COLOSIMO DISAPPOINTED BY BOO-BOYS
Simon Colosimo has pledged his full commitment to Perth Glory for the remainder of the season but admits being booed by his own fans may convince him to leave the A-League club. Reports linking the Glory captain with Sydney F.C. next season resulted in Colosimo receiving a hostile reception from home supporters during last night’s loss to Queensland Roar. “It’s very disappointing,” Colosimo said. “Every player comes out of contract at some stage and no decisions are made yet and to read a press article and assume and do like they did was disappointing. I’m out there working my bum off for Perth and for the purple shirt and there’s purple shirts in the crowd booing me. It was a shock actually because they are good supporters ... but it disappointed most of the boys out there.”
Colosimo said there was bound to be speculation with his contract up at seasons’ end but insists everything is still very much up in the air. “Having interest is one thing and nutting out a contract is another,” Colosimo said of the interest from Sydney. “I’m in a stage at the end of my contract, in negotiations with Perth and whoever - but maybe they (the Perth fans) don’t want me here. It’s obviously tilting me the other way, if that’s the kind of reception I’m going to get from those guys. It’s different if I was to go somewhere else and come back next season with another team and get booed then fine. But I’m wearing their shirt and working hard for them and to get booed was pretty disappointing.”
Regardless of the crowds reaction, Colosimo says he will continue to give his all in Glory’s final three games of the season, two of which are at home. “Why wouldn’t I? I’m a professional football player,” he said. “I’m going to go out there and work for the shirt that I’m wearing. I’m very disappointed and I’m pretty bitter about it but, you know, I’ll have got over it by next weekend and it will be business as usual for me.” Glory, who remain at the foot of the table after the yesterdays loss but can still avoid the wooden spoon, host competition high-flyers Central Coast Mariners this Sunday.
GLORY NO MATCH FOR LEAGUE LEADER
Perth Glory have paid the ultimate price for lackadaisical defending as a ruthless Queensland Roar claimed a 4-1 victory from this evenings game at Members Equity Stadium. First-half goals to Robbie Kruse and Reinaldo and strikes after the break by Tahj Minniecon and substitute Josh McCloughan sealed all three points for the visitors who jump into joint top spot on the A-League table. Nick Rizzo got the solitary goal for Glory whose play-off aspirations were extinguished in front of 9,614 supporters, their biggest home crowd of the campaign.
The early possession may have been dominated by Glory, however, the hosts created very few genuine chances on goal as Queensland defending desperately. So it was against the run of play that Queensland hit the lead in the 34th minute when Minniecon slipped an inviting ball through for Robbie Kruse who calmly side footed past goalkeeper Tando Velaphi. Although stunned, Glory almost hit back immediately but Billy Celeski fired wide from 9-metres. It would prove a costly miss as with half-time beckoning Minniecon won possession from Hayden Foxe to set up Reinaldo who rifled in goal number two.
Rizzo gave the home crowd hope of a second half revival by sending a low shot past Liam Reddy at the back post from a James Downey cross on 57 minutes. Sasha Ognenovski made sure Queensland maintained the lead a minute later by deflected wide Celeski’s goal bound header. A dreadful error in the 59th minute effectively ended the game as Velaphi’s throw was too strong for Downey and in an instant Minniecon speared a low shot back past the Glory ‘keeper. The final nail in Glory’s coffin came in the 74th minute when Matt McKay’s free-kick from the right was nodded in by an unmarked McLoughhan at close-range.
PETKOVIC LOOKS TO PLAY ON
Jason Petkovic has revealed he plans to play on next season after being included in the Perth Glory squad that faces Queensland Roar today. Petkovic has missed more than 14 months after breaking his leg in two places in a horrific on-field collision with Simon Colosimo and Damien Mori. But the 35-year old former Socceroo is back and ready to take his place between the posts once again. “I think I’m feeling as good as I have been for the last three years,” Petkovic said. “I think the year off has helped me and after all this hard work I wouldn’t mind seeing another season out. It’s a lot of work for just three or four games.”
David Mitchell plans to ease Petkovic back into playing duties having proved his fitness at the end of an exhaustive rehabilitation program. “Jason is in a situation where he can’t get any fitter by training, so he’s actually got to play now, so the next step is playing,” said the Glory coach. “I’m bringing him into the squad slowly. He’s on the bench, and he’ll be taking part in the warm-up (on Sunday) and getting back into the feel of what it's like to be in the squad and ready to play when called upon."
But with Tando Velaphi performing well between the posts, Petkovic has a fight on his hands to regain the status as the club’s number one ‘keeper. “I haven’t played for 14 months so I can’t expect to walk straight in considering the injury I had and the time I had off,” Petkovic said. “I’ve got to prove to him (Mitchell) I can still do it and once I’ve done that, I think that’s enough to make my point. If he thinks my experience will be handy for the team, he’ll put me in.”
Petkovic admits to feeling a little anxious about being recalled to the starting eleven but has no doubt he’d be able to fulfil his duties when called upon. “I’ve trained a good two months now with the team and I’m ready to give it a go,” he said. “I wouldn’t put myself in this position unless I was feeling comfortable with my movement. I think it’s better than it has been for a long time. In terms of fitness I’ve got to the top level. I need to start playing games to get the sharpness. I’ve already played a game and a half, two games in game matches, but I need to start playing games now to improve that last 10 per cent.”
LAZARIDIS REMAINS ON HOLD
The comeback of former Socceroo Stan Lazaridis has been delayed by another week. After serving a year-long suspension for taking a banned substance, Lazaridis had hoped to be selected for tomorrow’s home meeting with Queensland Roar. However, coach David Mitchell feels his star winger is still a little off the pace. “Stan won’t be in the squad … Stan’s trained well all week but I just don’t think he’s ready yet,” Mitchell said after training on Friday. ‘The boys did well up in Sydney and I want to be faithful to the boys that played well. It would be hard to leave them out and bring someone in who is probably not fully fit.”
HULL MUST MAINTAIN UPWARDS MOMENTUM SAYS GARCIA
Richard Garcia says Hull City must remain on the front foot if they want to maintain a push for the end of season play-offs. A three-game unbeaten run is the reward for the Tigers adopting a more pressing style of football in which opponents are not allowed to settle on the ball. “The gaffer’s emphasis has been on us being on the front foot and all about us putting pressure on the opposition instead of soaking it up,” he said. “We’re starting games on the front foot and it’s working positively for us at the moment.”
While Hull’s increased off-the-ball tempo has played its part in the club moving up to eleventh on the English Championship table, Garcia says their strong home record has also been important. “We’re hard to play at the KC (Stadium) and that has been an objective of ours all season,” he said. “We want to win as many as we can at home because that can be important in determining your league season. We’re trying our best to make it a hard place to come to.” Garcia is confident Hull can extend their unbeaten run when Sheffield Wednesday comes knocking on Sunday.
ANNUAL ALL-STARS NAMED
Each year footballwa.net honours those players who have consistently captured our attention over the winter months with inclusion in the unofficial All-Stars squad. This year's squad includes a number of familiar faces along with thirteen players making their first appearance in our squads. With another year about to tick over the time is ripe to pay tribute to the twenty-two players selected in the 2007 Premier League All-Stars team and shadow squad.
FLOREAT'S UNBEATEN SEASON THE HIGHLIGHT OF 2007
Floreat Athena lifting the Premier League title without defeat was the highpoint of 2007 according to the readers of footballwa.net. Of almost 300 votes cast in our final poll for the year, 31% were allocated to Floreat who claimed their first championship in a decade by winning eighteen and drawing four of twenty-two games. Lisa DeVanna's goalscoring exploits at the women's World Cup finals (24.2%) was voted into second place. The 23-year old put away four goals in as many games as Australia made the quarter-finals for the first time.
21-year old midfielder Collette McCallum being voted Asia's third best female player (11%) was the third greatest achievement of 2007. Mandurah City's storming First Division title success (8.9%) was followed by the Gold Medal win of Fremantle Spirit veteran Dale Wingell (7.6%). And only a couple of votes behind Wingell was Stirling Lions' back-to-back Cup final victory (7.2%). The 25-goal season of Floreat striker Jerry Karpeh's (5.9%) was voted in ahead of Perth S.C. claiming the Night Series trophy (4.2%).
LAZARIDIS READY TO ROAR
David Mitchell will have the luxury of a near full strength squad to select from when Perth Glory tackles Queensland Roar at Members Equity Stadium on Sunday. In a massive boost for the home team, Stan Lazaridis is back after serving a twelve-month suspension for a positive drug test and Jason Petkovic returns after over a year out with a broken leg. Captain Simon Colosimo is back after missing two game through injury as is Nikolai Topor-Stanley who returns from suspension.
Lazaridis returned to training late last month and has built his fitness to a level where he believes he can make a positive contribution to the side. “You have to do the yards on the training field and I’ve had a few weeks now … being available to play and being match fit are two different things,” said Lazaridis. “It is great to be back and I feel as though I’m somewhere close but in saying that the boys have been playing really well and I’m not too sure if the team is going to get changed, and nor should it be, if the boys are winning.”
Both teams have plenty to play for on Sunday with Glory fighting to keep alive their slim finals dream whereas Roar are hoping to consolidate a top two placing. “Any team is capable of beating another on any given day, there is nothing really between the teams and it’s a credit to all the clubs,” he said. “We’re obviously building for next year and we can definitely help shape the final four. We have turned the corner and if you look at Dave Mitchell’s record since taking over I think it is as good as any of the top four and if we can carry that into next season we’ll be in good stead.”
Whether or not Lazaridis features on Sunday is down to Mitchell, however, the former Socceroo knows the day is fast approaching when he’ll again pull on the purple shirt. “I just have to prepare well and be fit and available and put my hand up and then it’s up to the coach to make the final decision,” he said. “I have pictured it a couple of times and I just have to take it as it comes. There are a lot of people, friends, family and supporters that have been asking when I’m coming back and I think they’re probably more eager than me sometimes but it’ll definitely be a nice feeling.”
HEAT CAN’T SPOIL GLORY SPIRITS
It was business as usual for Perth Glory as the West Australian capital sweltered through its hottest December day on record. With the mercury soaring Glory’s players were staking their claim to a spot in the side that faces Queensland Roar on Sunday evening. Although this mornings’ session featured shorter drills and plenty of drinks breaks, Simon Colosimo says the heat hasn’t affected the teams’ preparation. “It is going to be a tough few days and the coaches understand that,” he said. “They have modified what we’re doing so that we don’t overheat and our drills have been set out accordingly but no one is taking it easy as we all want to impress.”
With Glory coming off arguably their best performance of the season coach Dave Mitchell has some tough decisions to make. Should he stick with the same side that collected all three points from Sydney F.C., or does he shuffle the deck and recall star trio Colosimo, Jason Petkovic and Stan Lazaridis. “I don’t know if we’ll get a game,” commented Colosimo. “The boys belted Sydney a few weeks ago and I know that training will be quite intense and everyone wants to be playing.”
After two games out with a hamstring injury Colosimo says he’s fit and ready to return this weekend. “That was always the plan and at this stage, knock on wood, it is looking good,” said the Glory captain. “I tested it today and joined in a little bit with the boys but held back and I’ll take it up another level tomorrow and test it full on. I won’t go out there is it isn’t right, I don’t want to be taking a spot in the team if I can’t contribute in a positive way.”
