I have heard the FFA say a number of times ‘someone has to come last’ and someone has to come second last. And when there are only eight teams, 25% of fans are going to find their teams coming last or second last, and 50% are going to find their team not making its promise of finals football.
Fans love their team winning. And winning teams make more fans. Losers can please themselves. Their fans find another team or another sport.
Perth Glory were first by 6 points in 2003-2004. With a team that included Jade North, Pondeljak, Harnwell, Bingley, Despotovski, Mrdja and Mori. The year before they came second in the league but won the final. Harnwell and Mori scored the final’s goals in front of 38,111 at Subiaco. Perth hasn’t seen a football crowd as large as that since. Glory’s team had also included Colosimo, Tarka and Gumprecht. This time North and Pondeljak had been playing for the losing side Sydney Olympic. Another year back to 2001-2002, Glory were first in the league again - by 13 points - but lost the final to Olympic Sharks 1-0 in front of a Perth crowd of 42,735.They were third in 200-2001, and first in 1999-2000 - with a Perth crowd of 43,242. Perth had become Australia’s home of soccer - players were drawn west to play in a winning team.
And so it goes. Perth Glory were the superstar team up until the A-League. They were viewed as the model team for the new league. But in the reduced league size, from 13 to 8, they lost a few players and were not able to find gems in overseas players. In version one they missed the finals by two points, and this season they look like pulling up seventh. At the end of version 1 the owners handed back the franchise and the FFA has been on the verge of an announcement since. Star in the making Nick Ward was lost to Europe and retiring socceroo Stan Lazaridis signed up - but hasn’t made an impression. Former socceroo technical manager Ron Smith took over as coach and the team has looked disciplined and well behaved - picking up few yellow cards.
Well behaved and disciplined until tonight when the highlight of their 0-0 result with Adelaide was after the match when Foxtel caught Perth’s NZ international Adrian Webster (who was subbed on in the 75th) throwing right hooks at Jamie Harnwell before being pulled away by Ron Smith. Something happened before the camera arrived. But there is tomorrow’s headline - not the stuff of building for next year. As 8,226 fans watched Perth’s 2006-2007 season hope close out.