The AFL games record holder was of the belief he had another year in him at the Kangaroos but was told by the club yesterday, along with three other veterans, his contract wouldn’t be renewed for 2017.
Harvey posted a heartfelt message on Facebook today thanking fans for their support, saying he’ll talk publicly “when the time is right.
“I was given the opportunity, along with Drewy (Petrie), Spud (Michael Firrito) and Dal (Nick Dal Santo), to speak to the media yesterday but physically couldn’t,” the 38-year-old wrote.
“I would have broken down and didn’t want to do that. I want to be clear that is (sic) wasn’t because we were angry, like some people are suggesting.”
Harvey, who has played 430 games for the Kangaroos, said the news left him flat and sad but he held no ill-feelings towards coach Brad Scott.
“I need you all to know that I’m OK with what’s happened,” he wrote.
“Brad and those in charge had a tough decision to make. I’m not angry at them about it at all.
“More than anything, I appreciate Brad’s honesty because I put him in a difficult situation when I asked to know where I stood.
“He did the right thing and told us all the truth.”
Harvey was approached by Carlton and Hawthorn at times in his career but opted to stay at Arden St because the club meant the world to him.
He may now be forced to consider playing against the Kangaroos if he wishes to continue his AFL career.
But with finals looming, Harvey said thoughts of new contracts had not entered his mind.
“This has all happened so fast and I haven’t had a chance to consider what’s next,” he wrote.
“After the season, I will weigh everything up with my family and manager.”
Harvey’s manager Shane Casley believes offers from rival clubs won’t surface until after the current season.
“We’ll catch up once the season is over and chat about all that,” Casley told radio station RSN927 on Thursday.
“I wouldn’t expect that they will while the footy season is on.”
Harvey, who will turn 39 next May, approached the Kangaroos as recently as the past month to tell the club he could play another season.
North Melbourne axed 1,337 games of AFL experience on Wednesday, with the contracts of Harvey, All-Australian Petrie, Firrito and Dal Santo not renewed for 2017.
But the club is yet to decide whether Jarrad Waite will continue next year.
Former Carlton forward Waite, who is currently sidelined with a hip injury, is also approaching the end of his career and will be 34 years old when the 2017 season starts.
The Kangaroos are expected to retain Waite but coach Brad Scott was tightlipped about the topic yesterday.
“The discussions are ongoing as to the rest of our list build,” Scott said, when asked about Waite.
Waite underwent hip surgery last month in an effort to be fully fit for finals.
Scott confirmed he will not play against Greater Western Sydney on Saturday, when the Kangaroos’ regular season wraps up at Etihad Stadium.
“Waitey we’re training up and aiming to get him cherry ripe for an assault at finals,” Scott said.
“But he won’t play this week.”
Scott also ruled out the prospect of injured trio Ben Jacobs, Scott Thompson and Sam Wright facing the Giants.
Shaun Higgins and Luke McDonald could however both return on the weekend.
“They’re the two most likely (Higgins and McDonald). It depends on how they train,” Scott said.
Meanwhile, Scott hoped Harvey, Petrie, Firrito and Dal Santo would stay involved with the club.
“All of the boys will play significant roles in the football club’s future … if they’re really keen to be involved,” Scott said.
“On field for mentoring and potentially coaching the players, and off field ambassadorial roles.
“But the legacy they’ve left will be indelible and enduring.”
Scott said he understood “a lot of fans will be disappointed”, and sure enough he was heckled during yesterday’s training session at Arden St, while one supporter called in to cancel their membership.
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.
“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.
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