Glory faces some of the competitions’ top dogs at home over the next three weeks. “I think we’re going to play a big part in the finals race,” Colosimo said. “We want to accumulate as many points as possible, there is still that slight hope of us making it if we win our matches and other results going our way, but regardless of that we want to finish on a high. We owe something to our fans and I’m glad we’ve got three games at home. As a group we owe the supporters nine points in the next three weeks as a do over for the year we’ve had.”
SCHOOLBOYS CALL-UP PRETORIUS
John Curtin College student Ryan Pretorius will join schoolmate Anthony Fearon as the only two West Australians in the Australian Schoolboys team which will tour the United Kingdom early in the new year. Pretorius was initially named in the shadow squad but a fortnight ago was elevated to the travelling party. Fearon and Pretorius, who play for Western Knights and Fremantle Spirit, respectively, head overseas on 17th January for games against schoolboys teams from England, the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales as well as English colleges. Scouts from some of Britain’s biggest clubs are expected to be watching.
Pretorius was delighted by the news, which is the high point of his decade involvement in the game. “I have been playing organised football since I was seven, I started at Cockburn,” said Pretorius, who was one of the star performers for West Australia at Septembers national championship in Darwin. “I have just been selected for the Fremantle Spirit reserves, and played last season in the under-18’s. My two older brothers play football and my dad played his life and coached as well. I love the game.”
Inspired by superstars like Thierry Henry, Ronaldinho, Cristiano Ronaldo and Ruud van Nostelrooy, Pretorius is comfortable playing in the middle of the park or as striker. “My ambition is to play professionally in England, to make a living out of football and live a good life. I would love to play for Australia some day,” said the versatile youngster, who has just finished Year 12 at john Curtin where he was part of the specialist soccer program.
Fremantle under-18’s coach Gelnn Leckenby said Pretorius had developed well over the past three of four years and had a promising future. “He was a strong junior representative in the under-13s and under-14s which were very successful,” said Leckenby. “He is being trialed with the Fremantle under-23s which will be a good development opportunity for him. He has the skills, good ball control and a good head for the game. The potential is there and it’s really in his court in terms of how far he takes it.”
PETKOVIC CLOSE TO RETURN
Goalkeeper Jason Petkovic has made another giant stride towards an A-League return with a strong showing in Perth Glory’s intra-club match on Thursday night. Petkovic, who suffered a horrific double break to his leg against Central Coast Mariners 14 months ago, moved well in the hit-out and is pressing for a spot in the travelling squad. Coach David Mitchell said the 35-year old former Socceroo looked good in the 60-minute match and was edging closer to a Glory return. “He’s been training very hard to get back and he’s looking fit, so it’s good for him,” Mitchell said.
Although the Glory will not play this weekend, Mitchell has been training the players hard as the club looks to end the season in impressive fashion. “We had a game last night against ourselves. It was good. It was a high-tempo game and it was really beneficial for the boys,” said Mitchell, who has turned around Glory’s season since his appointment seven weeks ago. “It was as much for Stan (Lazaridis) and Jason (Petkovic) than for the other players that haven’t been playing. They both looked good.”
It might be hard for Mitchell to find the pair a spot in the Glory line-up after their superb 4-2 win against Sydney F.C. While the players will be able to enjoy a couple of days off over Christmas it will only be a short break with a crucial match against Queensland Roar looming large. “We’re back on the track on Boxing Day and that will allow plenty of time to fine-tune our preparations against Queensland,” said Mitchell. “It was a good result against Sydney and we’ll use it as a spring board for the next three games at home.”
TARKA ON THE COMEBACK TRAIL
David Tarka faces a tough decision should Perth Glory win the remaining four games of the season to qualify for the finals. The central defender has been sidelined since injuring his hamstring in Glory’s opening game of the season and has undergone surgery and intense rehabilitation. But Tarka is now back jogging and thinks there is a slight chance he’d be fit enough to play by the end of January when the finals start. “It would be touch and go if I could play finals,” he said. “I’d have to make a hard call. I’ve done this two or three times and would’ve been tempted to push it to play finals.”
Tarka, last seasons’ Most Glorious Player, may not have played in four months but following a long rehabilitation he is fit and close to putting his hand up for selection. “The medical team is happy and I’m happy. Rehab is going to plan,” he said. “I’m doing some jogging and gym work and we’re confident I can make a full recovery. I’ll increase my jogging over the next four or five weeks and hope to be doing warm-ups with the team in the next two or three weeks.” Glory sits in last place on the A-League table but, with four games still to play, are only seven points outside the four.
PERTH IS WHERE BERTOS WANTS TO BE
He may be a proud New Zealander but Leo Bertos says he’d rather stay with Perth Glory than return home to play for Wellington Phoenix next season. Bertos is one of a large number of Glory players whose contracts are up for renewal at the end of this season, but with coach David Mitchell breathing new life into the side the 26-year old wants to be stick around for 2008/09. “I’m up this year so I’m in the same boat as about 14 or 15 of us [at Glory],” he said. “I’d like to stay for sure. I’m enjoying myself at Perth and Mitch seems to be sorting things out at the club.”
Glory may be stumping up the A-League table but their stunning 4-2 dismantling of Sydney F.C. last week has offered a ray of hope. And with three home games in their final four fixtures of the season, the most improbable story may yet unfold. “It’s still mathematically possible,” Bertos says of Glory’s finals hopes. “We’d have to rely on other results going our way, but we’re not really looking at the bigger picture just yet. We just want to concentrate on our next home game and the one after that. We want to continue our good form and giving our fans something they’ve been missing out on.”
COLOSIMO SHELVES CONTRACT TALKS
Simon Colosimo will put contract negotiations on the back burner with his immediate focus on recovering from injury and helping Perth Glory continue its late season revival. The Glory captain is in the final stages of a three-year deal but has pushed contract talks to the back of his mind following confirmation David Mitchell will lead the side into 2008/09. “I think it is one of the most pro-active things the club has done since the start of the A-League,” he said of Mitchell’s appointment. “For the guys who are out of contract it gives a chance to know who is going to be here rather than a club minus a coach. The longer the club went without appointing a coach the more unsure I would have been and probably encouraged to look elsewhere, but knowing Mitch is going to be there I have put things on hold and will wait until the end of the season.” Only eight of Glory’s 23 players are contracted beyond the current term.
The 'staff' of footballwa.net would like to wish all our readers a very merry Christmas, a joyous New Year and most importantly a safe holiday period. In next week's update - our final one for the year - we plan to honour those players that impressed us the most during the past twelve months with the announcement of the 2007 Premier League All-Stars team and Shadow Squad.
APELGREN AND FOSTER SIGN UP FOR FLOREAT
Premier League champions Floreat Athena have taken a giant step in the right direction to go back-to-back with the signing of Dean Apelgren and David Foster. Coach Michael Roki has been chasing the influential pair for the past couple of years and could not be happier about finally luring both players to Litis Stadium. “I’ve been delighted with the off-season negotiations and are pleased to confirm Dean and David will be joining us when we commence pre-season training in January,” said Roki. “We’ve had both players in our sights for several years but their loyalty to their respective clubs meant they stayed put - until now.”
Apelgren, winner of the State League’s Rookie of the Year while at Fremantle City in 2003, is seen as a likely replacement for midfield general Bajo Savic, who’ll miss next season after recently undergoing a knee reconstruction. “Deans’ composure, vision and distribution should hold him in good stead to challenge for a central midfield role,” said the Floreat coach. “With Bajo out of action it was a priority for us to acquire another quality midfielder to maintain depth within the squad. Our thoughts are that this talented player will blend smoothly into our style of play and that we are keen to see him take his game to another level.”
A move to Floreat could be just the tonic for Foster who’s been plagued by injury and illness since claiming the 2004 Golden Boot with Swan I.C. “David is keen to freshen up and regenerate his career and hopefully we can assist him to do that, just as we have for several other players,” commented Roki. “Should Jerry Karpeh be offered another season with Perth Glory, David will cement his spot in a strike force that already includes of Garin Collins, Josip Magdic and Bran Mikulic. David exhibits all the awareness and sharpness you would expect of a Golden Boot winner, and his ability to find the net will assist Floreat in applying further pressure to any defence.”
ROMARIO’S SUSPENSION FLOORS LAZARIDIS
Perth Glory midfielder Stan Lazaridis can not believe the four-month suspension handed out to former Brazil striker Romario for testing positive to finasteride. Lazaridis was astonished to hear that Romario had received a 120-day ban for testing positive to the hair loss treatment - the same drug that cost the former Socceroo twelve months on the sidelines. “You’re joking?” was Lazaridis’ initial reaction when contacted by the ‘West Australian’ newspaper. “It doesn’t seem fair to me, but the whole case wasn’t fair.”
Lazaridis was left frustrated by administrative delays when he tested positive to finasteride - a drug he was taking to combat a scalp condition but one which is banned because it can be used as a masking agent. Although he had applied for exemption to use the drug, Lazaridis started taking the medicine during a long delay in processing his request which was granted only after he returned the positive test. “It’s annoying but at the end of the day it’s in the past and I’ve served my time. I can’t change that,” said Lazaridis, who is expected to make his Glory return against Queensland Roar this weekend.
HARNWELL BAN TO STAND
Football Federation Australia has dismissed Jamie Harnwell’s appeal against an extra week’s suspension. An FFA disciplinary committee has confirmed a two-match ban for serious foul play against Harnwell stemming from the recent game with Wellington Phoenix. The Perth Glory legend had an extra week added to his automatic one-game suspension by the FFA after being sent off for a late challenge on Vaughan Coveny. He will be eligible to return for Glory’s home clash with Central Coast Mariners on 6th January.
GLORY TO MOVE UP TABLE TIPS TARKA
Injured defender David Tarka is confident Perth Glory can pick up enough points in the next few weeks to finally climb their way up the A-League table. "With our next three games on home soil, we have a great chance to leap above Wellington Phoenix and struggling defending champions Melbourne Victory," said Tarka, whose season was cut short by a hamstring injury. "It will remain our goal to finish the season strong, avoid the wooden spoon and continue to build for next season."
The fact Glory have won three and drawn one of their six games since David Mitchell took up the coaching reigns bodes well for the club. "Our performances have been much more consistent under Dave Mitchell and the squad is looking forward to the future," he said. "With injuries and suspensions ravaging the squad, our depth was tested (against Sydney F.C.) on the weekend by having to play numerous players out of position. The group showed courage and great resolve to get maximum points away from home. We need to build on these results and string a few games to together, especially at Members Equity."
The expected return of Stan Lazaridis and Jason Petkovic when Glory host Queensland Roar next weekend will provide the side a massive boost for the final weeks of the season according to Tarka. "Both provide a wealth of experience and may be a key factor in our climb up the ladder," he said. "Having both overcome huge personal challenges in the past twelve months, they are an inspiration to the playing group and an asset to the club. Their commitment and dedication to bounce back proves what has made them so successful in their individual careers. We hope they gain some form in the remaining games and play on next season."
