- Written by Walter Pless
- Published: 29 August 2012
Photo: Julius Ross has moved to Melbourne to be part of the A-League world [PlessPix]
Julius Ross, the 25-year-old Tasmanian football journalist who has been writing for The Mercury and The Back Post, has taken up a position with A-League club Melbourne Heart.
He started in his new job in Melbourne on Monday and is already in the thick of the action at the club, but he took time out to talk to me about his new position.
Photo: Julius Ross in his playing days with South Hobart. He scored the goal for Tasmania's Under-21 side against Sydney FC's A-League Youth side in a match in Sydney [PlessPix]
Walter Pless: What are your university qualifications?
Julius Ross: A Bachelor of Arts in 2008, majoring in Journalism, Media and Communications and Sociology).
A Master of Journalism, Media and Communications in 2011.
WP: What is your position with Melbourne Heart and what does it entail?
JR: My position is titled Media and Communications Coordinator and it encompasses a whole range of roles, with the main focus on club communications across all departments, including online, marketing, community and fan engagement and the football department.
I will be responsible for all media enquiries and organising press conferences, writing and releasing all media information for the club and managing all communications with journalists and media, as well as writing content online. I am required to develop and maintain relationships with journalists from across the football community, including the Herald Sun’s David Davutovic, the Age's Michael Lynch, the teams from Four Four Two and Fox Sports, and all other relevant media.
WP: Are you excited about the job?
JR: Excited might be an understatement, Walter. It still hasn’t quite sunk in that I’m actually working for an A-League club, and that I will be working so closely with so many key personalities in Australian football and specifically working with some of Australia's top sports reporters. In my first day in the role, Vitor Sobral from SBS contacted me and I was on the phone to Craig Foster, while I will be meeting with John Aloisi daily when the team returns from NSW. I’ve always wanted to work in the media, and specifically football media, so I have been very lucky with the opportunities that have fallen my way in these areas.
Photo: The Back Post boys Callan Paske (left) and Julius Ross (right) with Brisbane Roar's Ivan Franjic at Launceston's Aurora Stadium last year [PlessPix]
WP: How did you obtain the position?
JR: I applied for the position online.
WP: Is this your dream job?
JR: Close! It’s an amazing opportunity for me and one that I will embrace and approach with a lot of effort and passion. As I said earlier, I have always wanted to work in football media, so this position is right up my alley. I’ve always thought that if you can’t make it as a footballer, the next best thing is to work closely with them in some capacity, although I never thought that I would be here at the age of 25 managing an A-League club’s communication strategy.
WP: Will you be able to, and do you want to, play football in Melbourne?
JR: I think John Aloisi is looking for a number 10, so I might have to make a comeback! In all seriousness, I am living with former South Hobart player Jonathan Lo at the moment and we have already thrown up the idea of joining a team considering former teammates in Bart Beecroft, Josh Heerey, Billy Gasparinatos and Jasper Kjar Cruttenden have all moved over in the past couple of years. But, given my track record with injuries, I’m unsure whether I’ll be able to roll the dice! If I played in a team with those blokes I’m not sure I’d make the first XI! We can only hope Dean Wilcock, Michael McGoldrick and Dan Brown make the move soon.
Photo: Julius Ross while covering a game at Clare Street [PlessPix]
WP: With you at Melbourne Heart, does this open up another ‘pathway’ for Tasmanian players to the A-League?
JR: I think the pathway already exists. Jeremy Walker joined Heart’s National Youth Team last year through the Tasmanian Institute of Sport National Training Centre. I believe strong ties still exist between Dean May and his NTC squad, while South Hobart have also sent several players to train with the club’s youth team when Aloisi was at the helm. But, hopefully, I can strengthen those ties and opportunities may arise for players as a result.
WP: Are you excited about the opening round of the A-League, when Heart take on Victory?
JR: Absolutely. I have an incredible amount of work to do between now and the opening weekend as the club prepares for the season. On match-day, I have quite a bit of responsibility managing the team’s media engagements, especially for Heart’s home games. This is Victory’s home fixture, so there is more emphasis on Victory’s media team to organise match-day proceedings, so I might find a few spare minutes to take in the match and enjoy the atmosphere! There is certainly a huge amount of hype around the game at the club already and it’s still over six weeks away.
Photo: Callan Paske, who partnered Julius Ross at The Back Post, is a very versatile player himself [PlessPix]
WP: Could your experience at Heart be of value to the Tasmania United Taskforce at some time in the future?
JR: Potentially. From what I understand, Football Federation Australia and the powers behind the A-League encourage licence bids to be aligned with a local federation and, at this point, the two parties have remained separate entities in Tasmania. The Taskforce has unfortunately been unable to win over the necessary support from FFA or the Tasmanian Government – to an extent. I’m sure that I will gain a greater understanding of how a club in the A-League operates. Melbourne Heart, of course, is heading into its third season and is a relatively young club, so its bid to enter the competition is quite fresh. Its first season was in 2010-11. Considering the five-year moratorium established by FFA to prevent any other Melbourne side entering the A-League until that 2010-11 season, Heart was able to engage with the Victorian community despite the fact Victory were very much entrenched in Melbourne’s sporting landscape. I think the tactics and the operations employed by the club to secure the licence would be invaluable to the Tasmanian bid.
WP: Do you have any regrets about leaving Tasmania?
JR: It’s always hard to leave friends and family, but I made a lot of excellent friends and contacts in the football community in Tasmania, none more than yourself, Walter! I learned an incredible amount from everyone in the community about football, especially at a community, grassroots and club level, working for The Mercury and The Back Post and I’m sure I wouldn’t have been as well qualified for my current position without gaining that experience and knowledge.
Photo: Julius Ross at Aurora Stadium in Launceston while covering the Melbourne Victory versus Adelaide United match last Friday [PlessPix]
WP: Will you have any contact with Tasmanian players active in Victoria?
JR: I hope so. Walker is obviously at Heart, so I will probably be in regular contact with him. I think I might have to sink my teeth into work at Heart before I get the opportunity to watch any players.
WP: Thanks so much for the interview, Julius, and I’m sure everyone involved in football in Tasmania wishes you well in what is a demanding but fulfilling position and I’m sure everyone will now be keeping a closer eye on Melbourne Heart.
Photo: Julius Ross is sharing digs in Melbourne with former South Hobart team-mate, Jonathon Lo (left), who is a doctor. Lo is shown here with his father, William Lo [PlessPix]