VFL: Williamstown CEO goes back to grassroots

Jason Reddick is making an impact at Williamstown Football Club after only three months as chief executive.

Reddick moved into the Seagulls’ nest in January after working at AFL club Carlton for 20 years, most notably as its chief financial officer and as acting chief executive.

The 46-year-old has seen it all in his time at the Blues, the highest of highs to the lowest of lows, both on field and in the boardroom.

This experience should stand him in good stead in the top job at Williamstown.

“I’ve seen premierships and I’ve seen wooden spoons. The gambit of experience at Carlton has been valuable,” Reddick told Star Weekly.

Reddick has learned the caper off some of football’s biggest movers and shakers, working closely with Stephen Gough, Ian Collins, John Elliott, Graeme Smorgon, Greg Swann and Stephen Kernahan – a who’s who of Carlton in the AFL era.

He was mentored by Peter Jackson, chief executive at Melbourne Football Club, and James Sutherland, who heads Cricket Australia.

The Oak Park resident saw the vacancy at Williamstown as the perfect fit.

“It’s a unique club – it’s a destination place, you don’t drive through it, you come to it … it’s a massive opportunity.”

Reddick has joined Williamstown during an interesting period in its history. The Seagulls are a year removed from an alignment with the Western Bulldogs and stand alone once more.

He can shape the future of the club but knows he must be mindful of the grand old club’s traditions.

“The history of the club is gold to me but we’ve got to make it relevant to the next generation,” he said.

Reddick is big on community and wants to make Williamstown the team for all Hobsons Bay residents. He is defensive of the Seagulls’ patch and does not want to see neighbouring clubs encroaching. But he is no hypocrite, vowing not to step on the toes of other clubs in their municipalities.

“This is our zone,” he said.

“We’ve got to own our own backyard. We’ll run our programs in these suburbs and communities. We’re not interested in a scattergun approach.”

Reddick wants to drive a stronger connection between the Seagulls and its members and partners. Gone are the days of scattering free memberships across the west and hoping people will come. The database to communicate with supporters is Reddick’s top asset.

Club membership has already tripled from last season and social media engagement is at record highs. There is a bigger emphasis on Sunday matches, so locals can start getting back to playing, or watching, VFL footy at Burbank Oval, like the good old days.

“We’ve got six Sunday home games this season,” Reddick said. “We’re taking it back to the old VFA timeslot. We saw the timeslot as ideal and it’s something I want to continue to push.”

Once the Seagulls bolster numbers inside the ground, they want the people to keep coming back. Reddick is hellbent on improving the match day experience for fans. A new kids’ zone will be created at home games and past players will be more actively involved on match days.

Reddick believes the Seagulls are an important part of Football Williamstown’s ‘cradle to grave’ program that puts local footballers in the blue and gold from the start of their careers to the end, beginning at Williamstown Auskick, then progressing to Williamstown Juniors, Williamstown CYMS, Williamstown VFL, Williamstown FIDA and Superrules.

The Seagulls now top the VFL ladder after two rounds, after a 58-point triumph over Sandringham in the home opener.

They travel to North Ballarat on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Footscray prevailed by 24 points over Casey Scorpions at the Whitten Oval on Saturday.

The reigning premiers will face Collingwood at Victoria Park on Saturday.