INDIGENOUS YOUTH BENEFIT FROM GLORY EXPERIENCE
Perth Glory are doing their bit to assist the development of indigenous students from Balga Senior High School. New Glory recruit Jerry Karpeh led a training session last week attended by students from the Dare To Dream program run by the Nyoongar Sports Association. The program aims to provide indigenous students from Balga the opportunity to experience a wide range of sports and life skills. Steven Turner, development officer with the Nyoongar Sports Association, said the program is in its first year and has been well received. “The students get to learn a range of skills including football, netball and beauty therapy and there is a health and education component to the program as well,” said Turner. “It also encourages students to stay at school and we have seen their attendance has improved markedly.”
LENNIE JOINS FOOTBALL WEST
Eddie Lennie, one of Australia’s most decorated referees, will take up the position of Referees Development Manager (RDM) with Football West early in the new year. The newly created role will be responsible for the recruitment, training and retention of referees within the state. “Eddie’s appointment marks a huge step forwards in our commitment towards officiating within the state, and I am confident Eddie will have a dramatic impact on the recruitment, development and retention of our match officials in his new full time role,” said Football West chief executive Garry Chandler.
Lennie, who was last week inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame, can not wait to start his new position. “I am delighted at accepting this very important position within Football West. This additional commitment of a RDM is another opportunity to further our efforts in the recruitment, retention, education and development of our metropolitan officials, and it will also give us the resources to hopefully apply the same initiatives to our country associations,” said Lennie.
Another of Lennie’s priorities is to boost the number of referees in order to accommodate the world games recent growth spurt in Perth. “The need for more referees has never been so essential with the increase participation of players at all levels,” he explained. “I would like to encourage all clubs to work with me on this. I look forward to meet as many of our football family as I can, to share the passion that I have on all matters relating to our wonderful game especially refereeing.”
COLOSIMO WELCOME TO MOVE ON
Perth Glory will not enter a bidding war in order to keep captain Simon Colosimo at the club next season. Although David Mitchell would not readily discard one of Glory’s highest paid players, the coach conceded he would not fight to retain Colosimo, who has been attracting strong interest from Glory’s A-League rivals Sydney F.C. and Melbourne Victory. “If Simon wants to go to Sydney or Melbourne then there’s nothing I can do,” Mitchell said. “If he wants to go, it’s down to the player. It’s his prerogative because his contract is up.”
Colosimo, who started his second stint with Glory at the inception of the A-League three seasons ago, said he had been approached by Sydney about a possible move come the end of April. The one-time Socceroo midfielder conceded Glory fans might be dubious about his intentions after he walked out on the club in 2003 to join Parramatta Power after leading Perth to National Soccer League success. “I’ll look at the pros and cons of whatever’s on the table from whoever, and go from there,” Colosimo said. “At the end of the day, I’ve still got to weigh up everything. I’m not going to say ‘yes I’m staying’ or ‘no I’m not’.”
MITCHELL BEAMING AFTER MEMORABLE WIN
There was no wiping the smile off David Mitchell’s face after orchestrating Perth Glory’s 4-2 win against Sydney F.C. yesterday. A Billy Celeski hat-trick and Leo Bertos’ scored his first A-League goal earned Glory all three points to leave Sydney’s play-off dream in tatters. “It was solid performance all over the park, everyone did their job and that was the key to producing a terrific win,” Mitchell commented. “I’m extremely proud of the player’s commitment and let there be no doubt we were up against it tonight, we scaled a huge mountain and can stand proudly on top after 90 minutes of quality football.”
With captain Simon Colosimo and fellow midfielder Mitchell Prentice unavailable, Mitchell shifted Jamie Coyne and James Robinson in the middle of the park and handed new recruit Jerry Karpeh his first A-League start. “I was very worried because Sydney have a lot of movement up front and dropping into midfield,” explained the Glory coach. “With Simon and Mitchell missing, both who have been playing very well for us, I just wanted to block it up a little bit. They played fantastically. Jerry Karpeh led the line well in what is a big step up for him.”
The Glory coach admitted to a few pre-match nerves about meeting Sydney minus the services of so many key players. “Everyone had written us off and thought we weren’t going to get a result … I was a bit worried myself with the line-up we had going into the game,” said Mitchell. “But we tried a couple of things and they paid off handsomely in the way we played. To get a win off the back of last week’s result was credit to the boys. It wasn’t just the win, it was the way we played football. There was a lot of skill and flair in a convincing win.”
CELESKI STUNS SYDNEY
Perth Glory inflicted upon Sydney F.C. their first defeat under John Kosmina with a shock 4-2 win at the Sydney Football Stadium this evening. Midfielder Billy Celeski capitalised on a succession of defensive errors to net a hat-trick while Leo Bertos was also on the scoresheet to secure Glory’s third win of the year in front of 12,402 fans. Sydney veteran Steve Corica gave the hosts a faint hope early in the second half with Michael Bridges getting a late consolation. Although missing several key players through injury and suspension, Glory dominated possession in what was arguably their most accomplished performance of the campaign.
The early signs were ominous for Sydney as a poorly hit clearance by goalkeeper Clint Bolton deflected off Bertos and bounced on to the roof of the net. The hosts regained their composure and went close through Tony Popovic and Alex Brosque but neither could find the target. However, Sydney lost some momentum when Robbie Middleby was stretchered off with a shin injury midway through the half. Glory pounced in the 34th minute when Mark Milligan coughed up the ball to Celeski who waltzed through to rifle into the top corner. A minute later Celeski had the small band of travelling supporters celebrating again after robbing possession from Terry McFlynn and unleashing a powerful left-footer which was too good for Bolton.
Glory could not have wished for a better start to the second half which was four minutes old when Nick Rizzo’s cross from the right found Bertos who expertly weaved through three opponents before netting at close-range. A quick reply was what Sydney wanted and Corica delivered with a crisp volley from 15-metres past a stranded Tommi Tomich. This breathed new life into the home side but Brosque and David Zdrilic fired wide when well positioned. Hayden Foxe and Dino Djulbic dealt confidently with a succession of corners, while Brosque should have done much better than shoot straight at the ‘keeper after being sent through by Corica.
The game was put beyond Sydney’s reach in the 77th minute when Celeski completed his hat-trick by converting from the spot following Iain Fyfe’s foul on James Downey. Substitute Naum Sekulovski could have further extended the visitors lead after getting on the end of a Bertos free-kick which he lifted high at close-range. Sydney threw everything into bringing some respectability to the scoreline as Mark Rudan headed against the crossbar from a corner, and Adam Biddle cutting past his marker before arrowing a low shot just past the upright. Their reward came in the final minute of regulation time when Biddle won possession from Foxe and played through for Bridges to slot past Tomich.
BEIJING IS THE TARGET FOR WARD
Melbourne Victory's new signing Nick Ward wants to use his time back in the A-League to sharpen himself up for Australia’s Beijing Olympic Games campaign, experience Asian Champions League football and get back into the sort of shape to play in Europe once more. And if he can help Victory ignite its flickering finals hopes in the process, that would be a welcome bonus. The 22-year old only arrived back in Australia from England this week so it might be expecting a lot for him to have a huge impact in the must-win game against Newcastle United on Sunday evening.
Ward played on 22 games during an 18-month spell with London club Queens Park Rangers but rather than be disillusioned by his lack of success the midfielder says he’s now a much tougher person and player. “Everybody wants to go back to Europe, that’s where I want to be playing, but I have got to get right (and) get back playing,” he said. “I haven’t totally said that I am staying for six months and then I am gone, I am going to get match fit and see how it goes. The main focus at the moment is to make the top four. If I can help that would be great.”
A string of managerial changes during his time at Loftus Road combined with the fact he was regularly on duty with the Australian Olympic team did Ward no favours in England. “I had a bit of a tough time in England with QPR - there were about four managers in the time I was there,’ he explained. “I have definitely developed as a player. You can’t buy the experience you get over there. It’s cut-throat - you might have a manager that signs you and then a new manager comes in and he wants his own player. I don’t think it was a mistake (going to Rangers), I just think I had a bit of bad luck. Coming back is a great opportunity to get playing again and become involved with the Olympics … the only time I was really playing was when I was going away with the Australian team.”
GLORY SET TO SURPRISE SYDNEY
Perth Glory are preparing to spring a selection surprise against Sydney F.C. today with the intention of upsetting a side shooting for the finals. Coach David Mitchell has experimented in training this week and is set to make some significant tactical changes, including switching defender Jamie Coyne into a midfield role. With captain Simon Colosimo sidelined by a hamstring injury and Mitchell Prentice suspended, Coyne is preparing to be deployed as a holding midfielder to steady the Glory ship.
Although Coyne shot to prominence with Perth S.C. as a midfielder, in recent years he has become accustomed to playing at right back with a few spells in the heart of defence. “I’m looking forward to it. Sydney are still trying to get into the finals and we’re not going to make it easy for them,” he said. Mitchell concedes Glory is out of the finals race and is using the remainder of the season to test several players in different roles.
YOUNG CONSIDERS INTERSTATE OPTION
The chance of playing in the Victorian State League could be just around the corner for Sorrento shot-stopper Neil Young. Last seasons’ Goalkeeper of the Year is one of three local players who’ll be given a shot at glory when he trials with former national league club South Melbourne early in the New Year. “South Melbourne are looking for a couple of players and thanks to some kind words from a few well respected coaches and club men from opposition teams my name was put forward,” explained Young.
Accompanying Young on the trip will be his Sorrento teammate Steve MacDonald, a former Motherwell player, and State representative Shane Nunes, who currently plies his trade with Cockburn City. If the South Melbourne coaching staff like what they see in the trip, Young, MacDonald and Nunes will be hoping to emulate the achievements of Dino Djulbic, Antonio Naglieri and Andreas Oliveira who helped the club win the Victorian championship in 2006.
The recent season was a source of much frustration for Young who missed a sizeable part of the campaign through suspension and injury. “The suspension I received was a little harsh, the tribunal got it wrong and that cost me,” Young said of missing seven games after being sent off against Perth S.C. “Injuries happen and you have to work hard with the physio off the park to get back to playing as soon as you can. It was extremely hard watching Sorrento lose as bad as we did last year but I think that experience will help us be a stronger team in 2008.”
Young has absolutely no doubts that 2008 will see a return to form for Sorrento who are determined to leave behind the disappointments of last season. “We blooded a lot of young kids this year and they will be better off for having a tough season,” he said. “The signing of Shaun Kilkelly will help bring stability and experience to the back line, and there’s a strong possibility that a few other signings will add depth to Sorrento. Plus Steve Neville is in charge again and there is no way he’ll let us have another season like the one we just had.”
PERTH MOVE HAS JUKIC EXCITED
New Perth S.C. recruit Andrija Jukic is up for the challenge offered by his move to Dorrien Gardens. The spring-heeled attacker hopes his decision to end a lengthy association with Western Knights will have long term benefits for his career. “I’d been at the Knights for a long time and feel I’d learnt as much as I can with the club,” said 20-year old Jukic. “Moving to Perth gives me an opportunity to look at things a bit differently, to add something more to my game and maybe make that move up to the next level.”
Jukic is excitingly looking forward to his first season wearing his new clubs’ trademark azzurri shirt. “I’ve heard a lot of really good things about the set-up at Perth,” he explained. “They are arguably the best club in the league and the facilities at Dorrien Gardens reflect that. Something that really appeals to me is being coached by Graham Normanton, he has a reputation for getting the best out of player and I feel he can teach me a few new things which will help improve my game. The pre-season starts later this month and I can’t wait.”
