North Melbourne’s decision to end Brent Harvey’s AFL career at Arden Street has been met with shock and anger.
The Kangaroos announced on Wednesday that Harvey and teammates Drew Petrie, Nick Dal Santo and Michael Firrito would not be offered new contracts for next year.
Harvey passed Hawthorn great Michael Tuck in round 19 to become the AFL’s games record holder and had expressed a strong desire to play on.
The 38-year-old’s form has not waned in his 21st season – he was the Roos’ best player with 32 possessions and three goals in last week’s loss to Sydney.
“He’s devastated … I’ve just left work and I’m devastated – I’m in shock,” Harvey’s father Neil told The Herald Sun shortly after the announcement.
“I just can’t believe it after Saturday’s performance against Sydney.
“He told me he was feeling great and that age was only a number.”
The club’s Facebook page was flooded with more than 7000 comments from fans in the hours following the announcement.
Some expressed support for the move but many were upset and dismayed, particularly with respect to Harvey, with some directing their anger at coach Brad Scott.
Retired premiership player David King savaged his old club for the timing and manner of the announcement, that was made public in a media statement released via their official Twitter account.
“I’m staggered that they’ve decided to do it prior to round 23,” King told Fox Footy’s website.
“To decide not to re-contract one of the champions of the club is ok, but to treat him like a delisted player and to send out a few paragraphs in a media release is disgraceful and disrespectful.
“Harvey is arguably the second-best player the club has ever had and the best since Wayne Carey … it’s a complete disaster.”
King’s premiership teammate Corey McKernan echoed those sentiments.
“Would’ve thought these blokes deserve a press conference rather than announcing like this? Surely?” McKernan tweeted.