Little Brent Harvey wore the biggest smile in Melbourne on Tuesday night after North Melbourne’s veteran midfielder beat a charge of rough conduct.
The 167cm veteran of 383 games is free to play in Friday night’s preliminary final against the Swans at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium after an AFL Tribunal jury took 10 minutes to decide Harvey’s contact with Geelong’s Joel Selwood was not forceful.
Selwood gave evidence during the 100-minute hearing that he felt the contact was minimal and Harvey said later he owed the Geelong skipper a beer.
Selwood said he couldn’t recall feeling any impact to the head.
“I felt a trickle. I wasn’t sure if it was sweat or blood,” Selwood said.
Photographic evidence was submitted showing Selwood had suffered cuts above his right eye in 2012, 2013 and 2014.
Player Advocate Will Houghton QC presented evidence from Champion Data which stated Selwood had been sent off 14 times in the past three seasons for the blood rule, more than any other player.
Even Legal Counsel Jeff Gleeson QC conceded Selwood was the “league leader of bleeders”.
However, Gleeson said the sole issue for consideration was whether the impact was sufficient to constitute low impact.
“This was more than negligible impact. He suffered a cut that required four stitches,” Gleeson said.
Geelong’s club doctor Chris Bradshaw said in the Cats’ medical report it was a possibility the scar tissue from Selwood’s previous eyebrow cuts were susceptible to being re-opened.
“Dr Bradshaw puts it as no higher than a possibility,” Gleeson argued.
Harvey said it was “fantastic” to have Selwood give evidence about their clash of heads.
“He just came in and told the truth,” Harvey said.
“I’m so happy. I can’t express my feelings.
“Maybe the smile does a little bit.
“I missed the first final but I get to run out with them again this week so I’m absolutely stoked.”
Harvey is now free to play in North’s first preliminary final since 2007. The 1999 premiership player missed North’s elimination final against Essendon on September 6 as part of a three-match ban for misconduct.
The midfielder told the tribunal his intention was to block Selwood to prevent him from gaining possession in the next passage of play during the second-quarter incident in last Friday night’s semi-final at the MCG.
“I was side on. My shoulder, my elbow was tucked,” Harvey said.
“I thought I did most things right.
“Neither of us hit the deck.”
Selwood’s tribunal role follows a case in round 19 when North Melbourne’s Scott Thompson gave evidence he took a rib injury into the game against Geelong.
The evidence helped Geelong’s Steve Johnson beat a kneeing charge.