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Living on past Glories

by Ashley Morrison on Sep 07, 2011

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With just under a month to go until the start of the new A-League season, the excitement in Perth is sadly underwhelming.

Perth Glory may have recruited what looks like a strong team on paper, but unless you go in search of any information you would not even know that the city still had a top-level football team.

The club that was once the standard bearer for Australian football has slipped off the sporting radar.

The hard core fans may visit the club’s website to try and gather information or engage on Facebook and Twitter, but apart from these avenues there is little or no information coming out of the club. The lack of a training schedule to the media or even where pre-season games are being held and against whom has ensured that very little media coverage has been gained to create an excitement amongst fans.

A good start is going to be crucial to try and draw supporters through the gates in the opening rounds, as many are already feeling a strong disconnect with the club.

Fans were only able to see the team take on the Dubai-based Al Ahli who were having a camp in Perth because the game’s governing body, Football West, arranged for NIB stadium to be open to the public, otherwise it would have been played behind closed doors. As grateful as fans were, one has to ask why Football West is assisting a private enterprise in such a way.

The club is trying to build its marketing around its 15th birthday, but again it appears to be misguided with many fans critical of the dourness of the commercial created; feeling that it lacks the excitement that used to encapsulate a trip to NIB Stadium to watch Perth Glory.

Others note that all of the footage is from the club’s heyday in the NSL and there is not one piece of footage from the A-League despite the new recruits and Jacob Burns featuring heavily in the commercial. This again fails to connect with the fans who have come on board since the dawn of the ‘new’ national competition.

It is a great shame that such a proud club, a club that had so much tradition and a passionate fan base has become no more than a minor player on the sporting landscape in Perth. Where did it all go wrong?

Ask any football fan in Perth and they will give you an opinion. Ask many of them if they will be regular attendees at games this season and the response is far from positive.

This writer asked some children (ages 11-13) playing for one of the local clubs if they could name the new signings that the Glory had made this season. Amongst a group of 15, they could only name Shane Smeltz. Jacob Burns cracked a mention as did Scott Neville, and believe it or not most thought that Tando Velaphi was still the team goalkeeper.

This confirmed that the club has lost direction. It no longer has the attention or the interest of the young players in the state and without their interest it will always be restricted in terms of the fans it attracts.

The 15th anniversary is meant to be about celebrating all that is good about the game and the club, but at the moment it feels more like a wake. That feeling is made all the more stronger by the many people who are so saddened at the club’s rapid demise. On the sporting landscape in Perth the club has become an also ran, with the Western Force, Perth Wildcats and West Coast Fever – that’s a netball team FYI — having a higher place in the sporting public’s consciousness.

Let us hope that the players can deliver on the park so that they become a team that no one can ignore in 2011/12. The players are there, they just have to perform.