Kelly calls it quits with Cats in AFL

Geelong midfielder James Kelly has joined teammate Mathew Stokes in confirming he will play his last AFL game for the Cats this weekend.


But Steve Johnson, the biggest name in a group of Cats premiership veterans facing uncertain futures, remains tight-lipped.

Asked on Wednesday if he would be at the club next year, Johnson replied: “I’m not too sure”.

Johnson has said that regardless of his future at Geelong, he feels capable of playing again next season.

Kelly, 31, is a triple-premiership player at the club and Saturday’s clash with Adelaide will be the 273rd AFL match of his decorated career.

“The overwhelming feeling I have at the moment is I just feel really grateful, grateful for the people I’ve met, grateful for all the fun we’ve been able to have,” Kelly told the club’s website on Wednesday.

“I want to thank all the players that I’ve played with, it’s hard to individualise but everyone I’ve played with has made me the player that I am and made me a better player than I could have been anywhere else.

“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.”

Like Stokes, Kelly has only announced that he is finishing at Geelong.

Stokes announced on Tuesday that Saturday’s game will be his last for the Cats.

He is weighing up his options about trying to continue his playing career at another AFL club.

Kelly, Stokes and Johnson are in a group of six Geelong veterans who are nearing the end of their playing careers.

Geelong’s run of eight finals series in succession came to an end with their loss to Collingwood last week and the Cats must decide where Jimmy Bartel, Corey Enright, Steve Johnson and Andrew Mackie fit in their list management planning.

Coach Chris Scott paid tribute to Kelly, who will have the opportunity to farewell Cats fans when the Crows visit Simonds Stadium on Saturday.

“Kel has always been able to play a variety of roles and put the team’s needs first,” Scott told the club’s website.

“He has been a leader within the club and one of the people that younger players could look to in the professional manner that (he) went about preparing and playing the game.

“Kel will always hold a special place with his teammates, coaches, staff and supporters.”

Johnson called on Cats fans to give Kelly and Stokes a proper sendoff.

“Hopefully just show up and bring your support, be nice and loud,” he said.

“It would be great to send them out the right way.”