Few men in New Jersey soccer history ever had a busier, or more successful career than Frank Kelly.
This native-born Irishman from Dublin, who became a naturalized American citizen in May, 1960, was instrumental in the growth of amateur soccer in South Jersey, and later in the birth and development of youth soccer in the Garden State.
Frank, who lived in Woodbury but was known throughout the soccer community in America, died last Christmas after leaving his mark on the sport throughout the nation.
A 1994 inductee to the National Soccer Hall of Fame in Oneonta, N.Y., Frank was the first native-born from Republic of Ireland to receive that coveted honor.
Elected as a Life Member of the U.S. Soccer Federation by the National Council in 1996, Frank had been appointed a member of the U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame Veterans Committee by the USSF president Alan Rothenberg in March, 1996.
Frank’s career in soccer began as a youngster at O’Connell’s School in Dublin where he played rugby, tennis and Gaelic football and was a member of the Irish National Track Team.
He played four seasons (1945-48) with Bohemians FC in the League of Ireland, six years (1948-54) with Eaglesham Amateurs in Glasgow, Scotland, then came to America and played two season (1956-57) with Philadelphia’s Kensington Bluebells.
A member of the South Jersey Soccer League from 1969-73, he served that group in a variety of positions including president and trustee. In 1972 he was a founding member of the N.J. State Youth Soccer Association and a district commissioner. He was vice chairman of the NJSYSA in 1973-74.
Coach of the Woodbury SC, Frank coached various South Jersey all-star teams in regional and international matches. He was chairman of the NJSYSA from 1974-78 and was a representative to the first Youth Soccer Meeting held in New York and delegate to the first regional meeting in Philadelphia.
Employed as a Senior Buyer at Drexel University in Philadelphia, some of Frank Kelly’s greatest contributions to the growth of soccer in New Jersey came at the youth level starting in 1975 as a state representative to the USYSA’s AGM in Omaha.
National chairman of the McGuire Junior Cup (1979-80), Frank was Region 1 commissioner (1978-81) and coordinated the first regional cup competition.
He was founder of the Gloucester County Soccer League, purchasing manager for the NJSYSA and the group’s treasurer from 1986-88. Placed on the Wall of Honor at the USYSA National Headquarters in Memphis in 1985, Frank was named historian of the NJSYSA in 1988 and became charter member of it’s Hall of Fame in December, 1989.
In later years Frank was enshrined in the Gloucester County Sports Hall of Fame and the South Jersey Soccer Hall of Fame, and ultimately to the National Soccer Hall of Fame, an honor only seven other New Jersey soccer men have ever attained.