Perth Glory celebrate winning the 2018-19 A-League Premiership

Overcoming Stormy Days: the Perth Glory Story 2013-2021

In celebration of Perth Glory’s 25th anniversary the Football Hall of Fame WA presents the sixth and final instalment of the clubs’ history, in which we look back on the happenings of the past eight years.

Perth Glory’s quest for a first trophy since winning the 2003/04 National Soccer League title seemed a distant dream when controversy surrounded the club mid-way through 2014/15, its 10th season in the A-League. Success would eventually come the clubs way in the form of the 2018/19 Minor Premiership crown. Before that though, there would be a couple of near-misses and some dark times.

Kenny Lowe took over the coaching reins in December 2013 following the sacking of Alistair Edwards and guided the club to eighth in the ten-team competition. In the years that followed the affable Englishman would succeed in steering Glory back into finals football and, on two occasions, came agonisingly close to bringing silverware back to Perth.

The fans welcomed Lowe with open arms. He was well-known in local football circles having played in the State League, coached elite juniors and development squads and been an assistant coach at Glory. Lowe was regarded as a “man of the people” in the same way that Bernd Stange had been embraced 15 or so years earlier.

Kenny Lowe
Perth Glory coach Kenny Lowe

For 2014/15 Glory recruited strongly, bringing in former Irish international forward Andy Keogh, ex-Socceroos midfield-striker Richard Garcia, goalkeeper Danny Vukovic and defender Dino Djulbic, who returned to the club after spells in Europe and Asia. The future for the club, and Lowe, looked promising when they reached the final of the newly-launched FFA Cup, only to lose the decider 1-0 to hosts Adelaide United after Josh Risdon was red carded just before the hour mark.

Glory’s line-up for their first FFA Cup Final was: Danny Vukovic, Josh Risdon, Dino Djulbic, Michael Thwaite, Scott Jamieson, Ruben Zadkovich, Rostyn Griffiths, Nebojša Marinković (Jamie Maclaren 79), Richard Garcia, Andy Keogh, Daniel De Silva

Glory made a flying start to the 2014/15 league season, winning 10 of its opening 13 games with Andy Keogh getting a hat-trick in his first outing against Brisbane Roar. Richard Garcia and young guns Chris Harold, Danny De Silva and Jamie Maclaren were also on the scoreboard in that period. Maclaren bagged a triple in the second-last fixture of the season, a 3-1 home win over Melbourne City.

Melbourne Victory finished top of the ladder with 53 points ahead of Sydney FC and Glory, who were locked together on 50 points. However, the season was soured in April when the club was found guilty of a breach of salary cap rules which saw them relegated to seventh place on the final standings and removed from the finals series.

A statement released by Football Federation Australia said that Glory had “deliberately failed to disclose reportable benefits and payments to at least six players, and from the beginning of the 2014-15 season has been operating in excess of the allowable salary cap of $2.55m by in the order of $400,000”. The club was fined over $260,000 and chief executive Jason Brewer stood down.

It was a huge blow to Lowe, Glory’s players and its’ supporters but there were brighter days on the horizon. The major acquisition for the 2015/16 campaign was former Spanish league player Diego Castro, who won the Johnny Warren Medal as the A-League’s best player in his first term. The midfielder went on to adorn the club with his exciting skills for six seasons.

Other new signings included returning locals Alex Grant and Adam Taggart, both who had been playing in England, while Andy Keogh – who left Glory in the wake of the salary cap breach – re-joined the club mid-season. The hunt for silverware took Glory to their second FFA Cup Final in twelve months but, alas, they’d again go home empty handed as Melbourne Victory came up trumps 2-0 in November 2015.

Glory’s line-up for the 2015 FFA Cup Final was: Ante Covic, Josh Risdon, Dino Djulbic, Michael Thwaite, Marc Warren (Antony Golec 86), Nebojša Marinković, Diogo Ferreira, Hagi Gligor (Guyon Fernandez 61), Richard Garcia, Sidnei (Alex Grant 74), Diego Castro

Perth Glory celebrate winning the 2015 FFA Cup semi-final
Perth Glory celebrate defeating Melbourne City to qualify for the 2015 FFA Cup Final

Diego Castro’s impact, not to mention his 13 goals from midfield, and the presence of Andy Keogh (10 goals) enabled Glory to secure finals football by finishing fifth on the ladder on 43 points, five behind minor premiers Adelaide United. But their trophy quest was short-lived, losing 2-0 away to Melbourne City in the elimination final.

The signs were encouraging for 2016/17 with the recruitment of one-time Middlesbrough captain Rhys Williams, journeyman goalkeeper Liam Reddy, attacker Joel Chianese and teenage midfielder Brandon Wilson. But it was the Castro-Keogh double act that was again to the fore, the Spaniard getting 13 goals to be one ahead of the Irishman. Youngster Adam Taggart also bagged 12 goals.

Despite an inconsistent home and away series, Glory qualified for the finals by placing fifth on the table. Dino Djulbic was on target twice to upset Melbourne City 2-0 in the elimination final after which they squared off with runaway minor premiers Sydney FC, who claimed a 3-0 semi-final victory. At seasons’ end Diego Castro collected his second consecutive Most Glorious Player award; he would win the trophy for a third time in 2018/19.

Spaniard Xavi Torres, who played twice for Barcelona, was recruited prior to the 2017/18 season, and Socceroos midfielder Neil Kilkenny midway through it. But an injury-plagued campaign saw Glory stutter to eighth on the ladder – a mid-season run of five successive losses was a hammer blow – as Sydney FC again dominated the A-League. Lowe’s men needed to win its last home fixture against Brisbane Roar to sneak into the top six, but lost 3-2.

