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What's in a name?

by Ashley Morrison on Jun 09, 2011

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In my opinion apart from some very poor signings over the past six years the biggest mistake that Perth Glory made was keeping the name and carrying it over from the old NSL to the Hyundai A-League. For the past six seasons they have been paying the price for that decision and will unfortunately continue to do so until they win a title.

As the NSL was being delivered the last rites, Perth Glory were one of the few clubs not in need of life support. They were the new kids on the block with plenty of life in them.

Initially they rode in on the back of a footballing public starved of football higher than the state league competition. Then they evolved into a well managed and well run club with Roger Lefort as Chief Executive Officer and Jeff Dennis and Justin Everley in the marketing department. In those days the clubs were responsible for their own marketing and could put on their own pre-match entertainment. This is no longer the case, with the FFA having a controlling interest; one would have to say that their methods have assisted in hurting a club renowned for it’s off field promotion.

Bernd Stange arrived as coach and at the same time money was made available to make Perth Glory the best club in the land. The best players queued up to come to Perth, and many wore the famed purple, Con Boutsianis, Damian Mori and John Markovski to name a few.

Then Stange split the club in two. Having been employed on a two year deal to raise the profile of the club so that co-owner Nick Tana could sell his shares to David Rodwell, he was supposed to leave once his contract expired. Rodwell would be the major shareholder and Mich D’Avray would take over as head coach. Stange decided not to go, and used the power of public opinion to obtain a contract extension. Co-Owner Paul Afkos backed Stange as did Lefort, and the club became factionalized. This fictionalization also went further with some fans backing the Afkos view that Stange was the man to lead the club into the future, and vowing to never support the club after that day.

D’Avray did eventually take over, and Perth Glory did win the league, but one with no salary cap, where they bought most of the best players, and a league in which only four teams realistically stood a chance of winning the title, South Melbourne, Parramatta Power and Sydney Olympic.

The A-League was born, and along with it came the salary cap, which prevented Perth Glory attracting the cream of the country’s footballers, as they now could get good salaries in their home towns. The salary cap meant that often the Glory could only sign those players who could not get a club on the east coast.

The Perth Glory was the only team to take into the new competition a history, by keeping its old NSL name. (Adelaide United existing for one season at the end of the NSL, and carried with it no history). With that name came expectation, based on previous successes, based on the calibre of players the fans were used to seeing. Also came some negativity from some of the public that lingered from the Stange fall out. No other club had that baggage.

Nick Tana, erred when he appointed Englishman Steve McMahon as coach, but the fodder that he had to work with that first season was well below the standard Perth fans were used to seeing wearing their colours.

The club has now witnessed five coaches in six seasons. In three seasons the club went from being owned by Nick Tana, to being owned by the FFA – who did not use the full quota of the salary cap on players, and it showed – to being owned by three men, which in another season came down to one, Tony Sage. The result of all these changes is a very unstable club with no clear long term direction on or off the pitch.

It appeared that Dave Mitchell as coach and Tony Sage as owner, were building a club that could once again can see Perth Glory compete with the other clubs around the country. But when Mitchell moved upstairs it was back to ground zero.

Ian Ferguson now has the reins, and again the club is a work in progress, and a little patience is required. However a failure to make the finals this season will be unacceptable, when you look at the players on the clubs books.

Finals football is a must this season. If they fail to make the finals those loyal fans that have remained may finally lose their patience. The damage done to the club could be irreparable. If they do make the finals anything is possible, and memories of past Glory’s may come flooding back.

The name however continues to carry with it great expectation, and one has to wonder whether it was wise to let the club keep the name as it entered a new era in Australian football. It has weighed the club down over the past four years and could end up suffocating it, as no other club suffers the comparisons to former years as does Perth Glory, from fans and media alike.