Wayne Carey has opened up for the first time about why he decided to walk out on North Melbourne rather than simply apologise to Anthony Stevens when he was caught in an affair with his teammate's wife in 2002. Carey was infamously caught cheating with Stevens' wife Kelli at a party, and decided to quit the club in disgrace just a few days later.
Stevens has claimed that Carey has never apologised, and the pair were reportedly involved in a heated stoush at the club's premiership reunion last year. This week, Carey opened up about why he walked away from his beloved club on his new podcast 'The Truth Hurts' while speaking with former coach Denis Pagan.
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“It was the greatest tragedy in my time in coaching. Even to the point now I knew how much pressure you were under,” Pagan told Carey on the podcast.
“I wish we could have changed it. You could have come out straight away and said, ‘I am terribly, terribly sorry.’ I thought you were reluctant to say you were sorry at the start.
“It’s easy for me to say I wish you had done this and I wish you had grabbed 'Stevo' and embraced him and said, 'I am terribly sorry, whatever you want me to do I will do it'. But that is easy for me to say, I don’t want to know the details of it. It is just one of the sad facts of life.
“You talked about regrets, it’s one of your biggest regrets and I am sure even now if you could have done anything to change it, it did destroy the fabric of the football club and we did pick up the pieces a bit but we were never quite the same. When I think how close everyone was and how close you were, it was tragic.
"We had such a bond and it was broken and even now there is still a bit of angst and I hate to see it. All we can do now is pick up the pieces. I see you, I see Glenn (Archer) and I see Anthony and I just wish it could have been like the old times.
“I wish you could have gone up to Echuca for the weekend or Sydney for the weekend and come back and have all been mates and tricked the coach that you’ve only had two chandies and didn’t have a beer and we could have all gone on but it happened, that’s life we’re not going to change it and these things occur. When I think of it now it still devastates me to think, I wish it didn’t happen but it’s life.”
Wayne Carey explains decision to quit North Melbourne
Carey admitted he never even contemplated apologising to Stevens because he simply thought he had to leave the club straight away. “I was really quick to just ring (North Melbourne officials) Geoff Walsh and Greg Miller and rang straight away," he said.
“The thought was, they say fight or flight. But straight away the thought for me was I have got to walk away. There was no other thought in my mind.
“For those who think I got sacked, that wasn’t the case. I quit straight away. There was no thought. The apology thing never really came into mind at that point. It was just, 'I have to separate myself from the club'.”
Stevens was one of a number of players who caught his wife with Carey in a bathroom at a birthday party ahead of the 2002 season. Carey was North Melbourne captain at the time, but sat out the 2002 season before joining the Adelaide Crows.
Speaking last year on reality TV show SAS Australia, Carey described the scandal as the "biggest regret" of his life. He added: “I slept with a teammate’s wife. It’s haunted me for 20 years.
“The affair, it’s the biggest regret of my life as an adult. I’ve done a lot of work, I’m trying to overcome it.
“People say people can’t change - you haven’t lived in my shoes if you say people can’t change. People can change, they evolve and I’m a perfect example of someone that’s been able to evolve.”
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