Seriously is anyone that surprised that the possibility of Michael Owen signing for Perth Glory looks like being a non-starter? This is just another example of Perth Glory throwing a name out there for publicity reasons or an agent who is in contact with a top player in Europe pushing a player’s name to gain media coverage and create interest.
Sadly Perth Glory always seem to be the ones happy to have their name linked to these big name players who never really look likely to sign, David Beckham, Harry Kewell and now Michael Owen.
The good news for fans is that the club has not signed them as all are well past their use by date and with the exception of Beckham have hardly played any football.
The reason for the fans lack of interest in the signing of Michael Owen the FFA would have you believe, in Mike Cockerill’s “Glory Loosen ties to the Union Jack” story on their website, is that Glory fans no longer wish to sign British players, or play in a British style. It would in truth appear that the fans of Perth Glory and the footballing public in the West have more football nous than some on the East coast; they know when a player is past his best, and splashing out millions of dollars on such a player is simply not good business, even it does get the club mentioned in papers overseas. They know that this money could be put to better use investing in local talent. The fans want to see this but the club at present appears to pay such wishes no more than lip service.
Football fans are far from stupid and this is where many involved in the running and promotion of the game in Australia seems to have miscalculated. Most can tell with the first touch a player has if he is any good. They can tell by the amount of passes a team is able to string together as they attack – inside their own half don’t count – how good the team is and how high the standard of the league is. So never underestimate a true football fan.
Mr Cockerill states in his article “For better or worse, Perth Glory have historically reflected a British football culture. It has always been their major point of difference, accurately representing their prime constituency.No city in Australia has a more British outlook than Perth, and for the past 16 years the Glory have been the flag-bearers of local football’s dominant expatriate community.”
Perth may have a lot of ex-pats from the United Kingdom, but these comments show a distinct lack of understanding when it comes to the history of the club. When Nick Tana and Paul Afkos – an Italian and a Greek – set up Perth Glory, the reason that they instigated the playing of the national anthem before games was so all migrant nationalities would feel welcome at the games, and Italians, Greeks, Serbians, Croatians, Welsh, Irish, English and Scottish stood side by side to cheer on the team. The chants may have been influences by Britain but the fans were, and still are multicultural.
The first coach was an Australian, Gary Marocchi, the second a German, Bernd Stange, the third a South African, Mich d’Avray. With the birth of the A League Nick Tana opted for a high profile name that back fired, in Steve McMahon. He was replaced by a man who may have been born in England but who played for New Zealand and who was only prevented from coaching Australia by the politics of the day Alan Vest, a man who had lived in this region for over 30 years, more than half his life!
Next came the FFA appointed Ron Smith, a man with superb credentials who had given so much to Australian football via the AIS producing the bulk of the players who qualified for the World Cup in Germany in 2006. Smith like Vest was born in England but also migrated in the 70’s. When Smith left, Dave Mitchell took over, a man many sections of the Australian media like to imply is British, yet his family emigrated here when he was six years old. He played 44 times for Australia and created many firsts for football in this country, including being the first Australian to score a goal in European competition. When he stepped down to take on a role as Director of Football he was replaced by Ian Ferguson who of all the coaches that Perth Glory has had along with MacMahon is most likely to be called British, simply because he has been in the country the least time.
So when do you become acceptable to the hierarchy in Australia as being Australian? This writer has been an Australian citizen for 21 years and has now lived in Australia longer than he did in England. He regards himself as Australian, yet because of his accent is often regarded as British, so is aware of how frustrating such accusations can be.
Perth Glory has never been a British club, it has always been a club for the people of Western Australia. The accent of the coach will never change that, and if you wandered around the ground you would still find the club is supported by a myriad of nationalities, who simply love the game of football. To call it British is simply foolhardy, just as it would be to sign Michael Owen.