— North Melbourne (@NMFCOfficial) August 24, 2016
The future of the ageing stars (Dal Santo and Firrito are 32, Petrie 33, and Harvey 38) was always reasonably uncertain, but to cull all four in such an unceremonious fashion ranks as one of the great shocks of the AFL season.
“North Melbourne has made the difficult decision not to re-contract four of its most decorated players.”
“The club is indebted to these four individuals for their professionalism, leadership, attitude and competitiveness.”
Senior coach Brad Scott fronted media a short time ago, revealing that the decision to bring the announcement forward by one week was done to allow the four to play a farewell game in Melbourne (this weekend’s clash against GWS at Etihad Stadium), with the very real possibility of playing a final on the road looming.
“Firstly, it’s a heartbreaking decision and one that wasn’t taken lightly The decision was taken to move the announcement forward because we were determined to give then the opportunity to play in Melbourne.”“The decision has been made in the best interests of the football club. I’m not ashamed to say I love these guys and if they were here in 2017, I’d play them. That would not be in our best interests. It’s about where the club is positioned for the medium-to-long term.”“If we continued to play our senior players, we’d lose them in a year and we’d lose our younger guys because of a lack of opportunity.”
No matter which way you spin it, this is bloody huge. And the free agency market just gained a massive crop of ready-made veterans that any club on the cusp would be be licking their lips over.