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James Kelly

Last played for Essendon Bombers in 2017
Games: 313     Born: December 29, 1983     Origin: Calder Cannons
Playing Height: 183cm     Playing Weight: 85kg     Position: Defender, Midfield
Last Drafted: Round 1, Pick #17 2001 National Draft by Geelong Cats
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James Kelly Biography

Sunday, 11 March 2018
James Kelly says transitioning into a coaching role for Essendon has been a natural process.

"For me I'm sure physically I could have kept playing, and mentally I had my head around going again if that was what was needed or required," Kelly said.

"But once the decision was made to finish up I think I was more ready than I thought I was, and I knew I wanted to coach.

"The transition for me has been pretty good and I've done it once before, so I've had two runs at it. I'm doing a job that I wanted to do so it makes it a lot easier."

Tuesday, 19 September 2017
Essendon assistant Guy McKenna will leave the AFL industry to join Cricket Victoria as part of a coaching restructure that will see retired player James Kelly join the Bombers' coaching team.

McKenna will join Cricket Victoria as a coaching and talent ID specialist following two seasons with Essendon under former teammate John Worsfold.

Kelly, meanwhile, will join Worsfold's team as a performance coach with a focus on development after the Bombers restructured the midfield coaching role that McKenna held.

"The duties of the midfield coach have been restructured in order to align more effectively with the distinction between the roles of our strategy coaches and our performance coaches," Bombers football manager Rob Kerr said.

"I would like to thank Guy for his service to the club, as well as bringing his football knowledge and strong work ethic to the table. He has added to the spirit and morale of the club with his enthusiastic and positive nature."

Wednesday, 16 August 2017
James Kelly announces his retirement from AFL football after more than 300 games at Geelong and Essendon.

"I feel really fortunate that I've been able to come this far in my career and play for two really great clubs, and have a lot of success at one. I'm eternally grateful I've been able to experience the highs and lows of footy and be a part of two really unique groups," Kelly said.

"I finished my career at Geelong and I was pretty worn out and tired, and I came here and the Essendon Football Club reignited my passion for the game."

James Kelly reveals details of a "devastating" conversation with coach Mark Thompson that turned around his career.

The coach's call was blunt: "'Could have traded ya ... the club could have been a better place without ya'," Kelly recalls 'Bomber' telling him.

"I was devastated, I was like 'who am I?'," Kelly told the AFL Exchange podcast.

"I was really hurt by that.

"That really hit me, and from that point on I reckon I put my beer down and went for a run, I was like 'Now is the time'.

"That was a real pivotal moment in my career."

Wednesday, 10 May 2017
On the eve of his 300th game, James Kelly recalls his horror debut against a powerful Brisbane Lions outfit.

Kelly recalls being a nervous wreck in the warm-up to the point where coach Mark Thompson needed to take him aside and calm the then 18-year-old down.

After starting on the bench, Kelly was eager to impress when he got onto the ground and lined up against Brownlow medallist Jason Akermanis.

"The ball came to me, I think it was the second quarter I went onto Akermanis, and I kicked the ball off the ground when I should've picked it up, I should've put my head over the ball," Kelly recalled.

"It went straight to (Justin) Leppitsch, who switched it straight to Akermanis (who) kicked the goal.

"You could see the yellow runner coming out. You can see him coming from a mile away.

"He was running past players and you know he was coming for you (to say) 'off you come, son'.

"I finished the day, I had three possessions and three clangers, so not an ideal start."

Tuesday, 9 May 2017
Ex-Cat James Kelly will play his 300th game as a Bomber this weekend against his old side Geelong.

"I'd be lying if I said I didn't look at the fixture at the start of the year," Kelly said.

"But in my overall plan I was always going to be due to miss a week. But it's worked out well.

"There's still a few guys who I talk to regularly there and it will be nice to be out there with them.

"Obviously if you could choose anyone to play against I would have always chosen Geelong."

Monday, 2 January 2017
James Kelly admits to being surprised to have played 20 games in 2016.

"I was expecting to break down at some stage, Iíd sort of factored that into my preparation for the year and fortunately I didnít," Kelly said.

