This weekend Brent Harvey plays his 427th AFL game and in doing so breaks the record for most VFL/AFL Games played. To recognise this momentous achievement The Sportress has declared the week ‘Boomer Harvey Week’. A week-long celebration of the North Melbourne champ and his record we believe will last forever.
Today we continue our ‘Boomer Week’ celebrations by taking a step back in time to the year Boomer was drafted. The unbelievable longevity of the North champ is brought into greater clarity when you see how much the world has changed during his time in blue and white.
The year was 1995, Paul Keating was Prime Minister of Australia, Bill Clinton was President of the US, John Major was PM of the UK. Australia had yet to be embarrassed by Pauline Hanson, who was still running a chip shop in Queensland. Nor had future Prime Ministers Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard or Malcolm Turnbull. The AFL, with the addition of Fremantle that season, had only just become a 16 team competition and among its number were still Fitzroy and the Brisbane Bears.
The competition still clung to its suburban origins. Traditional fan favourite grounds, now long left behind by the competition, still played host to AFL games, including Victoria Park, Princes Park, Western Oval, Football Park, the WACA and Waverley Park. Fitzroy even played a home game against the Eagles at Bruce Stadium in Canberra.
Technology was positively primitive, advancements we would now almost be unable to live without were years or decades from introduction. No Smartphones, no Google, no Facebook, no Wi-Fi or Twitter. Singles actually had to be sociable and meet each other in person because no one had even thought about such a thing as Tinder.
No smart phones meant 90s teenagers had to run the landline phone gauntlet if they actually wanted to communicate with friends. If you were successful enough to wrestle the phone off your siblings or parents you never knew who would answer. A father was an especially daunting prospect if calling a young lady or even worse an engaged signal because the phone was in use or they happened to be accessing the internet. Terrors the teenagers of today will never know.
On the box a number of favourites continued to entertain. Mornings saw a battle for the remote control as kids agitated for Agro’s Cartoon Connection while their parents may have preferred the still running Today show. Ray Martin drew large numbers of housebound eyes at lunch time with his long running Midday Show while families gathered together on the weekends in front of Hey Hey its Saturday. The Pay TV revolution began, the first tentative steps taken with the launch of Galaxy in January followed by OptusVision in September and Foxtel a month later.
Football coverage in Melbourne was unbelievably different to today’s world. Delayed coverage on Friday night, live interstate games on Sunday and Matchday Saturday. A delayed highlights package focusing mainly on one of the day’s games with ‘Around the Grounds’ coverage of the others. A long way from today’s ability to watch all nine live on tv or on mobile devices anywhere in the world.
It was a big year at the cinema Die Hard with a Vengeance, Apollo 13 and Seven all wowed audiences in Australia. Pierce Brosnan made his first outing as James Bond in Golden Eye, Pixar changed animated movies forever with Toy Story, and Babe, the tale of a pig who wants to be a sheep dog, took Australian cinema to the world.
Silverchair made waves in the music charts with their debut album Frogstomp giving the teenagers from Newcastle a number 1 record. Beyond this it was a mixed year in music, Coolio’s Gangsta’s Paradise was the biggest selling single of the year. It was joined in the top 50 sellers by such names as Seal, Bryan Adams, TLC, Mariah Carey, The Offspring, Hootie and the Blowfish and East 17. Unforgettable, or cringe-worthy, one hit wonders were Cotton Eye Joe by Rednex and Scatman by Scatman John.
Sydney’s Paul Kelly won the Brownlow Medal, Gary Ablett won his third Coleman Medal, Tony Lockett kicked his 1000th career goal the fourth player in history to do so. Carlton claimed their 16th premiership, losing only two games along the way, number 17 did not seem far away at all.
All bar 3 of the current AFL coaches played in the AFL this season the exceptions being Brendon Bolton, who did not play AFL, Rodney Eade who had retired in 1990, and Boomer’s current coach Brad Scott who was still two seasons away from his debut.
It was within this world that the 16 clubs sat down to make their selections in the 1995 AFL Draft. The man destined to play more AFL games than any other was taken with the 47th pick of 77 made that day.
If the sense of bargain isn’t immediately apparent, Boomer has played more games than 51 other players selected in this draft combined.
So much has changed since this day, but one thing has stayed constant, Brent Harvey running out in number 29 for North Melbourne each weekend.