Take a bow Perth. It was fantastic to see a packed stadium last night for the Socceroos first game in Perth in over ten years, and only their fourth game in 40 years.
Credit to the groundsman at NIB stadium as the pitch looked absolutely superb. Many from the Eastern states commented on how it was the best looking surface they had seen for ages. Even that iy resembled Wembley.
What made it all the more special was watching the national team play in a purpose built rectangular stadium. That is what how watching football is supposed to be.
It was a one-sided affair, as was to be expected, but the key thing is the Socceroos achieved a victory and did not concede any goals. In fact they scored their most goals ever in Perth. The first game back in 1975 was a 0-0 draw with Russia, the second saw them lose 0-1 to Ghana and then in 2005 the won 3-0 against Indonesia.
There were teething problems hosting such an event. One was the traffic issues that arose having a midweek game with a 7pm kick off. Many finding parking hard to find and traffic movement incredibly slow due to people leaving work at the same time as fans were trying to get to NIB Stadium. Having not had a game in Perth for ten years it was probably no surprise that this was an unforeseen problem, but hopefully if Perth is blessed with another game sooner than the regular ten year period, everyone will be prepared for this and make alternative plans so people can get to the ground in plenty of time.
Finally, to what was one of the biggest disappointments on a wonderful evening. This was the first competitive international match played in Perth by the Socceroos, yet there was no match day program to commemorate the event.
Once again to die hard fans in Western Australia, to not have produced a program was an insult. It meant that fans could not recognise certain players, as they had no reference to squad numbers. Many fans were attending a game for the first time, so it was even more important to have a team sheet for them.
The FFA again has shown their lack of understanding the football culture. Football fans collect programs and it is a part of the whole match day experience. With this being the first competitive match played in Perth by the national team, as opposed to a ‘friendly,’ and a World Cup Qualifier to boot, many would see this as a collectable program. It was a moment in history for Western Australian football.
Programs are a time-capsule to which sports historians can refer in future years. This game now will have very little to record that it actually happened except for a faded ticket stub or a newspaper cutting.
When questioned as to why there was no program, a representative of the FFA stated that it was to save money.
If the FFA did not want to produce the program, then outsource it to someone. We would have been happy to compile a program to record the event and give fans visiting a game for the first time an insight into the importance of the game, the history of the Socceroos in WA, and importantly the squad numbers of those taking part.
It was a shame that this oversight, or fiscal decision is one being talked about on what was a wonderful night for Western Australian football.