‘Favourite son’ returns to Cats

James Kelly at training in 2014. (Tommy Ritchie)

One of Geelong Cats’ “favourite sons” James Kelly will return to Kardinia Park as an assistant coach, the club has announced.

“I’m excited to come back to the club, to a place I love, and be able to contribute as a member of the coaching staff,” Kelly said.

“It’s a club that means a lot to me and I’ve always kept my eye across what’s been happening.

“This is a great opportunity and I want to positively influence and impact the club and help us achieve success.”

A veteran of 313 AFL games, including 273 in the navy and white hoops, Kelly earned three premiership medals and an All-Australian blazer during his 16-year career.

Geelong selected Kelly at pick 17 in the 2001 national draft and the versatile midfielder-defender filled a plethora of roles during his career.

As a player Kelly put the team needs above his own, was a key contributor in the local community, and co-founded the Cats’ award-winning Just Think program in 2008, according to the club.

After retiring Kelly spent three seasons on Essendon’s coaching panel and now returns to Geelong after taking a break from football in 2021.

Geelong Cats’ football general manager Simon Lloyd welcomed Kelly back to Geelong.

“James has great football intelligence, has experience as a member of Essendon’s coaching staff and has a demonstrated ability as a strong communicator,” he said.

“James also brings a great love of the club and so brings additional passion to the role.

“We welcome James back to his football home and look forward to his insights and contribution to the club.”