Werribee Districts goes for coach with local smarts

Werribee Districts believes it has the right man at the right time leading the club with the appointment of Chris Gilham as coach for the next two seasons.

Gilham – a former junior player at the Tigers – has spent the past five seasons as a development and senior assistant coach at Werribee in the VFL. He has been a premiership coach at Werribee Centrals (GDFL) and head coach at Geelong West-St Peters in the Geelong Football League.

Tigers president Murray Smith said there were a number of things about Gilham that set him apart from other candidates.

“He really knows his footy first and foremost, and he especially knows his local talent,” Smith said. “He’s coached in the area so he knows the leagues and he knows the players in the area … more importantly, he’s a home-grown kid and has a lot of contacts in the local football field.

“He lives in Werribee, lives five minutes from the ground, so it all just made sense for us and for him.”

Gilham succeeds former AFL star Paul Chapman in the role, with Smith saying it was an amicable split.

“We were in constant dialogue with Paul over the year and at the end of the season we both decided the best thing for the club was to go our separate ways,” Smith said.

“It wasn’t that we wanted to get rid of him, far from it, but at the end of the day we haven’t got a bucket load of money down at the club and we felt we needed to redirect our funds into other areas.

“Paul said to us when we spoke that the club is always first and it’s not about me (Chapman), so he was very understanding. He’ll always be welcome at the club.”

With Deer Park claiming the past four WRFL flags, Gilham faces a big challenge in trying to get Werribee Districts a premiership. But Smith said all the club could worry about was its own backyard.

“We’ve got our wish list of players that we will keep talking to and hopefully we can sign four or five of them,” Smith said.

“We’ve retained pretty much all of our playing list from last season, but most important is that Chris knows what we need to become a better side.

“That doesn’t mean we’ll have a premiership side next year. We never recruit to win the premiership, we recruit to get better every year and then one day we might win the premiership.”