11:06am Monday 3rd February 2014
By Ashley Loveridge
FOREST Green boss Ady Pennock has finally completed the protracted signing of 6ft 7ins former Bradford City central defender Luke Oliver.
Reports suggested the giant defender had signed on transfer deadline day were unfounded despite manager Pennock and club secretary Michelle McDonald frantically trying to seal the deal.
However, the 29-year-old free agent, who left Phil Parkinson’s Bradford City City by mutual consent last week after over 100 games for the League One club is now a Rovers man until the end of the season with a one-year option.
“We’ve been in contact with Luke for a while now and he just needed to speak to his partner and sort a few things out, but the deal is done and we’re delighted to sign him,” said Pennock.
“Luke is a good age and has played at this level and also gained promotion from League Two.”
Oliver picked up Player-of-the-Year and Player’s Player-of-the-Year awards for The Bantams in 2011-12; and played the first 15 league games during Bradford’s promotion season in 2012-13, before being sidelined with an Achilles injury.
Despite a full preseason behind him, a fit Oliver has played only four times this season in a Bradford squad with strength in depth in the middle of defence.
Oliver began his career as an 18-year-old with Wycombe Wanderers in the old Second Division (now League One) and played four times for them (2002-04).
Between 2004-2006, Oliver featured more than 50 times for Woking in the Football Conference.
He also played alongside Forest Green Academy manager Scott Bartlett while on loan at Salisbury City. He also made 76 appearances for Stevenage Borough and was part of FA Trophy winning side in 2007.
A move back to the Football League with Wycombe in January 2009 saw the imposing centre-half help Wanderers secure a return to League One with automatic promotion.
He started the 2009-10 season as first choice centre-half at Adams Parks before a loan spell with Bradford in March saw him once again join up with Peter Taylor – who had managed Oliver at both Stevenage and Wycombe – which ended in a permanent move to Yorkshire in the summer of 2010. On 22 June 2012, Oliver signed a new two-year contract with the club after they earned promotion to League One.
Oliver played 119 times for Bradford, including four this season, and scored three goals in all.
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