Career : 1907 - 1909
Debut : Round 9, 1907 vs Geelong, aged 24 years, 97 days
Carlton Player No. 213
Games : 43
Goals : 75
Last Game : Grand Final, 1909 vs South Melbourne, aged 26 years, 192 days
Height : 183 cm (6 ft. 0 in.)
Weight : 82.5 kg (13 stone, 0 lbs.)
DOB : March 24, 1883
Premiership Player 1907, 1908
One of three brothers who all played in the VFL, William Harvey “Duff’ Kelly was a brilliant, nomadic footballer who roamed far and wide to star in Premiership teams on both sides of the continent in the first decade of the 20th century. During an all too brief stay at Princes Park from 1907 to 1909, he was a member of three successive Carlton Grand Final teams, and won two flags.
Kelly was born in St Kilda in 1883, and began his VFL career with South Melbourne in 1902. Standing 183 cm and weighing in at 83 kg, he had strength, agility and excellent judgement - however the strong point of his game was his prodigious kicking. On the run, he favoured the drop kick, but when taking a set shot for goal he preferred the rugby-style place kick. This made him ideally suited to a key forward role, but he was also a highly-capable follower.
After playing just one season with South Melbourne, Kelly travelled to Western Australia in 1903 and joined East Fremantle, where he settled into centre half-forward and was a star in their 1904 Premiership team. The following year, he defected from Old Easts in favour of their bitter rivals, South Fremantle, where he played alongside his brothers Ernie (who would later join Harvey at Carlton) and Otto (with whom he had played at South Melbourne in 1902). In 1905 and 1906 - his second and third seasons with the Bulldogs, Kelly was the WAFA’s top goal-kicker, with 50 and 35 goals respectively.
After four years in the west, Kelly returned to Victoria with the nickname “Duff” (the origin of which is a mystery) and a big reputation. He was 24 years old and at his peak when Carlton’s canny coach Jack Worrall swooped, and Kelly became a vital addition to the reigning VFL Premier team. With Harvey at centre half-forward, the Navy Blues won their second successive Premiership in 1907 with a hard-fought Grand Final victory over South Melbourne.
In 1908, Kelly put the stamp on his ability when he was selected in Victoria's team for the first-ever national football carnival, in which the Vics wound up undefeated champions. Also during that year, he featured in a memorable moment in a match against his old team South Melbourne at the Lake Oval. In the dying seconds of the match, with Carlton trailing by four points, the ball spilled off a pack to Kelly, who was hard up on the boundary at least 50 metres from goal. He unleashed a mighty drop kick - the best of his career, he said later - and the ball sailed straight through between the posts to win the game.
The dominant Navy Blues won another flag in 1908, in a dour Grand Final that was ruined as a spectacle by a howling cross-wind and the negative tactics of their Essendon opponents. Only eight goals were kicked in the entire match, and Essendon’s final score of 3.8 (26) remains the equal lowest score ever kicked against Carlton in a finals match. But of course, all that didn’t matter one bit on that historic Saturday afternoon, because the Mighty Blues had just set the extraordinary precedent of winning three Premierships in a row.
Kelly’s third – and Carlton’s fourth – successive Grand Final in 1909 almost culminated in another flag. Instead it was South Melbourne that claimed the ultimate prize; toppling Carlton from their pedestal at last with a 2-point victory in a fast, open, enthralling contest. Shortly afterwards (and no doubt, to Carlton’s dismay) Harvey bid farewell to Princes Park and headed across Bass Strait to play with another club known as the Blues; the powerful Hobart-based Lefroy.
Still on top of his game, Kelly was selected in the Tasmanian state team for the 1911 Adelaide Carnival, where the plucky Apple Islanders pulled off a major upset by defeating Western Australia to finish third overall. Then in 1912, he returned to the mainland with the intention of finishing his career with his original club South Melbourne – but Carlton refused to clear him. So he headed bush, joined Bairnsdale in the Gippsland Football League – and played in yet another flag side.
Carlton eventually relented on their stand, and in 1913, at the age of 30, Kelly went back to the Lake Oval for two more valuable seasons. Ironically, his last game was the 1914 Grand Final between South Melbourne and Carlton – another great contest won by the Blues in a grandstand finish, with Harvey Kelly outstanding for the losers at centre half-back.
At the present time Harvey Kelly is more immediately concerned with regard to the theft of the gold medal presented to him by the Carlton Football Club, which is anxious to retain his services for the coming season. The residence of Miss M. Kelly, of York-street South Melbourne, was broken into last night, and the medal and clothing valued at £15, were stolen. The thief had entered the house through a window.
(Riverine Herald Echuca 14 April 1913 p2)
"Another one-time champion in Harvey Kelly, of Carlton and South fame, also passed away at Croydon a few days ago."
Harvey Kelly died after a short illness on July 30 he was 61 years old.
The funeral for William Harvey Kelly left his residence "Rhytina", Croydon Road Croydon for the Kew Cemetery on Tuesday August 01.
Summary of playing statistics for Harvey Kelly | Kelly's Blueseum Image Gallery