"I felt I worked hard on it throughout the year, as well as working with 'Woosha' (coach John Worsfold) and 'Crowy' (high performance manager Justin Crow) to manage my loads really well.

"I was really thankful I got through the season the way I did."

Friday, 4 November 2016
James Kelly signs a one-year deal with Essendon as a delisted free agent to remain at the club in 2017.

"It's been a real privilege for me to be part of this footy club," Kelly said.

"I have really enjoyed my football under 'Woosha' and was always hopeful for the chance to go around again next season.

"I am really looking forward to watching the development of the younger players on our list as we strive for future success."

Wednesday, 5 October 2016
James Kelly's manager Tom Petroro says his client is moving closer towards playing into a 16th season in 2017 with Essendon.

"There's a little bit of uncertainty around the trade period and where James (Kelly) is at, but I'm reasonably confident he'll be playing next year," Petroro said.

"Do they hold onto pick one or trade it out, and by trading it out, does that mean players are coming in?

"It's a relationship industry, so if we're honest, you'll get the honesty back (from the club)."

Wednesday, 7 September 2016
James Kelly wants to play on at Essendon next year but will need to wait until the trade period to know if there is a place for him on the club's list.

But Essendon can't yet guarantee Kelly a place on its list before it enters what looks set to be a busy exchange period, with a number of trade targets in the club's wish list.

Wednesday, 31 August 2016
Essendon midfielder Zach Merrett has become the club's youngest best and fairest winner in 35 years after claiming this year's Crichton Medal.

The third-year Bomber was rewarded for his outstanding season by being the runaway winner of his first club best and fairest award with 378 votes, ahead of leading goalkicker Joe Daniher and top-up player James Kelly, who shared second place on 273 votes.

"Zach was our most consistent performer this season and is a deserving winner of the 2016 Crichton Medal," Essendon coach John Worsfold said.

"Zach played some exceptional football this season, and that was built off the back of his professionalism, living elite standards and a hunger to improve and develop with each game."

Friday, 26 August 2016
James Kelly says he is uncertain whether he will play on in 2017 but he is considering another season at AFL level.


"It's a lot more attractive than it has been previously, I guess, earlier in the year but at this stage I still don't know," Kelly said.

"I still have haven't had a proper chat with Woosha (coach John Worsfold) about it but we'll get through this week and we'll sit down and have a coffee next week and see where we are at."

Sunday, 21 August 2016
Bombers coach John Worsfold says he would be open to retaining top-up players James Kelly and Matthew Dea for the 2017 season.

"James Kelly and Matty Dea have been very strong performers all year," Worsfold said.

"Matty Dea is in a prime age bracket. There may be other clubs who have seen how well he's performed for us this year and may be looking at him.

"But we'll certainly look at that as an option without guaranteeing anything and Kelly is a bit the same."

Friday, 15 April 2016
James Kelly knows he will face some game-day nerves as he prepares to meet his old team Geelong, but says he doesn't expect a hostile reception from Cats fans.

"I feel fine about it. The build-up has been pretty normal. We're still preparing for another opposition and I'm sure I'll get nervous as the game gets closer, probably immediately at the start of the game," Kelly said.

"But after that I've played enough now to know it's another game of footy and we're still doing the same things and making the same decisions. I'll go out there and be as professional as I can."

Wednesday, 13 April 2016
Geelong coach Chris Scott says he doubts former Cats premiership players James Kelly and Mathew Stokes will be motivated to prove a point to their former club when they play in Essendon colours against Geelong at the MCG.

"We love all our players, past and present, but just not in the two hours we play them on the weekend," Scott said

"Even those guys would say we've all got bigger fish to fry than worrying about those things. It is good theatre for the supporters and we wish them well."

Saturday, 30 January 2016
Mathew Stokes says having James Kelly as a fellow top-up player at Essendon was critical in his decision to join the Bombers for their 2016 campaign.

"We've been close mates since I moved in with him 10 or 11 years ago and once I knew they were interested in me and Kel, we were both working at the AFL and in each other's offices and talking about the opportunity," Stokes said of Kelly.

"To be honest, if it wasn't for him coming here, I doubt I would have come.

"It makes it easier when you've got one or your best mates coming through the program with you."

