Winning has been something that has evaded Perth Glory since the birth of the Hyundai A-League; although they have made the finals of the Pre-season cup, The FFA Cup and also one Grand Final. Even the Youth League side coached by Gareth Naven fell at the final hurdle losing to the Gold Coast United in the Grand Final. So when the Perth Glory side in the NPLWA lifted the reserves trophy at the weekend it was a reason to celebrate.
Yet those celebrations were short-lived. Coach of the side Steve McGarry was being praised on the club’s Facebook page and social media on the weekend, but the celebrations were short-lived. Yesterday he was told that his services were no longer required at the club. A move that has upset many within the club’s administration, and one that few saw coming.
Steve McGarry was an inspired signing by former coach Dave Mitchell. It was the signing of the never-say-die McGarry that gave the team the boost they needed mid season to push on and make their first ever finals appearance in 2009/10. In fact so good was his form that former club Motherwell asked McGarry to return to Scotland. Instead he opted to stay with the club that had breathed new life into his career. Fast Forward to season 2011/12 and Ian Ferguson was forced, due to injuries and suspensions, to play an out of favour McGarry as well as Steve Pantelidis. These two coming into the side transformed the season and Perth Glory marched all the way to the Grand Final losing in the dying minutes to Brisbane Roar.
Off the field McGarry has shown the same attributes that saw him be a success on it. He has been hard working and never short of professional. Everyone who has had any dealings with McGarry will tell you that you could not meet a more personable guy.
It was therefore no surprise that he should make a success of his transition into coaching. His side winning the NPLWA reserves title on goal difference from Perth SC. The side winning 16 of their 22 matches, drawing two and losing four. They scored a whopping 88 goals in those 22 games and only conceded 28.
Compare this to the Perth Glory side playing in the first team competition, they finished second last and won only 5 of their 22 games. Even the under 18 side could only manage third place in their division.
With news that Perth Glory are setting up an academy of their own, it was believed by many that McGarry would be a key figure in the set up.
It should be stated here, that this Academy will not be like the academies of the top clubs in Europe, where a network of scouts keep tabs on players of all ages and at all clubs. Academies where those selected do not have to pay a cent, the club fund everything. It does seem bizarre that a professional club should be asking parents to pay for their talented child to be a part of such an academy. Surely it would not be another revenue stream? However we digress.
So why was Steve McGarry let go? No real explanation seems to have been forthcoming. The message given to the staff from the CEO simply stated that ‘we have today made the position of Community Strategic Development Officer held by Steven McGarry redundant effective immediately.’ None of the staff have been told why this has happened, whether it is a cost-saving measure or even a restructure.
Sadly redundancies happen in all jobs, but this seems a strange one to be making just as the club embarks on an Academy set-up. A coach who has achieved success, who is hard working, and liked by one and all and is the ideal man to have out and about in the community, a man who has played the game here in Australia and overseas so knows its pitfalls, who even played for his country at under 21 level.
Perth Glory who desperately need to raise their profile amongst the football community have now dispensed with the services of a man who many believe was one of their biggest assets. That is indeed very sad and regrettable.
Steve McGarry has shown his qualities as both a battler and a winner, and we wish him all the best and are sure that he will find another position in football in the very near future, where his talents and ethics are appreciated.