North Melbourne champion Brent Harvey has lifted the lid on the devastating impact of the Wayne Carey affair scandal, saying it set the club back "four or five years".
Carey was infamously caught cheating with the wife of teammate Anthony Stevens in 2002.
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Stevens was one of a number of players who busted wife Kelli with Carey in a bathroom at a birthday party.
Club captain at the time, Carey left the Kangaroos in disgrace and moved to the Adelaide Crows after sitting out the 2002 season.
Harvey, who was just starting his AFL career with North Melbourne at the time, has now spoken out about has the scandal affected the club.
“It put our football club back four or five years,” Harvey told the TAB’s Inside 50 podcast with Crawf and Quinny.
“Not in terms of just Wayne leaving, but just everything. Anthony Stevens became the captain, he didn’t need to be captain with everything going on, there was a big divide with the group.
“My initial thought was it’s not true but once you find out something happened it’s like, ‘Wow’.
“We lost not only our best player but our captain, probably one of the greatest players to ever play our game. That’s hard to digest as a young kid that’s trying to win flags and do everything.
“It was big, the press conference, there was people on top of cars, there were people in trees taking photos of a group that did nothing wrong. It was mind-blowing.
“At the time it was huge and you look back and that was a time you probably don’t want to go through again as a football club.”
Harvey praised the way Stevens handled the ugly situation at the time.
“I’m also a massive Anthony Stevens fan, absolutely love the bloke, probably my favourite teammate I’ve ever played with so it was tough,” Harvey said.
“The 10-year reunion wasn’t great, but then the 20-year reunion was OK.
“This is why I love Stevo so much because he’s about everybody else. He’ll shake Wayne’s hand and say g’day to him at the function because he doesn’t want the 16 other blokes sitting in the corner thinking, ‘Have a look at this’.
“I don’t think they’re ever going to be best mates, that’s my opinion, I actually don’t know if Stevo speaks to him or not, but he’s a bigger man than I would ever be.”
Carey's attempt to patch things up with Stevens
The affair occurred just 14 months after Carey married long-time partner Sally McMahon.
Stevens was a groomsman at the wedding.
"He said a couple of words, I told him more or less to stick it and had my piece and walked out," Stevens said in 2014.
"I had known for a while, but until you can actually catch the individuals, it is pretty big speculation to query someone about that.
"In the end, I was the one that actually caught the two of them that night."
Carey, who is now a commentator for Channel 7, revealed in 2016 how he had finally apologised to Stevens ahead of the club's 20-year reunion for the 1996 premiership-winning side.
“As we know, Stevo said on Open Mike a little while ago that he thought that I hadn’t properly apologised so that is where it started,” Carey told Triple M.
“A heartfelt apology. That’s where it started and that’s where it ended.
“You’ll never forget (the affair) and it’s something that will live with me forever, as I’m sure it will a lot of people, which is still sad and I still live with that, but we can go to the event on Saturday and just have a smile on our faces and laugh and people can feel really good about being there.”
After the affair, Carey mended his relationship with wife Sally, the pair having a daughter together before separating in 2006.
Stevens and wife Kelli also stayed together, having two children before going their separate ways in 2008.
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