After stamping himself as one of the elite players in the competition during a one-year hit-and-run mission in 2013, Dean Kelly is preparing for a return to the Central Highlands Football League.
Kelly played a huge part in Waubra’s campaign that season – helping the Roos reach a preliminary final – but he will be wearing different colours in 2019.
The onballer/forward has signed with reigning premiers Beaufort, where he renews a connection with coach Rohan Brown and his assistant Nick Sullivan.
Brown and Sullivan were at Waubra when Kelly spent the 2013 season with the Roos.
In that campaign, Kelly played 18 matches and booted 43 goals.
His efforts saw him finish equal second behind Sullivan in the league’s best and fairest count. He also represented the Central Highlands competition at interleague level and shone in his appearance for Victoria Country 2 in a win over the VAFA’s Section B-Division 4 squad.
Kelly’s 2013 season ended on a sour note, however. He was badly injured in the preliminary final defeat to Buninyong and required plastic surgery to repair tendons after a compound fracture to a little finger.
Brown said Kelly was an exciting recruit for the club.
“He lives in Richmond next to where the (Melbourne-based) boys train and it’s just a good fit for him,” Brown, who is also joint coach of the CHFL interleague side this year, told The Courier.
“It was a good Christmas present for us anyway.”
Brown said it was good to land a footballer of Kelly’s experience, particularly given the departure of a couple of premiership players.
Top midfielder Daniel Venditti and dangerous forward Jack Duke are among those to have left the club. Venditti played just one campaign for the Crows and has moved to Northern league side Bundoora, while Duke has joined Avoca in the Maryborough Castlemaine District competition.
Kelly will be cleared to Beaufort from Mooroolbark, which hails from the Eastern Football League. He played 16 matches there last season for seven appearances in the team’s best.
Beaufort, which beat Buninyong in last season’s grand final to win its first senior flag since 1996, will start its title defence with a clash against Carngham-Linton on March 30.
Following that, Kelly will get a chance to take on his old club when the Crows travel to Waubra for a round two encounter.
The big grand final rematch with Buninyong has been scheduled in Beaufort on May 25.