Kangaroos veteran Brent Harvey will break the AFL all-time games record on Saturday night. Kangaroos veteran Brent Harvey will break the AFL all-time games record on Saturday night.
Sport AFL What Brent Harvey is actually like behind closed doors

What Brent Harvey is actually like behind closed doors

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North Melbourne star Brent Harvey breaks the AFL’s all-time games record on Saturday when he runs out for his 427th match against St Kilda.

When I think of Brent Harvey, the first word that comes to mind is teammate.

Not champion, legend or superstar, although those adjectives are undoubtedly appropriate.

Why do I think this way about the great Boomer?

I think it says more about him than it does me.

Before my arrival at North Melbourne, Boomer was one of the players I was most nervous and excited about meeting.

It seemed almost surreal that I would be joining a team that contained such a revered figure.

What quickly became apparent was there is no hierarchy among the playing group at Arden Street.

On the eve of his 427th game and at 38 years of age, you could forgive Boomer for being at the point in his career where he is focused on eking out the last ounces of football his body will allow.

Brown and Harvey celebrate a goal. Photo: Getty
Brown and Harvey celebrate a goal. Photo: Getty

And, after 21 seasons, you could understand if he had reached the point where he had had enough of dealing with the new players at the club, content in the knowledge that the short term is all that matters in the twilight of his career.

But that’s not the way he operates.

For one, Boomer is certainly not content and he’s definitely not eking anything.

To be honest, there isn’t any evidence to suggest that the end is approaching.

From the way he attacks each day of training, Boomer is as spritely as a fresh-faced 18-year-old.

He views every training session as a chance to improve – you can see the pride he takes in hitting every target, running hard to receive a handball, and the sheer (and perhaps slightly smug) delight he takes in beating the other forwards in our post-training goalkicking competitions.

Anyone who watches him train will tell you the same.

Behind all of this is an insatiable desire to win and to play his role for the team.

Harvey shows the kids how it's done. Photo: Getty
Harvey shows the kids how it’s done. Photo: Getty

The most devastated I have ever seen Boomer is after a game when he feels he has let the team down.

The disappointment is written all over his face.

It is in these moments that you can see, perhaps most clearly, how much North Melbourne means to him.

I believe it’s this unquenchable craving for success that separates Boomer from the rest.

It’s the reason he is still striving for a second premiership.

He firmly believes this playing group is capable of winning a flag, and he knows how important the team around him is in achieving that success.

We all know the player that Boomer is and what he is capable of on the field. As his teammates, we all know that he is special.

That is why this week is so significant for the club.

Harvey is the ultimate team man. Photo: Getty
Harvey is the ultimate team man. Photo: Getty

We are celebrating an incredible milestone – Boomer is setting a mark that will probably remain unmatched.

This Saturday night, we recognise a spectacular career.

But, even this week, amid all the media, well-wishes and accolades, I know that Brent’s mind will remain focused on winning with and for his teammates.

He does not place himself on a pedestal. He sees himself as one among 44 other players.

Despite the overwhelming level of his achievement, it has never felt like Boomer didn’t have the time for me, a young, shy and awkward kid from Tasmania.

That’s why I feel I am worthy of the honour of referring to Brent Harvey as my teammate, first and foremost.

So, here’s to my teammate, Boomer.

A champion and a true Shinboner.

Ben Brown has played 50 AFL games, including six finals, for North Melbourne since making his debut in 2014. He has kicked 82 goals for the Kangaroos. He will write on football for The New Daily in 2016.

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