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The complete history of the Mighty Magpies

Frank Kelly

Frank Kelly

1930-1931, 1933
17
Other Guernsey Nos.
14

34 CFC Games Played

8 CFC Goals

Date of Birth
23 December 1910
Date of Death
6 July 1982
Recruited From
Collingwood Juniors
Collingwood Debut
Round 6, 1930
Height:
170cm
Weight:
71kg

Biography

Frank Kelly’s story is the classic sporting tale of the flawed genius who could have been anything. In a different era, or with a different temperament, he was a player who might just have been a champion.

He was born in Richmond but brought up in Abbotsford (where he lived a few doors down from the girl who would eventually become his wife) and was a talented boy soprano. One day he was spotted playing footy with mates in a park and was invited to play with Collingwood seconds.

After his senior debut in 1930 at the age of 20, Collingwood thought they had unearthed a star in the tough, speedy wingman. “His first play was like that of a champion winger”, wrote the Sporting Globe, “and compliments were showered on him in the dressing room.” Later in the season the newspaper said: “He is a coming star … Collingwood seems to have acquired a wingman of real skill. Kelly’s pace, marking and general tricky play led his opponents a merry dance.”

Kelly managed 12 games in that debut season, including a final, but missed out on selection in the historic Grand Final that gave the Pies their fourth flag in a row. After seven more games in his second season, Kelly took a position as coach of Beechworth. He returned in 1933, played 15 games and won the Austral Cup as the most popular player, but then left again, this time for Melbourne when more money was offered. He subsequently spent time with St Kilda (briefly as captain) and Essendon, eventually totalling 116 VFL games in a career that spanned four clubs and 15 years.

Frank Kelly was one of the most colourful characters of his era. He loved sport, loved a beer (at one point he managed to combine two of his great passions by playing footy for a brewery team on Saturday mornings), loved a punt and trained greyhounds. But he could be volatile and headstrong, and had a way of polarising opinion. He loved footy and was still playing well into his 40s, by which time he’d moved to the Latrobe Valley. Then he took up umpiring, and is still remembered in those parts as a legend for his umpiring exploits – most famously the day he forgot his role and marked a player’s kick – and for regularly having a beer at half-time.

In between some of his VFL stints he coached Port Melbourne to a flag in 1940, winning praise for his strong, ruthless and astute leadership. In the book Game For Anything, Tommy Lahiff recalled that Kelly was “a great bloke who’d do anything for you, but he used to get into trouble. He was one of those blokes who either had the lot or he had nothing.” On the eve of the 1941 finals, Kelly rocked the club by asking for an immediate pay rise. They refused and Kelly was sensationally forced to resign. The club went on to win the flag anyway.

Brilliant, enigmatic, frustrating, a personality. Frank Kelly was all of those. But he could sure play football.

This profile was published in ‘The Machine’ by Michael Roberts.

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Statistics

CFC Career Stats

Season played Games Goals Finals Win %
1930-1931, 1933 34 8 1 67%

CFC Season by Season Stats

Season GP GL B K H T D Guernsey No.
1930 12 0 0 0 17

1930 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 6 North Melbourne W 0 17 View match >
Round 7 Melbourne W 0 17 View match >
Round 8 St Kilda W 0 17 View match >
Round 9 Western Bulldogs W 0 17 View match >
Round 10 Carlton L 0 17 View match >
Round 11 Essendon W 0 17 View match >
Round 12 Fitzroy W 0 0 0 17 View match >
Round 13 North Melbourne W 0 17 View match >
Round 14 Melbourne W 0 17 View match >
Round 15 St Kilda W 0 17 View match >
Round 18 Essendon W 0 17 View match >
Preliminary Final Geelong L 0 17 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
1931 7 4 0 17

1931 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 5 Carlton L 0 17 View match >
Round 8 North Melbourne W 3 0 17 View match >
Round 9 Western Bulldogs W 1 0 17 View match >
Round 10 Essendon L 0 17 View match >
Round 11 Fitzroy W 0 17 View match >
Round 12 Geelong L 0 17 View match >
Round 14 Sydney W 0 17 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
1933 15 4 0 0 14

1933 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 1 Geelong W 0 0 0 14 View match >
Round 2 Fitzroy L 0 14 View match >
Round 3 Sydney W 0 14 View match >
Round 4 Richmond L 0 14 View match >
Round 5 Carlton W 0 0 0 14 View match >
Round 6 North Melbourne L 0 14 View match >
Round 7 Melbourne W 2 0 0 14 View match >
Round 9 Western Bulldogs L 0 14 View match >
Round 11 Essendon W 0 0 0 14 View match >
Round 12 Geelong L 0 14 View match >
Round 13 Fitzroy L 0 14 View match >
Round 15 Richmond W 0 14 View match >
Round 16 Carlton W 1 0 0 14 View match >
Round 17 North Melbourne W 1 0 0 14 View match >
Round 18 Melbourne W 0 14 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
Totals 34 8 0
Avg/Game   0.24 0.00
Legend
  • GPGames Played
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • TTackles
  • DDisposals

Key Facts

CFC Debut Number

332

Total AFL Games
116
Total AFL Goals
44
CFC Debut
Round 6, 1930
CFC Last Game
Round 18, 1933
Recruited From
Collingwood Juniors
Full Name
Frank James Kelly

Awards

  • Austral Cup
    1933
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