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Boomer officially calls time on glittering career

Brent Harvey has officially retired from AFL football - ${keywords}
Brent Harvey has officially retired from AFL football
My decision not to pull on another team jumper is the reason why I'd like to announce my retirement from AFL footy
Brent Harvey

BRENT Harvey has announced his retirement from AFL football at North Melbourne's best and fairest count on Friday night.

The AFL games record holder toyed with playing on after North informed him before this year's final home and away round he would not be offered a contract for 2017.

But Harvey told a gathering of 900 North players, staff and supporters in Docklands he could not bring himself to pull on another club jumper.

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"I have wrestled with his decision since the day we were beaten by the Crows. I think my footy is good enough to go on and the fact that I love my footy so much is why this has been such a tough decision," Harvey said.

"I would like to tell everyone in this room tonight that my decision not to pull on another team jumper is the reason why I'd like to announce my retirement from AFL footy.

"It's been an amazing journey. I would have been extremely privileged to play one game for the North Melbourne Football Club, let alone play here for 21 years.

"I am extremely excited about my next phase of life with my family and can't wait for my next challenges."

Hoo-roo to four great Kangaroos

Harvey's decision was greeted by rapturous applause. He is likely to continue playing football next year in the Northern Football League with division two club North Heidelberg alongside younger brother Shane.

He retires as the Kangaroos' best player since Wayne Carey.

A VFL/AFL record 432 games, a club record five best and fairest awards, four All Australian selections, the 1999 EJ Whitten Medal and a runner-up finish in the 2007 Brownlow Medal is a fair return for someone many thought was better suited to a career as jockey when he was taken by North with pick No.47 in the 1995 national draft.

Harvey stood just 168cm and weighed 64kg when he reported for his first day of pre-season training at Melbourne's 'Tan' running trail, alongside battle-hardened stars such as Carey, Glenn Archer, Anthony Stevens, Wayne Schwass, Mick Martyn and Corey McKernan.

 

That 'jockey' might have been part of Carey's support cast in North's glorious 1990s era – he missed the 1996 flag in his debut season and was an emerging star rather than the genuine article when the Roos saluted again in 1999 – but he would go on to outshine nearly all of that generation's stars, with Carey the only one who soared indisputably higher.

Season review: North Melbourne

Once the Pagan-Carey era fizzled out in the early 2000s, Harvey really came into his own.

From 2003, he claimed five best and fairest awards in eight seasons, while he won the AFL Media Association MVP award in 2008.

Blessed with a seemingly ageless body and soft tissues that were anything but soft, Harvey remained one of the Roos' most damaging players right up until he signed off with 25 possessions in the elimination final loss to Adelaide.

In 2014 and 2015, at the ages of 36 and 37 respectively, he finished fourth in North's best and fairest count, while this year he kicked a career-high six goals in the round three win over Melbourne en route to equalling his previous best season tally of 36 set in 2007.

Harvey at his best was simply exhilarating to watch. Quick, elusive and cheekier than a Jack Russell, he could break games open like with long jinking runs and thread the ball through the goalposts from seemingly impossible angles.

Brent Harvey and Lindsay Thomas in tears after elimination final loss. Picture: AFL Photos