FOOTBALL Hall of Champions inductees Bobby Despotovski, Scott Miller and Shaun Murphy – plus coaching guru Alan Vest, who is a member of the Hall of Recognition – can be forgiven for feeling a bit nostalgic in 2014.
For it’s 10 years since they were part of the Perth Glory set-up that made history in the old National Soccer League.
The Glory beat Parramatta Power 1-0 in the NSL Grand Final at Parramatta Stadium in Sydney on April 4 2004.
It was the last NSL final decided before the competition went into hibernation for 18 months before being re-launched and re-named the A-League.
And Nik Mrdja, whose 98th-minute golden goal sealed the title for the Glory after he had come on as a substitute in the 82nd minute, was the last player to score a goal in the NSL.
Mrdja went on the following season to play for AIK Solna in Sweden but returned to Australia to sign for Central Coast Mariners. He made his sole appearance for Australia at international level against Argentina in 2007 but was dogged by a persistent knee problem that resulted in him quitting the game altogether in 2010.
The NSL began in 1977 and the Glory gained admittance in 1996, going on to win two Grand Finals – they had also scooped the crown in 2002-03, making it back-to-back triumphs the following season.
The Perth side – regarded as the trendsetters of the NSL after making a dynamic impact on their admittance – had also reached the Grand Finals in 1999-00, losing on penalties to Wollongong Wolves after a thriller, and in 2001-02, losing 1-0 to Sydney Olympic.
In the final NSL season, the Glory won the minor title by finishing on top of the league ladder with 57 points, six more than the Power.
Coach Mich d’Avray – who later returned to his native South Africa and is currently development coach with Bloemfontein Celtic – added to the Glory’s swag of titles by being named the NSL Coach of the Year, while goalkeeper Jason Petkovic was the NSL Goalkeeper of the Year.
By the season’s end, club stalwarts Despotovski and Miller had each made 211 Glory appearances.
Despotovski went on to play 241 first-class games for the Glory, scoring 113 goals, while Miller turned out 227 times, scoring 17 goals.
Murphy, who had great success overseas with the likes of Notts County, West Brom and Sheffield United, joined the Glory in 2003 and captained the side to the NSL title.
Vest, who had been WA’s most successful coach in the 1970s with multiple triumphs with the State team, was assistant to d’Avray and later was interim senior coach with the Glory in 2005-6.
The Glory’s grand final line-up was:
Jason Petkovic, Matthew Bingley, Shaun Murphy, Jamie Harnwell, Jade North, Mark Byrnes, Tom Pondeljak, Adrian Caceres, Jamie Coyne, Bobby Despotovski, Damian Mori. Nik Mrdja replaced Despotovski after 82mins; Brad Hassell replaced Coyne after 95mins. Unused subs: Vince Matassa, Wayne Srhoj, Anthony Danze.
The other squad members in Glory’s historic 2003-04 season, but not used in the grand final, were: Matt Horsley, Scott Miller, Andrew Packer, Gary Faria, Nick Ward, Aaron Cole, Dean Apelgren, Shane Crampton, Greg Sharland, Scott Bulloch.
Top Picture: Nik Mrdja (centre back row) celebrates winning the NSL crown along with his Perth Glory team-mates.
Bottom Picture: Perth Glory captain Shaun Murphy shows off the NSL trophy.