Like any player Jukic would like nothing more than to play a key role in his teams’ successes. But for his first season at Perth the young attacker has set his sights on a far more modest target. “I’d love to win as many trophies as possible with Perth, but first of all I have to earn and hold a spot in the starting eleven and that won’t be easy amongst a very strong squad,” he said. “So proving myself at Perth and getting into the starting line-up is my first priority. After that I just want to improve on last season and, hopefully, help Perth win a few things.”
Leaving the Knights, the club where he first played football, was not a decision Jukic made lightly. “I have been at the club since I began playing as a junior and made my way up through to the first team so I have a strong connection to the Knights. I’m Croatian and my brother is still at the club so to leave was a very hard decision to make,” he explained. “The boys at the club are great and have been a pleasure to play and train with, and Ronnie Campbell and Willie Kelly are both good coaches who I have the utmost respect for. I’ll miss everyone at the club and wish them all the best for next season … except when they play Perth!”
GLORY FEEL THE PINCH
David Mitchell may be forced to go into Saturday's game at Sydney F.C. without a full complement of players after being hit by a spate of suspensions and injuries. After bracing for the absence of suspended trio Jamie Harnwell, Nikolai Topor-Stanley and Mitchell Prentice along with injured captain Simon Colosimo, the Perth Glory coach is now sweating on Dino Djulbic (adductor) and goalkeeper Tando Velaphi (ankle) shaking off their injuries to complete the 15-man travelling party.
Velaphi rolled his right ankle during training on Tuesday and failed to complete yesterday's session. "He's come off as a bit of a precaution and hopefully it's not too bad, but we'll see how it goes," Mitchell said. Velaphi's injury could pave the way for Tommi Tomich's return to the starting line-up, while veteran goalkeeper Jason Petkovic, who has been sidelined since breaking a leg last October, has indicated he is prepared to travel as a back-up goalkeeper if necessary.
Perth Glory have mutually agreed to part company with and midfielder Anthony Danze. Danze joined Glory at the start of the season but a series of niggling injuries forced him to play catch-up with his fitness and limited his opportunities. "Anthony has a wonderful talent and in the structure we've been playing I don't think we were able to see the best of it," said coach David Mitchell. "We discussed his options and Anthony came to the conclusion that it would be best for him to take a break from the game." Danze played just eight games, four of those off the bench, in his second spell with Glory.
SHEPHEARD TO DECIDE HIS FUTURE
Swan I.C. striker Tom Shepheard faces one of the toughest decision of his young career this festive season. The lanky 24-year old has matured greatly during his eight years with Swan but an approach by a rival club has given him plenty of food for thought. "I've been honest with the club by letting coach Paul Lincoln know that I'd spoken to a club and they were keen on signing me," Shepheard said. "I'll sit down over the break and make a decision. Swan have been great to me during my time here and the lads are great ... but we'll see what happens."
Lincoln, who took charge of Swan only two months back, considers Shepheard a key member of the side. "I'm aware that a club is interested in Tommy, and I've spoken to him and made him aware he is a required player and it would be a big loss should he decide to move," said Lincoln. "He has grown within the ranks of our club and showed last season what he can do at both ends of the park. It goes without sayng that we will do what we can to keep him at Francis Street for the future."
Shepheard has developed into one of the State League's most sought after attackers in recent years and last season was arguably the best of his career to date. Although happy with his form in 2007, Shepheard was surprised to win the black and whites top individual award. "I thought I had quite a good consistent season and my body held up for a change," he said with a wry smile. "But I believed Coley (Aaron Cole) would win the award because he was great for us last season. That said, to win the clubs' Fairest and Best is something I'll always cherish."
Further recognition of Shepheard's talents came in the way of his selection in the Football West Select XI that recently played three games against visiting Malaysian side Selangor. "It was a good learning curve for me and playing with the best players in the State was great experience for me, and I also managed to score a couple of goals which was a great thrill," he said. "Selangor were a lot smaller than us but were very quick and played the ball around well, but I thought we matched them in all the games."
AUSTRALIAN HALL OF FAME SALUTES LENNIE
Western Australia’s most decorated referee, Eddie Lennie, has been inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame. Lennie, the only Australian referee to have officiated at both Olympic Games and World Cup finals tournaments, was amongst nine players and officials who were recognised for their contribution to football at a ceremony today in Sydney. “It is a great honor for me to be inducted into the hall of Fame after more than thirty years as a referee and now working as a referees coach, the timing couldn’t have been better,” said Lennie.
Born in Glasgow in 1959, Lennie officiated 165 Scottish league games before immigrating to Perth in 1991. He rose quickly up through the ranks in Australia and within two years of arrival had refereed the first of his 195 national league games. He jointly holds the record of four national league Grand Finals, was awarded the Australian Referee of the Year three times and on five occasions collected the West Australian Referee of the Year.
Lennie refereed 27 ‘A’ international games, including two games at the 1998 World Cup in France, and had the whistle for a further 22 FIFA recognised internationals. Since hanging up his whistle in 2004 Lennie has served as a FIFA referees instructor for the Oceania region and worked tirelessly to develop and enhance refereeing at state levels through a variety of roles. He is the seventh West Australia to be recognised by the national Hall of Fame, joining players Ron Adair, Robbie Dunn, Gary Marocchi and Robbie Zabica, and administrators Julius Re and Bob McShane.
Australia’s most-capped player, Alex Tobin, was the only induction into the Hall of Champions. Tobin played 87 ‘A’ internationals for the Socceroos and amassed 522 games in a 20-year club career with Adelaide City, Parramatta Power and Northern Spirit. Long-serving Matilda’s defender Anissa Tann, Socceroo goalkeeper Terry Greedy and defender Steve Blair were awarded the Medal of Excellence. Added to the non-playing category alongside Lennie were administrators Heather Reid, John Barclay, Ted Rowley and Trixie Tagg.
GLORY STUNNED BY HARNWELL BAN
Jamie Harnwell has been handed an additional one-match suspension on top of his mandatory week on the sidelines after being red carded against Wellington Phoenix. The acting Perth Glory captain received an automatic one-game ban for his late challenge on Vaughan Coveny, but the A-League match review panel considered the tackle serious enough to warrant extending the suspension by another week. Harnwell, Glory’s top scorer this season, had been surprised even to have received a red card for a foul he felt was deserving of a yellow. “I was a bit shocked when I was told it was two weeks,” he said. Glory officials will review video footage of the tackle before deciding whether to appeal the additional week ban.
FOXE CLEARS FIRST HURDLE
A loss to Wellington Phoenix wasn’t the type of start Hayden Foxe had planned for his A-League career. It was a tough night in Wellington Phoenix for Glory, left to nine men and on the bottom of the table, but Foxe got through unscathed after a pre-season knee injury. “Unfortunately, the result didn’t go our way but it was fantastic to get out there with the boys," said the one-time Socceroo. “I pulled up a little stiff and sore, but that’s to be expected given how long it has been since I’ve played.”
Foxe says Glory’s roller-coaster ride of a season is all part and parcel of the game. “As a footballer, or in any type of work you’re doing, you want to do your job and we’ve endured plenty of ups and downs this season but that’s the nature of the game. I’ve always believed you have to go through the hard times to really appreciate the good ones,” he said. “We’re building for next year and in the process we can hopefully have a good finish to this season as well.”
Even though Glory have been anchored to the foot of the A-League table for much of the campaign, Foxe won’t rule out a late charge to qualify for the play-offs. “Even though the results haven’t been going for us, we have played some good football. Our guys have lots of potential, and we still had the better of the game when we were down to ten men, so there’s positives to take out of it,” he said. “If results go our way and all of a sudden we win five in a row, it can happen in this league, but we have a massive hill to climb.”
Foxe has been won over by the standard of the new national competition and believes it will prove a fertile ground for young and old players alike to ply their trade. “I didn’t see much of the A-League overseas, but coming back the standard is quite high and it’s a good league,” he said. “Generations going forward we will see more and more players coming back here to finish their careers. Even some young players that are trying to make their way in England or other parts of Europe, can come back here to get some experience and playing time.”
JUNIORS PLAY VITAL ROLE ON PHOENIX’ FUTURE
South West Phoenix are happy with how things are progressing for their entry into next years metropolitan juniors competitions. Football West granted the Bunbury-based club approval to field teams in the under-13, 14 and 15 age groups last month and trials for the three sides have been a roaring success. “Future Phoenix trials started a fortnight ago with over forty players strutting their stuff for the coaches,” said players’ representative Steve Suttie. “The turn out was better that expected considering many players were unable to attend due to school commitments, and in recent weeks the competition for places has certainly intensified.”
Suttie views the development of Phoenix’ three junior sides as vital to the on-going viability and success of the club as a semi-professional entity. “Junior players from the South West have always competed well with their metropolitan counterparts up to around under-12 level, but then the gap widens due to the stronger competition the metro area,” he said. Phoenix players will now have play in those same leagues giving them a chance to improve their skills and progress from the junior sides through to our youth team and eventually the senior squad.”
FONDYKE AND BIRIGHITTI INVITED TO AIS
Howard Fondyke and Mark Birighitti have been offered scholarships at the Australian Institute of Sport. A strong season in the local competition has set both players down the path to a professional career in the game as well as put the in the frame for national youth team selection. Fondyke broke into the senior line-up at E.C.U. Joondalup towards the end of the winter to partner Ian McMurray in attack, while Birighitti honed his skills with the National Training Centre in between keeping goal for the reserves at Perth S.C. “The selection of Howard and Mark continues a strong year for football within WA following the selection of five WA players in the Joeys and five female athletes in their respective national teams,” commented Football West chief executive Garry Chandler. The A.I.S. team competes in the Victorian State League and embarks on an annual overseas trip to further player develop and experience.
AUSTRALIAN RETURN ONLY TEMPORARY SAYS WARD
Melbourne Victory’s latest recruit, Nick Ward, is already plotting a return to Europe after being released by English Championship struggler Queens Park Rangers. The Olyroos midfielder is expected to make his Victory debut next weekend but views his return home as little more than a stopover before returning to Europe. “I haven’t given up on making it in Europe, quite the opposite,” Ward said. “The truth is I need to be playing games and that just wasn’t happening at Queens Park Rangers. Joining Melbourne gives me the chance to get my match fitness up to where it should be and to get back a bit of lost confidence. I hope I can help them reach the finals, but it looks a bit of a struggle at the moment.”
Although he played a pivotal role in Australia’s qualification for next year’s Beijing Olympic Games, he was played either played out of position or not at all by coach John Gregory while at Loftus Road. And when Gregory was sacked, Ward’s opportunities were non-existent under caretaker coach Mick Harford and then Italian Luigi Di Canio. “It’s been a frustrating period for me, but the dream is still alive,” Ward said. “I know that I need to come back home for the time being. I’ve spoken to (Olyroos coach) Graham Arnold and that’s his advice. I also want to show the Melbourne people what I can do. They are a brilliantly supported club and they deserve even more success.”
