It’s been almost three years since his shock axing as Fremantle coach, but the pain is still too raw for Mark Harvey.

Former Fremantle coach Mark Harvey has turned down an invite to attend the Dockers’ 20-year anniversary dinner, claiming he doesn’t feel comfortable returning to the AFL club just yet.

Harvey was left shattered after being axed as Dockers coach at the end of 2011 with a year remaining on his contract.

Fremantle sacked Harvey in order to parachute Ross Lyon into the head coach’s role.

Harvey said his daughter’s birthday celebrations meant he would be unable to attend Fremantle’s gala dinner this Friday night.

But it seems the lingering pain of his dismissal is the driving force keeping him away from the club.

“I just think I’ve got to keep my distance for a while,” Harvey told Perth radio station 6PR on Wednesday.

“They’re going through an interesting phase in their finals campaign, and they have been for the last couple of years.

“So I just think at this stage I should stay away.

“I speak to some of the players regularly, and that’s probably where it stands at this stage.”

When asked whether the presence of Lyon was the major stumbling block to making peace with the club, Harvey replied: “No. I just think it’s appropriate I keep my distance for a couple of years.”

Harvey also declined to be interviewed for the book detailing Fremantle’s 20-year history in the AFL.

Fremantle slipped to fourth spot following their shock loss to St Kilda a fortnight ago.

The Dockers take on Carlton at Patersons Stadium on Thursday night, before rounding out their season with games against Geelong (away), Hawthorn (home), Brisbane (away) and Port Adelaide (home).