Any sporting competition should always come down to merit. That is the whole essence of competition. The best claim the spoils.
If you want to participate in a sport where results are irrelevant then you may as well simply arrange a kick-about at a park. There is no need to have qualified officials, numbers per side, restrictions on substitutes and other rules and regulations that ensure a level playing field in an organised competition.
The reason most people compete is to test their abilities against others. The goal being to play at as a high a standard as you can. Everyone starts a season or a competition with the goal and hope of winning it, many know that success is unlikely as there are better teams and better athletes taking part, but there is always hope. Stephen Bradbury proved with his unlikely gold medal at the Winter Olympics in 2002, you never know what may happen once the competition starts.
The NPL in Western Australia is coming to an end 2015. Bayswater City have won the league again, and congratulations to them, they are worthy Champions. Sadly with no finals – the majority of clubs in the NPL voting against them – the season is all but over. It is just a case of rearranging the final order on the League table.
(Some may be surprised that this writer is advocating finals. The truth is I have never been against finals, just against the winner of the finals being called the Champion. To win a league title is extremely hard to do, whereas to win a couple of games at the end of the season is a lot easier, hence I strongly believe the team at the top of the ladder is, and always will be, the Champion).
What is possibly more upsetting for those teams who applied for admission to the NPL and were not selected is that there is still no promotion to this elite competition, or relegation from it.
With Perth Glory sitting bottom, that was never likely to happen, although in truth some may say that Perth Glory’s youngsters would benefit from playing a division below the NPL.
The side has been in the league now for two seasons. Last year they played 22 won 4 and drew 3 games. In 2015 they have played 19 won only 2 and drawn 3 again. Do they honestly deserve to be playing at this level based on those results?
The hard thing for the coaching staff is to try and keep players motivated and focussed. It is fair to say that results have been much better this season, rarely has the team been thrashed, but sport is about winning. There are those who will argue that this is about development of the players, but part of development is learning how to win. How to hold out against better teams.
The truth is no one likes losing week in and week out and as we saw with the NTC sides some players became sick of it and while still in their teens did not want to play football any more. They no longer enjoyed the game, and these were players tipped to possibly have successful playing careers.
One way of helping the Perth Glory side develop would have been to allow the likes of Steve Mc Garry and Jacob Burns who have only just finished playing in the A-League and are still employed by the club, play alongside these youngsters. Having that experience alongside them on the park would have been a massive boost to the team and was bound to help their development even more.
The problem is are there always going to be players of this ilk employed by Perth Glory who can play in the side? Maybe if the club was serious about development they could look to offer other players heading into retirement a golden handshake and a place in this side?
One feels if the club was serious about the long term development of players this option would be explored, or something similar. It does not help Perth Glory having a side in the NPL finishing bottom. In fact it will simply build more animosity and resentment towards the club, as they have maintained their place in the NPL not on merit. The rules must be the same for all in terms of promotion and relegation when it eventually comes in and is not at the whim of Football West.
If Perth Glory played in Division One of the State League would they fare any better? Some will tell you that the standard of the top sides in this league is now better than at least half the NPL sides. So again it would be a tough environment to play. The pressure would not be so great, as they are not playing in the top flight where everyone expects them to perform better than they have.
If the team is to evolve, one season with a group of players should see them in the top half of the table, a second season should see them challenging for promotion. That has to be better than struggling at the bottom of the table and losing most weeks.
Whether traditionalists like it or not Perth Glory are here to stay in the State Competition. Whether they should stay in the NPL is something that needs to seriously be looked at for the credibility of the competition and also the welfare of the players. It does not do anyone any good to have them sitting bottom of the ladder year in year out, the players, the club or the competition.