Tuesday, 22 February 2011
291 Michael Oliver
Michael is the one on the right
Position : Midfield
Played : 2000-01 to 2002-03
Appearances : 105
Goals : 9
Michael was signed in the summer from Darlington on a Bosman and given a generous three year contract. His career began at Middlesbrough but by the time he moved to Stockport for £15,000 in July 1994 he still hadn't made his League debut.He made 22 appearances for Stockport scoring once but new manager Dave Jones in the original version of his autobiography nominated him as the worst footballer he'd ever worked with (and that actually includes Matt Dickins and Paul Williams) and he released him to join Darlington in May 1996. Michael hardly missed a game for the next four seasons either in midfield or defence and played at right back in Darlington's playoff games in 2000.
Michael was the Parkin player par excellence . He summed it up himself with the quote "the boss likes players who do the ugly things well". Michael's play was wholly destructive ; he harrassed and tackled in the middle of the park then played it short to a man in a Dale shirt. The only creative thing about him was a decent shot which brought him a few goals from the edge of the box. He was reliable but frustratingly limited. With his arrival in place of Jason Peake any pretensions to "pretty" football were jettisoned and an abrasive, attritional style became the norm.
In his first season Michael couldn't displace Gary Jones or Dave Flitcroft and often had to come off the bench. Then towards the end of the season he became the first defensive player to be stuck out on the left wing, a dreary negative tactic that Parkin employed repeatedly in both his spells as manager. Michael was absolutely hopeless in that position which contributed to our ultimate failure to reach the playoffs.
At the start of 2001-02 he managed to get ahead of Flicker in the selection and played in nearly every game earning a grudging respect from the fans for his tenacity. He was a nice, approachable bloke who liked a pint or three as well which helped.
In his third season he was one of the senior players who fell out with our novice manager Paul Simpson partly because he was felt to be leading Paddy McCourt astray off the pitch. As a result he played in less than half the games but he had a big hand in our FA Cup victory against Coventry where he sat on Gary McAllister in midfield and stopped him influencing the game.
Despite Simpson's departure Michael's free transfer wasn't reversed and he went to Barrow for a year before returning to his native north east where he had short spells with a variety of non-league clubs. He was last heard of at Durham City in 2007.