Saturday, 23 January 2016
After being signed by Essendon as one of its top up players, James Kelly says being out of the AFL system for more than four months has freshened him up ahead of the 2016 season.

"I feel pretty good, Iíve just had the physio screening and it was all good then," Kelly said.

"I think having a few months off at the end of the season, while youíre playing, is something you donít usually get to do.

"Itís been really good for me. Iím not 'fit', but Iím fresh."

Wednesday, 20 January 2016
Essendon signs Geelong triple premiership player James Kelly as one of its top-up players for 2016.
Saturday, 5 September 2015
Geelong sends off its departing premiership trio in style with a resounding 39-point win over Adelaide at Simonds Stadium.

At the end of a tough week that saw Steve Johnson, James Kelly and Mathew Stokes told their contracts would not be renewed, the Cats came out purring, kicking five goals in the first quarter to set up the win.

They eventually ran out winners 17.17 (119) to Adelaide's 11.14 (80) and celebrated a Johnson mark and goal late in the last quarter with a group hug involving every Cat on the ground.

The mercurial Johnson finished with 2.6, Stokes had 33 disposals and a goal while Kelly had 30 disposals and nine tackles.

"It's an emotional day for those of us who really care, and there are a lot of people who are in that camp. and I thought it was a fitting celebration of three really influential people on Geelong's success," Geelong coach Chris Scott said.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015
James Kelly will play his last game for the Cats against Adelaide at Simonds Stadium on Saturday.

"I want to thank all the players that Iíve played with. Itís hard to individualise, but everyone Iíve played with has made me the player that I am, and made me a better player than I could have been anywhere else," Kelly said.

"And most of all, I thank the footy club for the opportunity to be able to do something that I love for a long period of time. (To) have success and meet people that Iíll know for the rest of my life and be friends with for the rest of my life."

Kelly has not indicated whether he will seek an opportunity to continue his career at another club.

Saturday, 13 June 2015
James Kelly is likely to be sidelined for at least three weeks in a best-case scenario after suffering a high ankle sprain in Geelong's win over Port Adelaide on Friday night.

Kelly had to be subbed out of Friday night's clash early in the first quarter after being hurt in a tackle laid by Power midfielder Ollie Wines.

"It's a high ankle sprain, I think, but as to how bad it is, we're not sure yet," Kelly said.

"If it's a good one it could be three or four (weeks), if it's a bad one it could be six or eight (weeks)."

Sunday, 3 May 2015
James Kelly is expected to be released from hospital soon after surgery to repair his ruptured testicle was deemed successful.

"It was obviously a very painful injury for James and the doctors made the decision to surgically repair the testicle last night," Geelong's general manager of football Steve Hocking said.

"All reports from the surgeon was that the operation was successful and now we will continue to monitor James over the coming days. Right now James' comfort and wellbeing is our sole focus."

Saturday, 2 May 2015
James Kelly suffers a suspected ruptured testicle after a heavy collision in the third quarter against Richmond.

The 31-year-old was subbed out and taken to hospital in an ambulance.

Monday, 9 March 2015
Joel Selwood will lead the Cats for a fourth season after the club revealed a reduced leadership group for 2015.

Harry Taylor has been named vice-captain, while Tom Hawkins and Andrew Mackie remain in the group.

In what is expected to be his last AFL season, veteran Corey Enright has returned to the group after a two-year absence.

Steve Johnson, Mathew Stokes, James Kelly and Mitch Duncan have been left out of the reduced squad.

"We look forward to working together. We've got a job to do and we're really looking forward to getting down to it," Selwood said.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015
James Kelly says he believes reducing free agency qualification to six years will encourage more players to move to battling clubs.

"A lot of guys are leaving because they want to win games and they want to have success. That's really why everyone plays," Kelly said on SEN radio.

"But if you're giving younger players more of an opportunity to be a part of growing a club, then it'll become more attractive for them.

"Then it's not just about the money, it's about being a part of a club that's on the way up rather than trying to chase the cash at a big club and win some games."

Saturday, 2 August 2014
James Kelly will play in his 250th game this week against North Melbourne.

"If I was to retire tomorrow, I'd retire happy," Kelly said.

"Having said that, I still think there's a lot of improvement in our team this year.