NIGHT SERIES GROUPS DRAWN
The opening salvo in season 2008, the McInerney Ford sponsored Night Series, has taken shape followin the drawing of groups by Football west chief executive Garry Chandler. The Premier league and First Division competitions both commence mid-February with two qualifying groups from which four teams progress to the knock-out stage. Games will be played every every Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening with hosting shared between Litis Stadium and Dorrien Gardens.
The twelve Premier League clubs have been split into two groups for the initial qualifying stage. Group A is made up of Armadale, Cockburn City, Premier League champion Floreat, Fremantle Spirit, newly promoted Mandurah City and Sorrento. Pitted together in Group B are Inglewood United, E.C.U. Joondalup, Night Series trophy holder Perth, Cup winner Stirling Lions, Swan I.C. and Western Knights.
For the first time all twelve second tier clubs will participate in the First Division Night Series which opens with two qualifying groups. Group A consists of Balcatta, Canning City, Dianella White Eagles, Queens Park, Rockingham City and Wanneroo City. Allocated a place in Group B are Ashfield, Bayswater City, Forrestfield United, Gosnells City, Morley Windmills and South West Phoenix.
The 2008 Night Series kicks off on Friday 15th February with double-headers scheduled across the opening five weeks. The top two ranked teams from each of the qualifying groups progress to the round of four which is scheduled for Dorrien Gardens on Saturday 22nd and Sunday 23rd March. The pre-season competition concludes with the final under lights at Litis Stadium on Saturday 29th March.
GLORY SELF-DESTRUCT IN WELLINGTON
Perth Glory slumped back to the foot of the A-League table with last nights’ disastrous 3-0 loss to Wellington Phoenix at Westpac Stadium. Shane Smeltz scored twice and Brazilian import Felipe once to earn Phoenix the points on a night when Glory pair Nikolai Topor-Stanley and Jamie Harnwell were shown red cards. “When you have nine men against eleven it makes it pretty hard. Having two guys sent off is very disappointing,” said coach David Mitchell. “There are five games left and we will be doing everything we can to win those while also looking at what we need for next season. The players know they’re playing for their future and it’s up to them whether they’ll be at the club next season or not.”
Leo Bertos led Glory’s charge with several penetrating breaks down the flanks in a frenetic start to proceedings. However, the home team created the better chances and in the 2nd minute Tony Lochead’s cross came off the near post and Dino Djulbic’s attempt to clear ricocheted off Smeltz and over the crossbar. Ahmad Elrich squandered a great chance for the hosts by firing wide shortly after, and in the 20th minute Lochead’s rasping drive sailed high of Tando Velaphi’s bar. A defensive error by Vince Lia presented Glory with a way in but Mitchell Prentice’s neat flick bounced off the upright.
Things went dramatically downhill for Glory in the 26th minute when Topor-Stanley was red carded for illegally halting Vaughan Coveny’s run into the box. Smeltz confidently strode up to the spot and sent Velaphi the wrong way much to the delight of the Phoenix supporters. Three minutes later Elrich created space for Smeltz who squared the ball across the face of goal for Felipe to bundle goal number two into the net at close-range. Glory came close to pegging a goal back just before the break when awarded an indirect free-kick inside the area which Bertos touched to Harnwell whose fierce strike cannoned off the bar.
Glory gave a much better account of themselves in the second half which was only a few minutes when Nikita Rukavytsya forced a fine diving save from Moss. Rukavytsya again went close a minute later with a strike from 18-metres that was deflected wide for a corner. Glory were unlucky not to pull a goal back through substitute Jerry Karpeh who poked just wide in a one-on-one with Moss. The hosts brought up their third on 72 minutes when Lia’s superb cross was nodded by Smeltz beyond the reach of Velaphi. Harnwell was issued his straight red card with seventeen minutes remaining a tackle from behind on Coveny. Bertos nearly bagged a late consolation for the visitors but Moss tipped the shot over the bar just minutes from the final whistle.
VERBEEK TO LEAD SOCCEROOS TO WORLD CUP
Dutchman Pim Verbeek has been confirmed as the new coach of Australia through to the end of the 2010 World Cup campaign. The former South Korea boss will have two months with the Socceroos before their qualifying campaign begin against Qatar in early February. Verbeek, 51, guided South Korea to the Asian Cup semi-finals this year and has coached Dutch clubs Sparta Rotterdam, Feyenoord Rotterdam and Fortuna Sittard. Verbeek takes over from Graham Arnold and Rob Baan, who both worked as interim coaches in the time since Hiddink left the post following the 2006 World Cup.
Verbeek is excited about the challenge that lies ahead and is very confident he can secure Australia’s safe passage into the 2010 World Cup. “I’m very proud and very happy that I’m the national team coach of the Socceroos,” said Verbeek. “I am looking forward to the challenge ahead of qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. I intend to become as familiar as possible with football in Australia and I will be based in Australia and intend to relocate immediately.”
PLATTEN COMMITTED TO ARMADALE
The past few seasons have been difficult for Armadale by anyone’s measure, however, defender Darryl Platten is showing no signs of feeling any strain. The Reds have done well to keep their heads above water since stepping up to the top flight and go into 2008 with their third change of coach in as many years. Platten has come up with the goods through thick and thin for Armadale to establish himself as the Premier League’s most accomplished - and most sought after - young defender.
Platten has been a regular fixture of the first eleven since being lured to the club by Peter Murphy in 2006. He enjoyed playing under Billy Russell and Tom Kilkelly last season and is looking forward to learning from new coach Brad Hassell next year. “It was a big surprise when I heard Billy and Tom were leaving as they had the whole team working for each other, but that’s football as they say,” said Platten. “I’ve spoken to Brad a few times and we’re heading forward as a club. He’s got everything set up for next season and I’m looking forward to working with him.”
There are some big plans afoot at Alfred Skeet Oval that will assist Armadale in their quest to move away from the bottom of the Premier League table. “The club is very ambitious and there is talk of a couple of imports coming in to strengthen the squad,” explained Platten. “Last season had the potential of being a good season for us - Bill and Tom had us working as a strong unit and we need to build on that. We weren’t the most talented football team, but we were well organised and very hard to break down.”
While Platten admits he has met with representatives from a number of rival clubs during the off-season he is also quick to dismiss suggestions he is about to leave Alfred Skeet Oval. “I’ve spoken with a couple of clubs but Armadale are aware of that and are okay with it,” said the 22-year old defender. “I thought long and hard about my future after listening to what other clubs had to offer and have decided to stay at Armadale. The club have been great to me since I joined them and this is my way of saying thanks for that.”
PERTH STRENGTHEN ATTACKING OPTIONS
Graham Normanton's plan of returning the Premier League trophy to Dorrien Gardens has gathered momentum with the recruitment of Andrija Jukic and Greg Sharland. The attack minded pair are viewed as a vital ingredients in Perth S.C. going one better than the runner-up spot gained last season. "Both players add creativity to the squad and provide us with another avenue to goal, which is something we lacked last season," said Normanton. "And I'm still looking at further strengthening the squad so there could be one or two more signings made before too long."
Jukic announced himself on the local stage by winning the 2004 Rookie of the Year with Western Knights. "Andrija is the type of player who can create goalscoring opportunities through his off the ball awareness and ability to make the seemingly impossible pass," said Normanton. "I wanted Andrija at Perth because I regard him as one of the best, if not the best up and coming young player in the league. His style of play fits the mould of how I like my team to play, so his transition to Perth should be quite smooth and I'm looking forward to working with him."
Luring Sharland to Dorrien Gardens hasn't been easy for Normanton. "I've been chasing Greg for about three years and are pleased to say he's finally a Perth player," explained the Perth boss. "Greg has gained some valuable experience at a higher level and I consider him to be one of the top five players in the league. He's got good vision, is a fine passer and has the on the ball strength to play as a striker if required. Like Andrija, the way he plays fits the Perth mould and if he comes through the pre-season injury free he'll make a major impact on the league this coming season."
CHANDLER APPOINTED CEO
Football West have appointed Garry Chandler to the role of chief executive officer. Chandler steps into the position on a permanent basis having been acting chief executive officer since the departure of Michelle Phillips in July 2006. "My Board colleagues and I have been extremely pleased with Mr Chandler's performance and are confident in making this appointment that we have the best candidate possible for the role" said Football West chairman Kevin Campbell.
Chandler could not be happier about leading West Australian football into the future. "The sport has made significant progress since Football West's inception in 2004, and whilst we have achieved much within the game over this past season, I am conscious of the challenges that lay ahead and look forward to driving the sport to greater heights in the coming years," he said. "It is a great time to be involved in football in this country and my primary focus will be on maximizing the incredible potential of the game here in Western Australia."
EDWARDS IN LINE FOR KEY GLORY ROLE
Alistair Edwards is poised to join the Perth Glory board after acting as an adviser in the reappointment of coach David Mitchell. Co-owners Tony Sage and Brett McKeon announced yesterday that Mitchell had been re-signed for next season and revealed their intention to appoint a director with football experience. “We are about to put a very qualified football director on our board and a lot of consultation has one on with that particular individual,” said Sage, who declined to reveal the name of the new director. Edwards, who resigned from his role as coach of the women’s National Training Centre program at the start of last month, helped the owners in considering the coach for next season before the one-year offer was put to Mitchell.
VICTORY SWOOP TO SIGN WARD
Melbourne Victory has moved quickly to sign Olyroo midfielder Nick Ward following his release from English Championship outfit Queens Park Rangers. Ward’s 18-month stay at Loftus Road came to an abrupt end this week with player and club agreeing to a mutual termination of his contract, paving the way for a return to Australia. It’s a stunning backflip by Ward who less than a week ago vowed to stick it out in Europe. The 22-year old will play out the A-League season with Victory and remain on board for their AFC Champions League campaign.
Ward developed his game at E.C.U. Joondalup, Future Glory and the Australian Institute of Sport before joining Perth Glory in 2004. Loaned out to Stirling Lions for the winter months, he scooped the Gold Medal with a series of sparkling performances in between helping Australia qualify for the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship. Ward collected the inaugural A-League young player of the year award before joining Rangers for whom he made 22 appearances, while he played another eight games while on loan to Brighton and Hove Albion.
JOONDALUP SNAP UP MONTGOMERY
E.C.U. Joondalup have signalled their intentions to challenge for top honours in 2008 by signing State striker Stuart Montgomery. After being courted by a number of clubs it was Joondalup's desire for success that put them on top of Montgomery's list and, ultimately, lead him to ending a six-year association with Western Knights. "The thing that swayed me towards Joondalup was the vision shown by the club," he explained. "The players, coaches and the board have a clear ambition for the club to be successful and to win trophies."
Montgomery is eagerly waiting to pull on a Joondalup shirt for the new season and the challenge of moving the club move up the Premier League table. "Joondalup will be looking to improve on last season and really give the top teams a shake," he said. "On a personal front, I'm really looking forward to playing alongside a quality striker like Ian McMurray, I hope I can learn a few things off him and that we can form a potent strike force for the club."
Family commitments are the primary motivation behind Montgomery's decision to part company with the Knights. "It was a difficult decision as I love the club, but my family has to be my priority," he explained. "I have a young family and all the travel to Nash Field for training and games meant I wasn't spending as much time with my family as I would have liked. So to move five minutes up the road gives me the time I want to be with my wife and kids."
