At the start of the current A-League season there was not much to be positive in the West. In fact if you ask many fans there was not a great deal to be positive about before Christmas. Since then it has been a different story.
Kenny Lowe accepted that some of his pre-season signings were not going to bring the club the desired results and did what any good manager does, looked to move them on. He also took the January transfer window as the opportunity to move on players who had been signed on extended contracts before he was appointed. He no doubt advised the players in question that come the end of the season he would not be re-signing them, and so it may be in their interests to move on. Most players are aware that come the end of the season if they have not been playing regularly, finding another club along with thousands of other players out of contract is not easy, so left for clubs who would give them game time.
Kenny, having been involved for so many years with Junior development in Western Australia, – where many regarded him as the best junior development coach in the country – always kept an eye on those players he had coached and swooped to bring some of those local boys back to Perth. That and pushing the outstanding Castro further forward, where he has formed a lethal partnership with the returning Andy Keogh, has turned the season around.
Perth Glory are currently the form team. They are almost certainly assured of a finals berth and are remarkably only five points of top placed Western Sydney Wanderers.
This confirms a comment that Kenny Lowe made earlier in the season, that any team can beat any other team. No team has pulled away from the pack, but on current form Perth Glory would be the team that all the others are watching. They may well have timed their run to perfection. Not only are they scoring goals, but their defence has been extremely miserly. The midfield one feels is still possibly their achilles.
The good news for the club is that a winning team has resulted in more fans coming through the gate, even some fans who swore they would not attend this year as long as the current owner is in charge, have found themselves back at NIB Stadium. That is the power of football and a winning team.
One area where Perth Glory has struggled for a very long time has been off the pitch, their engagement with the public on days other than a match day, but it appears that even this is back on track.
Many who remember the early days of Perth Glory will recall the orange and purple minibus that was seen around Perth promoting GloryZONE. This was a program for 6-14 year olds and from that was spawned the equally successful Jungle Soccer for 3-7 years. The two men who made this program such a success were Andy Barrett and ex Glory player Mark Lee. There were a number of other coaches who assisted them to make it the success that it was. Sadly when the A-League came around the program was shelved.
It was therefore very pleasing to hear from one fan what a superb job the Perth Glory did hosting a birthday party for his son. The father in question, who is not a Glory fan, could not speak highly of the way the Perth Glory staff organised his son’s Birthday party and had all of the children in attendance enthralled. They enjoyed themselves so much that when they broke for refreshments the children simply did not want to stop. Sadly the father in question could only remember the Glory Staffer as being named Michael, but he should take a bow.
This is really positive news for the club as this is the next generation of not only player, but also fan.
Twenty year old Jordan Lyden now at Aston Villa was a youngster who came through the GloryZONE program all those years ago, so it shows the impact programs such as this can have. The Birthday party is a one off event, but it is a foundation on which the club can build, and if, as it sounds, they have excellent and enthusiastic staff running the program they can indeed grow this junior involvement and links with the club. Certainly it is very important that the impression is that the club is giving something to the community rather that taking, which has been an accusation levelled in the past.
One thing is certain Perth Glory are finally getting things right on the pitch and in the community.