"Success is addictive. I want to win another premiership and there's a lot of our young guys who want to taste that success."

Tuesday, 29 July 2014
James Kelly will play in his 250th game this week.

"For a long time he probably flew under the radar. He was All Australian in 2011 for the first time, which surprised me," Geelong coach Chris Scott said.

"Now he's adding longevity to his career as well. 250 games is no easy task in today's footy, and he's proven on the field that he can play a number of positions.

"A fantastic contested player but a really good decision-maker, and a great ball-user for us in the back half as well."

Monday, 2 June 2014
James Kelly signs a new deal with the Cats to play on in 2015, taking him off the AFL's list of unrestricted free agents.
Wednesday, 15 May 2013
James Kelly is banned for two games after a high bump on Brendon Goddard.

Goddard initially claimed to the AFL Tribunal to have not been hit high before video footage appeared to contradict his evidence.

"My recollection of incident (at the time) there was no high contact. footage shows there is. Not forceful enough 2 remember 'at the time'," Goddard tweeted.

"That's not lying BTW. I didn't study the footage because I didn't want 2 question my thinking about the incident at the time of it occurring."

Wednesday, 5 September 2012
Geelong midfielder James Kelly is critical about teammate Steve Johnson's one-match suspension for a block on Sydney's Daniel Hannebery.

"I think these days it is getting harder and harder to be an AFL footballer and especially out on the ground, with so much happening and so many decisions you have got to make in such a short space of time," Kelly said.

"It's getting really, really hard to know what you can and can't do."

Thursday, 17 May 2012
On the eve of his 200th game, James Kelly says football is less exciting, but tougher, than it was when he started out.

"I think probably four or five years ago footy was a bit more exciting," Kelly said.

"Now it's very hard to get that exciting goal-kicking and all that sort of stuff.

"Having said that, it's still a really good game to play and I still really enjoy it. It's got a lot harder in my time, but it's still a great game."

Wednesday, 20 January 2010
Cameron Ling will lead Geelong's premiership defence as captain this season, with an expanded leadership group behind him.

"It's got a bit of romanticism to it - Cameron supported the Cats when he was a kid, played for St Josephs, played for the Falcons, played for our VFL team, played for our AFL team, became an All-Australian, has finished in the top-four seven times in our best-and-fairest and is a dual premiership player both in the pre-season comp and the home-and-away season," Cats chief executive Brian Cook said.

"It speaks volumes for him - not only does he meet his commitments on the field and off the field, but he displays great values."

Cameron Ling will head Geelong's leadership group that includes Gary Ablett, Jimmy Bartel, Joel Corey, Corey Enright, Joel Selwood, James Kelly and Harry Taylor. Kelly and Taylor are new additions to the group for 2010.

Thursday, 9 July 2009
Geelong's narrow loss to St Kilda takes a heavy toll with four of the Cats' premiership players to miss this week.

Matthew Scarlett, Cameron Ling, Darren Milburn and James Kelly have all been sidelined.

The loss of All-Australian defenders Scarlett and Milburn has opened the door for 19-year-old Tom Gillies to make his debut, while Ryan Gamble, David Wojcinksi and Tom Lonergan come back into the side.

Scarlett has back tightness, Ling has knee tendonitis, Milburn rolled his ankle and Kelly was left out after pulling up this week with a tight hamstring. Kelly and Scarlett are expected to return for the round 16 game against Melbourne, while the club last night said Ling's condition would be monitored over the next week.

Monday, 22 June 2009
Geelong's James Kelly says his team refuses to look ahead to the round 14 blockbuster with St Kilda just yet.

While the football world is salivating at the prospect of two unbeaten sides clashing in round 14, Kelly says the Cats are looking no further forward than next Sunday's clash against Port Adelaide.

"I know it's a bit of a cliché, but the fact is we take our footy one week at a time, and that's what works for us," Kelly said.

"Seriously, as a group we haven't even spoken about the whole St Kilda thing at all. Some of the guys may have thought about it individually, but as a group we're just focused on improving every week and building toward the finals."

Sunday, 5 April 2009
James Kelly says being thrown into the deep end of the Cats defence will help him develop as a player.
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