Montgomery leaves the Knights on amicable terms having openly discussed his reasons with the club. "I have the utmost respect for the coaches, Ronnie Campbell and Willie Kelly, and club president George Grasso and they all understand totally my decision," he said. "Ronnie and Willie have had a big influence on my career and if it wasn't for them I wouldn't be playing State League. I'm going to miss both of them, it'll be weird rocking up to training and not having Ronnie cracking his jokes and being all hypo on coca-cola or coffee."
As he embarks on the next stage of his career Montgomery says there is a lot he'll miss about the club at which he's played the past six years. "The supporters are great, they've backed me all along and I'd like to thank them for that," he explained. "I'll miss all the players at the club, they're a terrific bunch and the young guys who have come through in the last few years will do the club proud. And it was a great honour to captain such a great club and follow in the footsteps of Paul McVittie, Carl Medica and Scott Devine."
MITCHELL CONFIRMED AS GLORY COACH
Former Socceroo David Mitchell will coach Perth Glory through to the end of the 2008/09 season. Mitchell was installed in a caretaker capacity last month, but an excellent run of results lead club owners to secure the 45-year olds services on a long-term basis. Since Mitchell took up the reigns Glory have won two and drawn one of their four outings to end what had been an 18 game winless streak. Last weekend’s 3-1 upset win over reigning champion Melbourne Victory convinced co-owners Tony Sage, John Spence and Brett McKeon that Mitchell was the man for the job.
Sage said recent on-field results were only a small part of why the owners wanted to secure the signature of Mitchell sooner rather than later. “When we installed Dave as caretaker coach we had enormous faith in his ability to get the job done and that has been obvious watching the team’s performances in just a short space of time,” Sage said. “We think Dave has all the right ingredients to take Perth to the next level and the announcement of his coaching tenure has been timed as such to allow him ample opportunity to retain and recruit players for next season.”
A number of well-credentialled coaches expressed their interest in the Glory job, however, the owners feel they have secured the right man in Mitchell. “Dave has shown a deep passion for Perth and the future success of the team. He has spoken to us on numerous occasions about his plans for the future and we wholeheartedly share in his vision of building this club into a powerhouse,” said McKeon. Mitchell has already proven he can get the best out of players and his strong network of contacts throughout world football placed him above other contenders.
Mitchell is delighted to secure the head coach role for next season and is confident the recent gains on the pitch are just the start of good things to come for the club. “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working at the club during the past 18 months. The last four weeks as caretaker coach have been challenging yet ultimately rewarding for not just myself but the players, staff and fans,” Mitchell said. “The owners have made a significant commitment and I’m looking forward to cementing my plans for the future and delivering on the ultimate aim of playing finals football and winning a championship.”
Mitchell is keen to keep the current coaching team of himself, Robbie Dunn and Kenny Lowe in place. “It hasn’t been confirmed as yet but it’s a situation where I’ve been happy and it has worked very well,” said Mitchell. “They’re both local lads and have had a really positive influence on the team. The recent results are not just down to me, Robbie and Kenny have come on board and given a huge helping hand as well.” The coaching trio will have virtually a blank canvas when it comes to putting together a squad for next season with only eight of Glory’s 23 players contracted beyond the current term.
Perth Glory captain Simon Colosimo will miss the club’s next two matches after a scans today revealed a small tear in his hamstring. Colosimo was forced from the pitch 57 minutes into Sunday’s home win Melbourne Victory after feeling a twinge in his right leg while taking Glory into attack. “It’s unfortunate because Simon had been doing exceptionally well and playing a real leaders role for us,” said coach Dave Mitchell. “It’s bad timing for him because he has been playing very well and obviously for the club also to loose an influential player and leader for a couple of vital away matches.” Colosimo will miss the upcoming games against Wellington Phoenix and Sydney F.C.
HULL STILL LEARNING : GARCIA
Richard Garcia feels Hull City's lack of experience cost them victory against Cariff City on the weekend. The West Australian's third goal of the season looked like earning the Tigers another three points only for Roger Johnson to equalise with the last kick of the game. Although Hull extended their unbeaten streak to five games, successive draws with Bristol City and Cardiff have seen them slip to tenth on the Championship table.
Garcia says it's important Hull learn to close out games if they want to stay in the hunt for the end of season play-offs. "It's a learning experience that we're all on," Garcia said. "There's a lot of young players in the team and I'm sure the next time a situation like it comes up, we'll deal with it better. I thought we were comfy as the game went on but it's taken a wonder-strike for them to take a point ... It's hard to come away from a game thinking we've got three points and then to only take one."
>From a personal point of view, Garcia was delighted to be back in the starting line-up after missing Hull's past three games. "It was good to be back in the side and it was good to be back on the scoresheet again," he said. "I feel fresh - I've had a little break, which is something the other lads haven't had a chance to have. It's a busy time of year, but we've got enough players wanting to play every game for that not to be a problem."
WARD VOWS TO STAY IN EUROPE
Queens Park Rangers midfielder Nick Ward has dismissed suggestions he’s considering a return to Australia. Ward has only played twice for Rangers in an injury-interrupted season but, despite the setbacks, he remains determined as ever to stay in Europe. “I’ve only been over here a year and a half and, apart from the first few months when I was playing well, I haven’t really played much,” he told Jonathon Cook of the ‘West Australian’ newspaper. “I’ve had a few offers from A-League clubs but I don’t want to go back. I need to stick it out and do it tough a bit longer. It’s not about instant success - you’ve got to grind it out."”
It’s understood a number of A-League clubs, including Perth Glory, Melbourne Victory and Sydney F.C., have made known their interest in bringing the exciting 22-year old back to Australia. But if Ward is to move from Loftus Road, the Netherlands is most likely to be his next port of call. “I’ve always wanted to play there,” said the inaugural A-League young player of the year. “I’ve heard some good things and it’s supposed to be a good place to learn your trade.”
Already, though, Ward has a solid grounding in the treacherous nature of the professional game in England. “What I’ve learnt is unbelievable,” he said. “I’ve learnt how it works in Europe and it’s not a nice place sometimes. It’s not like in Australia where people give you a pat on the back and pump you up, and you’ve got the Football Federation behind you. Over here you’re just another player and if you’re not doing well, or you’re not playing, you can get forgotten.”
Ward said him involvement in the Olyroos qualifying campaign had helped him stay positive despite a lack of game time at club level. “The Olympics has been the shining light,” he said. “With the qualification we had, we went to eight different countries, playing in 35 degrees in one match and then minus three the next. It’s a great achievement for the boys.” In a sign of his commitment to the green and gold, Ward took just two weeks to bounce back from a hernia operation and play in the last two qualifiers against Iraq and DPR (North) Korea.
CHAMPIONS NO MATCH FOR RAMPANT GLORY
Perth Glory moved off the bottom of the A-League table courtesy of a resounding 3-1 defeat of reigning champion Melbourne Victory. A brace from emerging talent Nikita Rukavytsya plus Jamie Harnwell's sixth goal of the campaign thrilled the 8,030 fans who cheered Glory on to victory. Melbourne's reply in a largely ones-sided encounter came via a superb strike from former Glory boy Adrian Caceres. Glory's first win at Members Equity Stadium in over a year dragged the once benchmark club of Australian football off the bottom of the table for the first time since September.
The action came thick and fast in a frantic opening twenty minutes in which both goalkeepers featured heavily. Michael Theoklitos was forced into a desperate block from Nikolai Topor-Stanley’s thumping strike, and just a minute later it was Tando Velaphi who was called upon to react smartly to a low shot by Archie Thompson. James Robinson had a shot blocked on the line by Roddy Vargas, and Jamie Harnwell's spectacular overhead was deflected high by Steve Pantelidis. Glory continued their assault through Rukavytsya fired into the body of Theoklitos after racing on to Simon Colosimo's through ball.
The home crowd were finally given reason to celebrate in the 18th minute when James Downey delivered a pinpoint cross on to the head of Harnwell who arrowed the ball between Theoklitos' out-stretched glove and the corner of the net. Glory's dominance was further rewarded nine minutes later when Rukavytsya cut inside from the right to curl a superb shot past Theoklitos from 15-metres. Melbourne looked nothing like the side that won the championship last season, but on 37 minutes were handed a lifeline as Grant Brebner squared the ball to Caceres whose rocket-like drive from 26-metres flew into the top corner of the net with Velaphi grasping at air.
Substitute Jerry Karpeh wasted no time in making his presence known as less than a minute after the re-start he played the ball to the feet of Rukavytsya who clipped a neat shot over Theoklitos to restore Glory's two-goal buffer. The visitors worked tirelessly to reel in the margin but could open few holes in a defence under the command of Dino Djulbic and Harnwell. Jamie Coyne came to the rescue with a goal line clearance after Velaphi spilled a 77th minute Carlos Hernandez corner, and three minutes from the end Danny Allsopp curled his shot from 15-metres just past the upright with the Glory custodian well beaten.
LAZARIDIS AIMS TO RETURN BY END OF THE MONTH
Perth Glory midfielder Stan Lazaridis has delayed his comeback for at least another fortnight. The former Socceroo had hoped to make his much-anticipated return to football against Melbourne Victory this afternoon, however, those plans have been shelved by a lack of match fitness. “After nearly one year out of the game, two and a half sessions back with the boys just wasn’t enough to sharpen up,” said Lazaridis. “If I was to play this week, or the next, I would probably be limited to only ten or twenty minutes, coming off the bench. It now looks as if I might wait another two or three weeks to make my long-awaited comeback.” Lazaridis is now planning to resume his playing career on 30th December when Glory host Queensland Roar.
SCORING GOALS AT TAFE
The next big thing in Australian football could be a product of Central TAFE who’ve gone into partnership with Football West to establish a football development centre. Based at the Leederville campus, the centre provides students the opportunity to combine football training with Certificate IV qualifications in Sport (Development) and Athlete Support Services. “We want to offer students the opportunity to carry on with their football development after leaving school - and we want to make sure that they have recognised qualifications to fall back on,” said lecturer Dave Evans, a qualified coach who has experience in similar schemes in the U.K. “It is a system which can produce talented athletes able to combine the rigors of training with academic work.”
The course will run over one year, commencing February 2008, and be integrated into the academic timetable. Students will also have the chance to gain coaching qualifications, opening further career opportunities. “There is a concern that we lose good footballers when they leave school so the Central TAFE Development Centre is an ideal way of keeping young people involved, giving them a chance to extend their skill development and education,” said Garry Chandler, chief executive of Football West. “If we can also produce a number of high-quality new coaches in the process, that can only be good for the sport in WA.” Students interested in joining the course should contact Dave Evans on 9202 4920 / 4349.
NO DEAL FOR DADI
Perth Glory’s late attempt to secure striker Eugene Dadi for the remainder of the season have failed at the final hurdle. Glory chiefs are furious Dadi’s Isreali club, Hapoel Acre, did not release the one-time Ivory Coast international before the close of the A-League transfer window yesterday. “Perth Glory is extremely disappointed at the failure of Hapoel Acre to assist Eugene continue his career in the Hyundai A-League,” said chief executive officer Scott Gooch. “It’s a frustrating situation because both the Glory and Eugene wanted to extend his stay in WA but that isn’t feasible now this season. He certainly left a favourable impression and will remain a player of interest in our recruiting for next season.” David Mitchell was keen to add the experienced striker to his squad following an impressive week-long trial with Glory.
