James Kelly, one of Geelong’s favourite sons, will return to GMHBA Stadium as an assistant coach.

After a stellar playing career, Kelly previously served as an assistant coach at Essendon before taking a hiatus from football in 2021.

Kelly is looking forward to returning to the club that has meant so much to him. 

“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 is a club that means a lot to me, and I have 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.”

James Kelly previously worked as an assistant coach at Essendon.

Geelong’s general manager of football Simon Lloyd welcomed Kelly back to GMHBA Stadium.

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

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.

James Kelly and Cameron Mooney celebrate the 2009 premiership.

Originally selected with the 17th pick in the 2001 national draft, Kelly filled a plethora of roles in his career, a versatility that always saw the teams needs come before any personal goals. 

Kelly was also a key contributor in the local community, and was a co-founder of the Cats award winning Just Think program in 2008. 

After retiring as a player, Kelly spent three seasons as a member of Essendon’s coaching panel, and now returns to add to his already impressive legacy at Geelong.