GARY Oliver has labelled this season his most successful campaign since becoming a professional footballer — because it’s the first time he’s been fully immersed in first-team action.

Ex-Hearts and Queen of the South forward Oliver has previously been in and around the first-team squad at the Doonhamers as well as being involved at first-team level with the Jambos for a brief spell. 

But the 21-year-old says his first season at Cappielow eclipses it all in terms of experience.

He told the Tele: “This season has been different class. I’ve played most of the games which is what I’ve always been wanting to do, it’s probably the first season for me that I’ve been properly involved in a first team.

“It’s been a successful one for the club and, for a good part of the season, myself because I thought I did quite well. 

“For a first season I was one of the players who did play a lot so I’m happy with how it went. Maybe not towards the end of the season, but we did our best.”

Oliver, who starred for Hearts Under-20s before making the move to Palmerston originally, insists the step-up in class cannot be understated. The Ladbrokes Championship has often been described as the most competitive division in Scotland and Oliver doesn’t doubt it.

But he’s pleased with his ability to cope with the pressures of a difficult league because it has been character building and has improved him as a player in the process.

He said: “The Championship is definitely not an easy league. There’s not much difference between the top league in Scotland. I’ve obviously played with Hearts 20s and the first team a few times. Then I was at Queen of the South as well where I was in and out the team and played a lot of games there. But the step-up is unreal from the 20s, because it’s about being young and learning there.

“This season has been a good learning experience for me so it’s been good.”

After an outstanding season for Morton, Oliver is delighted to have played his part in a team that will be remembered fondly by supporters for years to come.

He outlined just a handful of memories that he will personally remember forever from his first full season in Greenock.

He added: “The [Betfred Cup] semi-final is obviously one of the main highlights of the season. Personally though my goal against St Mirren and against Queen of the South when we won 5-0 down there. 

“Those two in particular for me stood out performance-wise and as a team, the semi-final was brilliant.”