MITCHELL TOLD TO PLAN FOR NEXT SEASON
Tony Sage has given the strongest indication yet that David Mitchell will lead Perth Glory into next season. Mitchell’s tenure is guaranteed only until the end of the current campaign but Sage, who owns the club in partnership with John Spence and Brett McKeon, has reveal the coach has been asked to beginning planning for 2008/09. “With Mitch in charge, you will see a completely different look to the squad next year,” Sage said. “He’s been given permission to start looking (at players) now.”
Glory’s ownership group have been impressed by Mitchell’s first few weeks in charge. Despite being without a number of key players, Glory registered their first win of the season under Mitchell as well as a draw and one loss. “We’ve been happy with the way he’s conducted himself and the way the team is going,” Sage added. “We’re happy to let him move forward and get the squad ready for next year in his image.” Sage confirmed the coach for next season was yet to be finalised but that Mitchell’s early performances were a “big tick for him when it comes to announcing the coaching position.”
ADMINISTRATION NOTHING NEW TO LUTON'S COYNE
Luton Town's players are sticking together despite being hit with a 10-point penalty that plunged them to the bottom of League One. The Football League applied the 10-point penalty as a consequence of the Hatters slip into administration last week due to decreasing revenue and mounting liabilities. Club captain Chris Coyne says the players are determined to do everything possible to make the points deduction irrelevant to their season. "The goalposts have been moved, but as a group of players you just want to win every game," he said. "You don't set yourselves any goals."
Financial problems are nothing new to Luton as the long-serving trio of Coyne, Steve Robinson and Matthew Spring know all too well. "We've been through it before and it's something that happened for whatever reason and it's not down to our own doing," said Coyne. "I don't understand the total financial implications as regards the administration - it does mean the budget strings are tightened. All you want to do as a player is go out and play football."
The former Perth S.C. defender said it was still too early to talk about the players deferring their wages, but indicated that they would be prepared to take that step if it was in everybody's best interests. "If it's a short term solution to get the club back on to a sound footing it's something we've got to look at, otherwise we could be unemployed footballers rather than footballers playing for Luton Town," said Coyne, a veteran of close to 250 games for Luton. "It's great when Saturday comes, because you can forget about it and just focus on football."
RUKAVYTSYA SETS OLYMPIC GOAL
Nikita Rukavytsya wants to force his way into the Australian squad for next year's Beijing Olympic Games. Having been drafted into the Olyroos squad at the last minute for the recent qualifiers with Iraq and DPR (North) Korea, the Ukraine-born striker hopes he can make his mark in Perth Glory's remaining seven A-League games. "If I can keep playing well, doing my best in training and performing on the pitch I might get a chance," said the 20-year old. "It's a one in a lifetime opportunity. It's a dream of every player." Rukavytsya scored twice in his last outing for Glory, a 4-1 defeat of Newcastle Jets three weeks ago, and will get a chance to reprise that performance in Sunday's home clash with Melbourne Victory.
LAZARIDIS BACK IN THE MIX
After a year in football’s wilderness Perth Glory star Stan Lazaridis made his long awaited return to training yesterday and immediately set about staking his claim for a place in the line-up for Sunday’s home game with Melbourne Victory. The presence of Glory’s most experienced player gave the session a noticeable lift while the assembled media pack and coaching staff couldn’t help but be impressed as the winger made several searing runs down the left.
Lazaridis is delighted to be back amongst his team mates and is desperate to be a part of the club’s revival over the final seven games of the regular season. “It was really nice to get back into the changerooms and take part in the banter with the lads,” said Western Australia’s best known footballer. “It felt like coming home today, the last year was very lonely and now to be back amongst my team mates and playing the game I love is fantastic.”
Although in good shape, Lazaridis admits he’s not match fit but feels he could play some role for the team this weekend. “I still have a lot of work to do to get back into the team,” he said. “I don’t think I’m far off to be honest, but at the same time I still need some heavy sessions with plenty of challenges to simulate real time play. The answer to being match fit is no. I’ve been running on my own just about every day, so my general fitness is going to be pretty good.”
A year out of the game comes with a silver lining for Lazaridis who declared he had fully recovered from a groin injury that curtailed his impact during his first season back in Perth. “Today was just easing in, and the guys were kind of protective of me,” he said. “By the end of the week I will have a much better idea of how I’m shaping up and I’m sure there won’t be any hesitation on their part to lunge in with a few tackles to see where I am at.”
OLDFIELD LEAVES STAFFORD RANGERS
Football Conference strugglers Stafford Rangers have released assistant manager David Oldfield as part of a round of cost cutting measures. Oldfield, 39, had been with the club for the 18 months and had come out of retirement to make 22 appearances for Rangers. "We have had to look everywhere we can to make savings and, yes, Dave Oldfield is part of the cost cutting," said secretary and financial director Mike Hughes. "It was a painful thing to have to let Dave go, because he is a likeable chap. But the fact is he is a luxury we cannot afford at the moment - we have a manager and we can't afford both him and an assistant." Rangers are currently second-from-bottom in the Blue Square Premier with just nine points from 20 matches.
GLORY TEST EXPERIENCED STRIKER
Triallist Eugine Dadi has impressed in his first training run with Perth Glory. The former Ivory Coast international paid his own way to Perth and, fresh from a spell with Israeli club Hapoel Acre, is hoping to play out the season with Glory. "I'm happy to be here, happy with what I've seen and it's a good club," Dadi said. "Glory gave me the opportunity, I heard about the league and football here and really want to be part of the team and do something good. I was playing in Israel three weeks ago and I'm free now."
Coach David Mitchell has been after a proven goalscorer since taking over from Ron Smith earlier this month and feels Dadi could fit the bill. "He wanted to look at where we train, the boys and the club, we wanted to have a look at him, and something could happen at the end of the week," Mitchell said. "Because he becomes a visa player there's regulations you have to go through, so we will have to sort that out before he can play."
Dadi will spend this week reinforcing his goal-scoring credentials in training before Mitchell decides whether to bid for him. "The opportunity came before the season that we could have looked at him, but unfortunately, we weren't quick enough," Mitchell said. "The opportunity has arisen again, he said he wanted to come over and heard the A-League is a good league and wanted to try out. As we were still looking for someone, it could be a perfect match."
Dadi began his career by joining the football academy at French club Sochaux at the age of 15. Spells at Stade Lavallois (France), LASK Linz (Austria) and Toulouse (France) followed before a season with each Aberdeen and Livingston in Scotland's top flight. In 2003 he joined English League One outfit Tranmere Rovers where he'd play 86 games and scored 32 goals over two seasons. Time at Nottingham Forest and Notts County preceded his move to Hapoel Acre.
GARCIA PREPARED TO SCRAP FOR PLACE
Hull City striker Richard Garcia admits he “faces a fight” to get back into Phil Brown's starting eleven after returning from Australia. Garcia was an ever-present in the Tigers starting line-up this season until a fortnight ago when he headed back to Perth to visit his unwell father. While away his place was taken by Stephen McPhee, but now he’s back at the KC Stadium Garcia is ready to battle for his shirt after playing off the bench against Scunthorpe on the weekend. “I face a fight to get back into the team, but it’s a good fight,” he said. “It’s good to know that other players are waiting, desperate to come into the side and play. Macca has come in and done really well and now it’s my turn to do the same and fight my way back into the team. Despite coming off the bench, I enjoyed the win on Saturday all the same. It was just nice to be back playing again, even though it was really cold!”
LAZARIDIS REJOINS TEAM MATES
Stan Lazaridis will finally return to training today following the Football Federation Australia imposed twelve-month ban for testing positive to the hair loss drug finasteride. Prevented from training as well as playing, Lazaridis has been limited to social kickabouts with former players to attempt to keep his fitness up. And while Glory fans will be desperate for Lazaridis' immediate return against Melbourne Victory this weekend, coach David Mitchell is keeping his options open.
Mitchell admitted to feeling some pressure to pick his star recruit straight away, however, Lazaridis' fitness levels will determine whether he plays any role against Melbourne. "A player of his quality coming back into the side will be great. We have just to see how Stan is fitness wise, because he hasn't trained with us," Mitchell said. "Whether he will be fit enough to take part this weekend, I am not sure, it will be great to have him in the squad."
DE VANNA CROWNED SPORTSWOMAN OF THE YEAR
Australian international Lisa De Vanna capped a stellar year by becoming the first footballer to be crowned the ‘West Australian’ Sportswoman of the Year. De Vanna, the star of the Matildas World Cup campaign in China, joins an illustrious list of Olympic and world champions which includes Rechelle Hawkes, Elspeth Denning, Jill McIntosh and Shelley Taylor-Smith to have won the much sought after award.
Only days after celebrating her 23rd birthday, De Vanna edged out Matildas team mate Collette McCallum on the strength of her place in the FIFA’s All-Stars team and nomination for the World Player of the Year. De Vanna and McCallum both played key roles in Australia’s historic World Cup appearance that took the national women’s through to the quarter-final stage for the first time.
De Vanna, who has represented Australia on 48 occasions, says her achievement was attributable to Australia’s success in China. “The team has now been together for a few years and is finally starting to see the reward of their hard work,” she said. “We went tot he World Cup determined to win and showed for the first time that Australia has the ability to be a force in world football.”
TOUGH DRAW FOR SOCCEROOS
Australia have been handed no favours in the preliminary draw for the 2010 World Cup after being placed in the Asian confederation's 'group of death' for the initial stage of qualifiers. The Socceroos were slotted into the toughest of the region's five groups alongside Asian Cup champions Iraq, China and Qatar. All four Group One teams are ranked in the Asian region's top ten.
The four nations meet each other twice next year, both home and away, with Australia's campaign commencing on 6th February. Twenty nations contest the third stage, with that number whittled down to ten for the fourth stage which begins in October 2007. Only the top four Asian teams gain direct qualification to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, with the fifth-best team to play off against the winner of Oceania for the final spot in the 32-team tournament.
GLORY REVEAL DETAILS OF MANCHESTER LINK
The on and off field benefits of Perth Glory’s unique partnership deal with English Premier League side Manchester City will be far reaching for the West Australian club according to co-owner John Spence. “I passionately believe that alliances like this will become commonplace if clubs want to take full advantage of their place in the world game,” said Spence, who played a vital role in ensuring Glory was part of the seven-club alliance. “Football is growing so rapidly that only by sharing skills, resources and expertise will clubs be able to realise their full potential.”
Spence identified eight key areas in which Glory will benefit from the worldwide alliance. These include the loan of players amongst the seven clubs, player trials, friendlies and pre-season games, cross marketing opportunities, the establishment of academies, sharing of coaching and administration resources and expertise, and global credibility. Other than Glory, the alliance clubs are Manchester City (England), Shanghai Shenhua (China), Thanda Royal Zulu (South Africa), FC Moscow (Russia), Grasshoppers (Switzerland) and Chonburi FC (Thailand).
The loan of players will assist the alliance clubs fill gaps in playing rosters caused by injury, suspension and national team duty. “There are three Thai Internationals that are free agents for the next few weeks and we’re looking to possibly bring one or two of them down to Perth,” said Spence. “Going forward we’ll be able to get more players, including some who are vying for first team spots with Man City.”