That defeat cost Lowe his job. His four and a half seasons at the helm made him the club’s longest-serving coach, guiding them to 52 wins, 27 draws and 49 losses during his 128 games in charge. Chairman Tony Sage then brought off a coup when, in May 2018, he persuaded Tony Popovic to succeed Lowe. Popovic, who played 58 games for the Socceroos, had led Western Sydney Wanderers to the Asian Champions League crown in 2014.

Popovic immediately set about overhauling the squad by bringing in experienced defenders Ivan Franjic and Jason Davidson, former La Liga midfielder Juande along with talented youngster Chris Ikonomidis. The new coach’s first game in charge was a 1-0 loss to visiting English club Chelsea in front of 55,522 spectators at Optus Stadium – but making a major impact on the A-League was his focus, and he succeeded.

With Andy Keogh (15 goals), Diego Castro (9) and Ikonomidis (9) leading the line Glory collected their first trophy in 15 years. They wrapped up the 2018/19 minor premiership with a 5-0 final round home win over Wellington Phoenix to put them on 60 points – eight more than second-placed Sydney FC – and with a goal difference of +33 after scoring an impressive 56 goals in 27 games.

A crowd of nearly 18,000 turned out on May 10 at HBF Park (aka Perth Oval) to witness a thrilling semi-final between Glory and Adelaide United. Two goals from Diego Castro seemingly putting the hosts in command until Adelaide responded with two late strikes, the equaliser coming in the fourth minute of injury time. Both scored again in extra-time before Liam Reddy save four penalty kicks as Glory prevailed 5-4 in a marathon shoot-out.

The first A-League Grand Final to be staged at Optus Stadium attracted a record crowd of 56,371 on May 19. Joel Chianese, Dino Djulbic and Diego Castro all drew fine saves from Sydney goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne while Shane Lowry also went close, whereas the visitors failed to muster a single shot on target in a contest that finished scoreless after 120 minutes.

In the penalty shootout, however, it was the Sky Blues who were the more clinical, out-shooting the home team 4-1 with Reza Ghoochannejhad rifling home the sealing spot-kick. Juande found the net with Glory’s first spot kick before second half substitutes Andy Keogh and Brendon Santalab both had their efforts saved by Andrew Redmayne.

Glory’s line-up for their first A-League Grand Final was: Liam Reddy, Jason Davidson, Shane Lowry, Ivan Franjic (Scott Neville 91), Dino Djulbic, Joel Chianese (Andy Keogh 73), Matthew Spiranovic, Diego Castro, Chris Ikonomidis (Brendon Santalab 115), Juande, Neil Kilkenny (Jake Brimmer 106)

Uruguayan forward Bruno Fornarolli was the big signing for the 2019/20 season with Nick D’Agostino, Swiss international Gregory Wüthrich and Socceroo James Meredith amongst the other new faces in the squad. The side warmed up for the coming season with a glamour fixture against English Premier League giants Manchester United, who took out the July 2019 friendly 2-0 in front of 50,206 at Optus Stadium.

The season proper was thrown into chaos by the onset of COVID-19, leading to most of Glory’s home games being played without fans. Even so, the side managed to chalk up a ten-game run without loss, which included a 6–2 hiding of Newcastle Jets, before the A-League season was suspended in March 2020. The previous month Glory debuted in the Asian Champions League, going down 1-0 away at FC Tokyo.

When the A-League resumed, the club was without Wüthrich, Castro and several others for a variety of reasons related to the COVID-19 situation. Glory had looked like comfortably qualifying for the finals until losing four of their last five fixtures and just scraping into the play-offs. Glory beat Wellington Phoenix in the elimination final before losing to their nemesis, Sydney FC, in the semi-finals. A few days later Popovic announced he was off to join Greek side Xanthi FC.

Perth-born Richard Garcia, a former Socceroo who had been Popovic’s assistant and coach of the Glory youth team, was appointed senior coach in September 2020. His first competitive games in charge came two months later in the group stage of the Asian Champions League where Glory earned their first ever point in continental competition from a 3-3 draw with Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua.

In another COVID-19 stricken A-League campaign Glory collected just 10 wins from 27 games to finish well out of finals contention at ninth, which was the second-lowest placing in the clubs’ history. The on-field highlight of 2020/21 was a 5-1 home victory over Western Sydney Wanderers, with Andy Keogh getting four goals, while away from the playing arena there was a strong focus on recruiting local talent.

Perth Glory Logos 2009, 2021
Perth Glory introduced a new A-League logo in 2009 (left) and the 25th anniversary logo used in season 2021/22 (right)

For their 25th anniversary Glory re-modelled their club crest to reflect the original logo from 1996. Brandon O’Neill and Jack Clisby were lured back to their hometown club as was goalkeeper Brad Jones, who had spent the previous 20-years playing in England, the Netherlands and Saudi Arabia. Six weeks out from seasons’ start the club pulled off a major coup by signing former Liverpool, Chelsea and England striker Daniel Sturridge.

***FOOTNOTE: The advent of Perth Glory has undoubtedly changed the face of football in the west and this has been acknowledged by the Football Hall of Fame WA through the induction of many former players, coaches, administrators and support staff of the club. They are: Gareth Naven, Craig Naven, Bobby Despotovski, Scott Miller, Tommy Maras, Paul McVittie, Paul Strudwick, Tony Carbone, Robert Zabica, Gary Marocchi, Mickey Brennan, Willie McNally, Dr Ken Maguire, Roger Leftort, Barbara Rogoysky, Alistair Edwards, Tony Franken, Jamie Harnwell, Jason Petkovic, Alan Vest, Andy Petterson, Shaun Murphy, Stan Lazaridis, Chris Coyne and Graham Normanton.

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