14 May 1978 (age 44)
Place of birth
Preston, VIC (3072)
Age at first & last AFL game
First game: 18y 110d
Last game: 38y 119d
Height and weight
Height: 177 cm
Weight: 75 kg
North Melbourne: 29
Northern Knights (1996)
State of origin
Hall of fame
Australian Football Hall of Fame (2022)
|Club||League||Career span||Games||Goals||Avg||Win %||AKI||AHB||AMK||BV|
|Australia||IR||2000-2001, 2003, 2005, 2008, 2014||10||1||0.10||—||—||—||—||—|
Though he clocks in at only 175 cm (5’ 9”) and 75 kg Brent “Boomer” Harvey was long one of footy’s biggest names. Over 21 seasons with North Melbourne, Harvey endured as one of the game’s elite rovers and small forwards. In round 17, 2014, Harvey became just the fourth player to play 400 VFL/AFL games, a testament to that endurance, and to hard work and adaptability to the modern game.
Harvey played his junior footy a Preston RSL before progressing to the Northern Knights in the Under 18s competition. He was taken by North with pick 47 in the 1995 national draft, and made his debut for the Roos in the last round of the following season. Harvey had only one handball and no kicks in the side that comfortably accounted for Richmond that day, and watched on from the sidelines as his team progressed through the finals to take the 1996 flag.
Breaking back into the side in round five, 1997 (also against Richmond), Harvey did enough to hold his place and before long became a permanent fixture in a powerful North Melbourne team. Blessed with lightning-fast pace on the burst and more than a hint of on-field cheekiness, he played in the finals series of 1997 and 1998, and didn’t disgrace himself in the 1998 Grand Final in which North succumbed to Adelaide.
By 1999 Harvey was averaging 17 touches a game, but come Grand Final day, he excelled, collecting the ball 21 times and kicking a goal as the Kangaroos defeated Carlton to take that year’s premiership.
Over the next 17 seasons Harvey was a virtual ever-present in the North Melbourne side, rarely succumbing to injury and always one of the first names picked on selection night. Harvey’s resilience enabled him to play an AFL record 432 games across 21 seasons, an average of more than 20 games a season. That average could have been even higher had it not been for several transgressions that incurred the occasional wrath of the tribunal.
Accused by some detractors of being selfish, Harvey was anything but – his penchant for long bouncing runs and sidestepping opponents belies a strong team ethic and is in fact evidence of a self-belief that sustained his career rather than detracted from it.
Testament to his playing greatness, Harvey was named All-Australian four times and was a five-time winner of North's best and fairest award. He came second to Geelong's Jimmy Bartel in the 2007 Brownlow Medal count. Harvey was described by AFL hard-man Barry Hall as “someone you hate to play against and that’s a mark of a great player”¹.
Harvey’s speed and skills remained with him until the very end, and he was very keen to continue into a 22nd season, but North Melbourne coach had other ideas, advising that Harvey and fellow veterans Drew Petrie, Michael Firrito and Nick Dal Santo that they would not be offered playing contracts in 2017.
Harvey briefly toyed with the idea of playing at another team (as Petrie went on to do), but in the end decided he would prefer to be a remembered as a one-club player. He will indeed be remembered that way, and also as one of the finest Shinboners to have pulled on the boots.
Author - Andrew Gigacz
1. AFL360, Fox Footy, July 23rd, 2015