Sharks coach circles new challenge as a family man

IF at first you don’t succeed, then try again.

Port Macquarie Sharks coach James Kelly subscribes to that theory.

And it’s just as well after wife Maddison fell pregnant in October last year following years of unsuccessful attempts.

The duo tied the knot in July 2017 and it seemed a matter of when, not if, they would start a family.

After two years of trying, Kelly admitted he started to wonder if he would ever become a dad.

But in around one month’s time, he will be. And he can’t wait.

“It’s something I’ve wanted for a while, but we nearly gave up trying,” he admitted.

“We kept getting pregnancy tests and it kept coming up negative every time so mentally it was a battle.

“We were trying and we kept getting let down.”

The COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 has meant the Kelly’s have had to prepare for parenthood in a vastly different way.

There hasn’t been a lot of face-to-face contact in the form of birthing classes so they have found themselves learning on the run.

“We are pretty raw on parenthood,” Kelly said.

“Maddie said the other day that she didn’t know how to wrap the baby yet so she’s been watching things like YouTube videos.

“We’re learning those sorts of things a little differently to everyone else.”

Disappointment has been replaced with a range of emotions including excitement and happiness, but there has been a sprinkling of apprehension about the unknown.

Group 3 rugby league originally cancelled the 2020 season in April, but will revisit the possibility of a shortened season on June 26.

Should they stick with the original decision, Kelly will have some extra time on his hands, but regardless of what happens he’s excited about what the future holds.

The 30-year-old is disappointed there will be weekend matches or training sessions twice a week to attend, but it’s not an emotion his wife shares.

“Maddie’s pretty happy about it, but in hindsight it is a good thing because I can be home straight after work,” he said.

“Bub’s due in winter so I’ll be home for those cold nights, not out training and not away on the weekends either.”

They have already indicated they will have gatherings at Fernhill Tavern or Settlers Inn when the pubs reopen.

“Maddie had her baby shower through Zoom so hopefully the Ferny will be open when the head wetting comes around,” he said.

“We’ve missed out on all those things and we can’t have visitors for six weeks after the baby is born so that’s going to be different.”


Fernhill Tavern is a proud sponsor of the Port Macquaire Sharks Rugby League Club