In Glory We Trust

by Sebastian Hassett on Aug 19, 2011

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I've got an annual fixation with Perth Glory. There, I said it. Each year I wait and hope - almost as nervously as some members of The Shed - that this will be the year Perth turns it around.

It goes without saying that I and those with purple scarves remain frustrated, to the point of being dismayed. It is just plain sad to see this great club not setting the pace, especially after last season, where so many of us predicted they would shine only to fall back into the same old heap we've come to know too well.

In short, without the Glory, there is no A-League. They proved that football in this country could go beyond the boundaries that others defined. No longer did clubs have to be aligned to an ethnicity to succeed; they were capable, as the marketing types would put it, of mainstream 'cut through'.

For that very reason, we all owe a major debt of gratitude. To former owner Nick Tana. To ex-coach Bernd Stange. To the wonder boy, Damian Mori, and his brilliant strike partner Bobby Despotovski. And names like Gareth Naven, Jamie Harnwell, Jason Petkovic, Scott Miller and Con Boutsianis - those players who made the Glory fashionable, either through fight or flair, and sometimes both. They showed it was possible and gave us hope to make the jump from the NSL to the A-League.

However, ever since that final match of the National Soccer League - a forgettable, rain-soaked grand final at Parramatta Stadium against the unloved Parramatta Power - the Glory have stalled. Perhaps that's generous: try going backwards at a rate of knots.

For such a proud football city, I wonder how much longer the status quo can continue. Only once in six years have they made the finals. Once in six years! For a club which once considered grand final defeats a disaster, it's an extraordinary fall from grace.

The current predicament of the club is an interesting one. Off the field, the club is in steady hands with Tony Sage, the mining magnate who lives the high life and loves his football team. It's well worth keeping Sage on side - he is one of the league best owners. But as we saw with Tana, patience can only last so long, and goodwill cannot go on forever without some sort of return.

So where to from here for the Glory, and what of their prospects for the season ahead? I'm really happy with some of their new signings; enough to say they should challenge strongly for the finals. There is a beacon of hope.

Shane Smeltz is a fantastic acquisition who provides a cutting edge around goals. Liam Miller is a class act who should be able to impart real influence at this level. Danny Vukovic is an excellent goalkeeper. More needs to come from Mile Sterjovski and Jacob Burns this season - even if the latter was voted their best player last season - but I haven't given up on either of them.

There's a bit of the unknown there in Andrezinho, but his pedigree looks decent. Chris Coyne is finally back and settled, and in the form of Travis Dodd, they have another leader. Dodd's effectiveness all comes down to his fitness, and how he links up with Scott Neville, potentially an excellent right-back.

All the ingredients are there for the Glory, yet we said that 12 months ago. They need to fire early, or coach Ian Ferguson could be the first man to get the chop.

It's a big year out west - they always are. But the fans are hungry for something, and their owner will want something for his investment, too.