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Remembering Noel Kelly

17 Jun 20, 3:48PM 0 Comments

Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk

Photo by News Corp

On the 14th of June 2020, Noel Kelly would sadly pass away after suffering from a stoke on May the 16th.

He was born in Ipswich on the 22nd of January 1936 and raised in the town of Goodna.

In 1956, Kelly would make his debut in the Ipswich Rugby League competition for Railways, before switching to play for Brothers two years later.

Kelly would make both his Queensland and Australia representative debuts in 1959, first playing New South Wales in front of a record-breaking 35,261 in Brisbane and starting at hooker against New Zealand.

He’d later go on the ‘59 Kangaroo Tour with the Australian National team but only play in 14 out of the 37 matches due to injury.

The hooker then signed what was at the time a lucrative £800 contract for Ayr up in North Queensland, however, was soon startled to find out that the competition’s five clubs had all invested in his contract.

This meant Kelly had to play for a new club each week.

It was in 1961 that we finally got to see Noel Kelly play in the Sydney Rugby League competition, which of course would eventually evolve into the NRL.

Noel Kelly with the Australian Kangaroos

He would play for the Western Suburbs Magpies and was apart of the side who made the Grand Final in 1961, 1962 and 1963, unfortunately losing to the Dragons on all three occasions.

1966 would see Kelly take on captain-coach duties at the Magpies and for New South Wales who he had debuted for in 1963.

At the end of 1969, the hooker retired from the Sydney Rugby League competition, having played 111 games for the Magpies, 8 games for Queensland, 6 games for New South Wales and 25 games for Australia, which included 4 Kangaroo Tours.

The next year he’d spend a season playing for Wollongong, before retiring completely.

Between 1973 and 1976 Kelly would coach the North Sydney Bears, with the side failing to make the finals during this time.

32 years later, Kelly was named in the ARL and NRL’s Top 100 Players of the Century and later named in the Team of the Century.

His legacy will live on forever.

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