It was definitely a first for Western Australia, the question is was it a first for football in Australia? At the end of the weekend all three Perth Glory teams find themselves sitting top of their respective Hyundai A-League, W-League and Youth League tables.
Many fans of other clubs will be quick to say it is early days and let us see if their are there at the end of the season. However for Perth football fans who have been starved of anything to get excited about since the FFA took over the running of football, this is a big issue.
There is a strong feeling in the west that Football in WA is very much the black sheep of the FFA’s “Football Family.” We have in the past had a rough deal when the A-League draw has been done, frequently having to play more away games than home games. What difference does that make? In season 2009/10 when the Perth Glory made the finals for the first time and actually had a good record at home it made a big difference, as instead of a possible win at home they played an extra game away and that was the difference between hosting a finals game and travelling to Wellington Phoenix, where they lost in a penalty shoot out. One point separated them on the ladder.
We have not had the FFA subsidise any marquee players for Perth Glory. We have also been starved of any semblance of international football, be it women’s or youth, let alone the Socceroos. The FFA did claim that Iran were going to play the Socceroos in Perth at the recent fan forum, yet with NIB Stadium still not meeting AFC international standards the only option would have been Subiaco Oval, a venue they swore they would never play at again following the poor attendance at the game against Indonesia in 2005 when 13, 719 attended. One has to ask whether Iran would have pulled in many more fans at a ground dreadful for watching sport played on rectangular pitches.
The FFA were no doubt hoping that the memories of the World Cup Qualifier from 1997 would be the hook on which they could build up a rivalry, but one fears that too much time has passed for that to be the case.
The FFA may have a great chance to show the fans in Western Australia that we are indeed part of the “Football Family” this week.
Tomorrow Perth Glory take on Bentleigh Greens in a FFA Cup semi final. A game that many would expect a team top of the A-League to win, professionals against part timers, however it will not be easy. No cup game is ever easy!
If Perth Glory do win, the FFA have the chance to bring a major game to Perth for the first time ever. Why can’t the inaugural FFA Cup Final be played in Perth should the team make it through to the final?
Adelaide United and Central Coast Mariners play off in the other semi final. Both of these cities have had international football with the Central Coast hosting the Matildas and Adelaide the Socceroos in June 2011; after a wait of seven years. However they had hosted Youth International games. Perth has had nothing.
The FFA may well cry poor by stating that it will cost them to fly their VIPs across the Nullarbor to Perth, it will cost more to Fox Sports as they bring in the Outside Broadcast truck from Adelaide, but is this not a question of growing the game? A case of doing what is best for the game?
This will be a crucial decision by the FFA. They may not see it as such, but if they want the people in Western Australia to feel a part of the “Football Family” then they have to the hosting of the final in Western Australia. A snub now will do untold harm to how they and their promises are viewed by fans and all involved in the game. If ever there was an ideal time to make such a decision, it is now, with interest in all three teams at a high.
The first thing that needs to happen though is Perth Glory to win…