plan, he remained coy on if the 2021 premiership star would even play a game in 2024.

"I'm not too sure," Petracca said.

He did however praise Melbourne's management of the difficult Oliver situation over the past few months.

"I'm not the one making decisions on whether he's playing or not. But I feel like the club's done a really good job over the last few months managing everything," Petracca said.

"There's only so much we can control and as a footy club, we have an incredible culture. We do work hard, we do strive to be the best.

"When he comes into the team, he's one of us and we treat him like one of us."

The Demons will take on Carlton on February 28 in their first practice match, to be held at IKON Park, where Melbourne will be trying out some changes to their game style.

"It goes very quick, 30 days until round zero (opening round). We're playing practice matches next week. It's been really good, everyone is in great shape," Petracca said.

"With us, 95 per cent of the stuff we're doing we're doing really well. Contest, defence, offense. There's no doubt we've got to improve in a few things.

"We're looking at those things, tinkering with a few things, we're trying to change and adapt. The AFL is constantly evolving, new game styles, we'll work at those.

"The last few years have been frustrating. For us, I'm a pretty optimistic person and I see there's only ways to improve and get better.

"Only really actions can tell in 30 days time in round zero."

Melbourne will take on Sydney at the SCG as part of the AFL's new Opening Round, to be played the week before round one of the 2024 season.

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