What is the best way to describe Western Australians? Parochial, is a word that frequently comes up, and what can you expect when you live in the most isolated city in the world?
Yet if Western Australia is so parochial why is it that last night’s defeat of Perth Glory by Victorian NPL side Heidelberg United, in the FFA Cup round of 32 created more headlines than same team’s defeat two weeks ago at the hands of Western Australian NPL side Inglewood United?
To be fair to all A-League sides they are on a hiding to nothing when they play in the FFA Cup. They are expected to defeat all of the semi-professional sides purely because they are full-time athletes. Yet the Round of 32 comes at a time when most A-League clubs have just started pre-season training, a time when most coaches are concentrating on building fitness levels rather than concentrating on playing structures and combinations.
Their opponents on the other hand are all well into their league season and in fact are on the homeward stretch. So one would expect them to be well organised, fit and up for the opportunity to humiliate a professional team.
The same arguments could be made when a State team defeats an A-League side in a pre-season game, especially one in which the coach changes virtually the whole team at half time. However as the old cliche goes, you can only beat the team you are playing against. Australia will always take pride in their 3-1 over England at Upton Park in 2003, even though Sven Goran Eriksson changed virtually the whole England line-up at half time, and why shouldn’t they?
Yet as well as Heidelberg United played to attract headlines such as “Heidelberg United claim huge upset by knocking out Perth Glory,” (Sydney Morning Herald) or “Heidelberg United causes FFA Cup boilover with 1-0 victory over Perth Glory,” (Herald Sun) Inglewood United, in this writer’s opinion played far better than their Victorian counterparts; Am I being Parochial? Yet despite the manner of Inglewood United’s victory over their A-League opponents it caused little more than a ripple in terms of news. Let us remember that Inglewood United are not even in the round of 32 in the FFA Cup. Inglewood were defeated in Round Four, and the round of 32 is Round Eight of the FFA Cup. So this should in theory have been a bigger upset, or should it?
Heidelberg United sit top of the the Victorian NPL, but so too do Inglewood in the NPL in Western Australia. In fact their seasons are very similar, apart from Inglewood not making it this far in the FFA Cup.
Inglewood have won 13 of their 22 games while Heidelberg have won 15 of their 23 games. Inglewood have drawn six games and lost three, while Heidelberg have drawn three and lost five. Inglewood have scored 62 and conceded 29, Heidelberg United have scored 43 but only conceded 18.
There are already many debating the gap between the A-League and the various NPL competitions around the country. There are plenty who question the standard of the NPL compared to years gone by, and these debates will continue to rage.
However the one thing that does appear to be clear is the top sides in each state, twenty games into their season, are always going to give an A-League side in pre-season a tough night at the office. The coaching staff will be well aware of that, and will try and raise their team for such a game, but it appears that some of the players underestimate the challenge.
Should Inglewood have received more credit for their win? After all second-placed NPL-WA side Perth lost to the A-League side a week later.
Maybe because Perth Glory is the flagship team in Western Australia, as much as the players and the local clubs love to beat the A-League side, they do not boast of such a feat, as they feel it could harm the expectations of Glory’s loyal band of followers. They know how a successful Perth Glory benefits the game as a whole. Yet had Inglewood’s victory, and the manner of it received more coverage, then the loss last night may not have been as shocking to so many.