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The excruciating and needless wait for the Tim Kelly trade

And it is delaying any meaningful reboot of Fremantle under new coach Justin Longmuir, who was appointed last week and will be at Marvel Stadium with football operations boss Peter Bell representing the Dockers.

Fremantle stand in the background respectfully with the catcher’s mitts on to grab Kelly should he not reach his desired destination in West Coast.

And this is where the problem begins.

Kelly is a father to three young children, two on the autism spectrum, and he and his partner are desperate to return home to WA so they can access extra help for their family.

We knew this for the past 12 months since Kelly first requested a trade home at the end of last year, his first season with the Cats.

Back then, Kelly requested a trade to only the Eagles.

WAtoday understands Kelly was not keen on Fremantle last year because Harley Bennell was still at the club and the Kelly and Bennell families have a long-running feud stretching back years.

This could explain Bell’s desire upon his appointment to football boss at the end of the 2018 season to delist Bennell, who was still struggling to get on the park due to recurring calf problems but was given a one-year contract at the urging of ex-coach Ross Lyon.

With Bennell now gone, it begs the question of Kelly … why only nominate West Coast as your preferred destination?

The 25-year-old seems genuine in his motives for wanting to return home, so why pigeon-hole himself to only one of two clubs in WA?

Geelong are not playing this smart at all either. They might be seen to be talking tough by insisting Kelly is worth two top 10 draft picks, but they are fully aware it is almost impossible for the Eagles to come up with that at the trade table. Hardball talk that could soon turn ballsup.

Geelong’s list manager Stephen Well is an experienced operator and would not want one of his club’s prized assets going to a premiership rival for under value.

The sooner new Fremantle coach Justin Longmuir knows where Tim Kelly is playing in 2020, the quicker he can get on to planning his game strategy for next season.

The sooner new Fremantle coach Justin Longmuir knows where Tim Kelly is playing in 2020, the quicker he can get on to planning his game strategy for next season.Credit:Richard Wainwright

Why he hasn’t begun conversations with Fremantle is beyond belief. The Cats aren’t happy Kelly is leaving. They have every right to tell him a move back home means exactly that. No cherry picking here young man.

Fremantle has pick 7 and will likely secure pick 6 from St Kilda for Brad Hill, whose partner wants to move to Melbourne. The speedy wingman has nominated the Saints as his preferred club.

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Picks 6 and 7 will more than satisfy the Cats for Kelly. And Fremantle minus Bennell and with empathetic new coach Longmuir on board should now represent an attractive option for Kelly.

The South Fremantle product is also uncontracted, so if Geelong keeps playing “hardball” with the Kelly deal and can’t facilitate a trade with West Coast, which looks likely, or Fremantle, which could happen if the Hill trade doesn’t eventuate, then he could just nominate for the pre-season draft and be snapped up by Gold Coast, leaving the Cats with nothing for losing the electric midfielder.

The most painful thing of all is the Kelly trade will likely end up being one of the most simple and straightforward of the AFL Trade Period, yet it’s likely to be done at the death, after dominating the back pages for the next nine days when other more compelling stories are in the sports stratosphere.

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