PERTH Glory can take solace from their penalty shoot-out A-League Grand Final loss to Sydney FC by claiming a record that could stand for some considerable time.
The crowd of 56,371 which turned out at Optus Stadium on May 19 was the biggest gathering for an A-League Grand Final.
It beat the previous highest Grand Final crowd of 55,436 which saw Melbourne Victory demolish Adelaide United 6-0 in the 2006/07 decider at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne.
The biggest turn-out for a competitive domestic football match in Australia is the 61,880 attendance at the Sydney FC – Western Sydney Wanderers derby tussle in round one of the A-League in October, 2016.
And the record crowd for a competitive international game involving Australia is the 85,513 attendance at the Socceroos World Cup qualifier against Iran at the MCG in 1997.
In 2005 when the Socceroos beat Uruguay on penalties to qualify for the 2006 World Cup finals a crowd of 82,698 witnessed the thrilling action at ANZ Stadium in Sydney.
International friendlies have always drawn huge crowds around Australia. The biggest was the 99,382 that turned out at the MCG for the International Champions Cup decider between Manchester United and Real Madrid in 2015.
Two years before that, a gathering of 95,446 sang “You’ll Never Walk Alone” when Liverpool met Melbourne Victory in an international challenge at the MCG.
But the most staggering turn-out was witnessed during the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney when the gold medal match between Cameroon and Spain drew an Olympic record of 104,098 to Stadium Australia.
That beat the previous Olympic record of 101,799 for the men’s football gold medal decider in Los Angeles in 1984.
Perth Glory have been involved in recent years with all the bumper attendances in WA.
A crowd of 55,522 hardy souls braved driving rain and wind to watch English superteam Chelsea beat Glory 1-0 in a friendly at Optus Stadium on July 23, 2018.
Before that, a Subiaco Oval record of 43,242 saw the Glory’s heartbreaking loss on penalties to Wollongong Wolves in the National Soccer League Grand Final in 2000. That was the biggest attendance for a football match in WA until the Chelsea-Glory encounter – and it also constituted a record for the NSL.
The Glory’s pulling power was undeniable and, in 2002, a crowd of 42,735 saw the Perth team lose another NSL Grand Final at Subiaco Oval, this time 1-0 to Olympic Sharks.
In 2003 the Glory won their first NSL Grand Final when they got their revenge on the Olympic Sharks, winning 2-0 before a crowd of 38,111 at Subiaco Oval. The memorable goals came from Jamie Harnwell, who has since been inducted into the Football Hall of Fame WA, and Damian Mori.
Before the Glory came along, it was the WA State team’s many confrontations with top class international visitors that drew in the biggest crowds.
A then record turn-out of 20,600 watched Manchester United, with a team that included superstars George Best, Denis Law and Bobby Charlton, thump WA 7-0 at the WACA Ground.
That attendance (which stood as the highest football turn-out in WA for over 30 years) had bettered the previous record of 18,242 who had watched Italian giants AS Roma beat the State team 4-2 in a thriller at Perry Lakes Stadium in 1966.
In 1964, the visit of Everton to face WA at the WACA Ground saw 16,019 turn up, while 14,000 watched Rapid Vienna beat the State side 6-1 at Subiaco Oval in 1955. Manchester City attracted 12,000 when they drew 1-1 with WA at Perry Lakes Stadium in 1970.
**Thanks to WA’s leading football historian Richard Kreider for the wonderful pics of the record crowd, and on-field action, at the Glory-Sydney FC game.