The network of clubs gives Glory’s players an avenue to trial and showcase their talents to clubs from abroad. “This is a wonderful opportunity for our current players and also will be a key selling point when attracting new players to the club,” Spence said. “I believe it will be a great catalyst in the decision making process when a player is looking to sign. In the short term Man City representatives will be coming to Perth to look at what we’re doing and the players we have on our books.”
All seven clubs in the alliance are committed to playing friendly and pre-season games against each other, including some in Perth. “Manchester City is keen to bring a team to Western Australia and it will be a terrific for all football fans in Perth to see an English Premier League team in their own back yard,” Spence said. “Also under discussion is an opportunity to hold a competition against the other teams in the alliance.”
Cross marketing opportunities will provide each club in the alliance to further opportunities build their football brand. Manchester City chairman Thaksin Shinawatra has revealed his desire to see his club take a position as one of the world’s biggest football brands and he is determined to ensure that all clubs in the alliance are part of that winning football culture. “The A-League has a strong presence in Asia through the Asian Champions League and our links with clubs in that part of the world will be a bonus for us to promote our brand,” Spence said.
Development academies have already been announced in Thailand and China. The next academy will be in Goa, India, in collaboration between Manchester City, Glory and Spence’s company Karma Resorts. “India is a largely untapped football development area and with their massive population there will be many exciting prospects from the country,” Spence said. “Closer to home we’re expecting an academy to be running in Perth in the future and Perth Glory will be a major beneficiary of the emerging talent to come through that program.”
Glory will tap into the coaching and administrative resources and expertise of Manchester City to ensure best practice is used in Western Australia. “One of the problems with a relatively small set-up like Perth is that you have a limited budget and resources,” Spence said. “On a coaching front a team like Manchester City has a terrific set-up with state of the art sports science facilities which enable them to develop techniques to aid in performance and recovery and we will have access to this information.”
Glory will be seen as the team of choice in Australia as supporters of each of the seven alliance clubs become exposed to the Glory brand. “I can’t tell you how proud it made me to log onto the Manchester City website and see the Perth Glory name there with details about the club,” Spence said. “I’ve also had the opportunity to talk with Sven-Goran Eriksson and he is genuinely excited about the prospects of this alliance.”
MCCALLUM HELPS NEWCASTLE TO VICTORY
Newcastle have won the opening match of the inaugural women’s A-League Challenge with a 4-2 win over Sydney F.C. in an entertaining clash at EnergyAustralia Stadium. West Australian midfielder Collette McCallum, one of eleven Matildas on show, was amongst the goals for Newcastle. A good crowd was on hand in perfect sunny conditions to see Sydney go ahead after just 3 minutes via Heather Garriock’s superb chip from 25-metres. Newcastle equalised with an equally impressive long-range effort from Caitlin Munoz in the 15th minute, then McCallum swung the ball into the bottom corner from 25-metres. Katie Gill put Newcastle’s third on the board early in the second half, then added a fourth to the tally on 71 minutes. Leena Khamis brought some respectability to the score line from a Sydney perspective with a late strike.
I ALMOST QUIT : LAZARIDIS
Stan Lazaridis came within a whisker of walking away from football during his enforced twelve months out of the game. A Football Federation Australian imposed ban prevented Lazaridis from playing and training after he returned a positive test for finasteride, a hair loss treatment which is also considered a masking agent by the World Anti Doping Agency. And while he returns to the training track this week, the former Socceroo says he was tempted to call it quits. “There was a period about four months ago when I seriously considered giving the game away,” he said. “I was concentrating on other things in life and I was forced to consider whether professional football was still for me.”
Thankfully, Lazaridis decided he did not want a glittering career to end that way and is now leaning towards playing on again next season. “Ultimately, the desire to finish some unfinished business and make a contribution to this football club drove me. It’s really hurt having the game you love, and have played for almost every day for the past 20 years, taken away so suddenly,” he explained. “I’m champing at the bit to get out there, and I’m feeling as if I want to play on next season. Some may think it’s a big call, at 35 years of age, but the fire still burns inside me. In fact, the personal motivation to perform is as high as it’s been for a long time.”
HARNWELL TO THE RESCUE
A second half header by man of the moment Jamie Harnwell earned Perth Glory a fighting 1-1 draw with Adelaide United in last night’s A-League meeting at Hindmarsh Stadium. Harnwell’s fifth goal of the season was a fitting reward on a night he wore the captain’s armband in recognition of his 200th game for the club. And he complemented a typically passionate performance by rising highest to head in a Mitchell Prentice free-kick midway through the second half. “I guess fate was on my side and I managed to get a head to the ball at the right time and it went in,” said Harnwell, whose family made a surprise trip to Adelaide for his milestone match. “I thought to myself before the match that a goal would be a great way to remember my 200th game and I’m delighted it worked out that way. It’s nice to get a point because the boys worked their socks off tonight and we had plenty of good opportunities in the second half. I think we’re unlucky not to be coming away with all three points.”
A physical first half belonged to Adelaide who weathered an early Glory onslaught before establishing control. But as has been the recent trend, the Reds struggled to win the aerial contests despite getting plenty of quality balls into the 18-yard box. Travis Dodd’s delivery from the left found Paul Agostino whose shot was desperately blocked by Harnwell, while Lucas Pantelis headed high from an Agostino cross. Dez Giraldi then did his best to inspire his team mates with a spectacular overhead kick which forced a save from Tommi Tomich. Dino Djulbic and Ante Kovacevic were outstanding at the back for Glory, but six minutes from the break that partnership was broken when Kovacevic was forced off the field suffering a hamstring injury. Adelaide had the lead within a minute as Robert Cornthwaite fed the ball into the path of Alagich who waltzed past Naum Sekulovski before stroking his shot across Tomich and into the net off the far post.
Glory emerged for the second half firing on all cylinders as Nikita Rukavytsya volleyed high from a James Robinson flick on. James Downey was proving a handful for the home side with a string of crosses, one of which was met at the far post by Mark Lee who, unfortunately, dragged his shot wide. Adelaide went close on 67 minutes with a neat one-two between Agostino and Shaun Ontong after which the latter blasted high from 9-metres. Glory deservedly equalised on 69 minutes when Harnwell got in between Milan Susak and Angelo Costanzo to head over the outstretched gloves of Eugene Galekovic. Adelaide were almost handed the lead a couple of minutes later when Giraldi’s cross was cut out by Lee who headed just wide of his own goal. Simon Colosimo lifted a shot high from 15-metres as Glory sniffed a chance of victory. However, it was the hosts which had the better late chances as Tomich kept out strikes from Pantelis and Alagich, while substitute Issy Erdogan found the net only for referee Peter O’Leary to rule it out for an earlier foul.
HARNWELL JOINS 200 GAME CLUB
Jamie Harnwell will become only the third Perth Glory player to make 200 appearances for the club when he runs onto Hindmarsh Stadium this evening. Few players can claim to have put more passion and pride into their performances for the club than Harnwell, who joined Glory in 1998. Now in his ninth season, Harnwell is just hours away from joining Scott Miller (227 games) and Bobby Despotovski (241 games) in an elite group of Glory champions. "They're legends of the club and I don't know if I can claim to be quite at that status," commented Harnwell humbly. "They have both achieved so much in the game and I'm honoured to be in their company but I consider myself just a step below them."
A Glory fans could forget Harnwell's long-range bomb against arch rivals Wollongong Wolves in 2001, however, for the 30-year old the highlights of a glittering career come in the form of back-to-back championships. "Holding the championship trophy is a magnificent feeling and definitely the key moments in my career so far," Harnwell said. "The Glory had a fantastic team, a great bunch of fans and to play in front of more than 40,000 of them at Subiaco Oval was a very special occasion. It's the kind of thing that stays with you forever and I hope that the new group of players here at Glory are able to experience that as well, I'd certainly like to be part of it with them again."
While championships and captaincy have been his reward, there has also been tough times including a battle for a regular berth in the starting line-up this season. "I suppose at the start of the season I wasn't sure if I would achieve 200 games, so to be playing this game is going to be fantastic and I'm really looking forward to it," Harnwell said. "When you're not playing or coming in and out of the side you don't know what is going to happen. I just set about making the most of my opportunities and putting in the hard work at training and was confident the rewards would come and it has done."
The defender turned striker confident of adding to his games tally for several seasons to come. "Physically I feel fantastic and I'd hope that I could play for another three years at least. I'll sit down with the club in the next month or two and sort out a future plan," he said. Harnwell made a name for himself on the local scene with Sorrento and Kingsway Olympic before signing with Glory. Since 1998 he's figured in three National Soccer League premierships and savoured the taste of Grand Final victory on two occasions. Having played his entire career in defence, Harnwell has adapted well to his new role as a goalscorer in recent years.
CHANCE FOR MATILDAS DUO TO SCORE DECISIVE GOAL
Lisa De Vanna and Collette McCallum will be hoping to create history when the 'West Australian' Sportswoman of the Year is announced today. The Matilda's duo are amongst eight finalists for the award being presented today at the Esplanade Hotel in Fremantle. Former winners include Olympic and world champions from a wide representation of sports, but no footballer has come close - until now.
At just 21, McCallum represents the future of the women's game in Australia. Her creativity in midfield played a major role in Australia's qualifying for the quarterfinals of the Women's World Cup during September. McCallum, capped 35 times for Australia, scored one of the goals of the tournament with a stunning free-kick from 25-metres against Canada. Earlier this month she was named second runner-up in the Asian Football Confederation Player of the Year.
De Vanna spearheaded the Australian attack in China, scoring four goals in as many outings. The 22-year old's ability to take on and beat opposing players as well as a keen eye for goal were rewarded at tournaments' end with a place in the FIFA Women's World Cup All-Stars team. De Vanna, capped 48 times by Australia, is the only Australian in contention for the FIFA World Player of the Year which is being presented late next month.
KARPEH EARNS HIS SHOT AT GLORY
Golden Boot winner Boima ‘Jerry’ Karpeh completed a remarkable transformation from refugee to professional footballer when he signed a contract to play for Perth Glory for the rest of the 2007/08 season. Karpeh’s appearance for Glory against Central Coast Mariners last Sunday marked the high point on a long road that started in Liberia, where he was born, and took him through refugee camps in Nigeria before his family arrived in Australia seven years ago. “I just want to prove myself,” said the 23-year old. “I’m ready and focused. I’ll just work my guts out and try to get something out of it.”
In seven years the muscular striker has climbed through the tans of the local scene, starting in the reserves with Perth S.C. before moving to Dianella White Eagles, Bayswater City, Fremantle City and finally Floreat Athena, who benefited from his 25 goals to land the Premier League title. Before he arrived in Perth, Karpeh, who was six when he moved to Nigeria with his dad Bill, mum Meatta and sister Patience, immersed himself in the world game. “We used to play on really hard rough ground,” he said. “Some of the time we played barefoot and just get a ball to play with was very hard”
Things have been easier since the arrival in WA, though recognition has been had to come by. Still, Karpeh was unable to land a Glory contract and recently had an unsuccessful trial with Newcastle Jets. But his luck changed when David Mitchell replaced Ron Smith as coach of Glory. “I’m training every day now and it means I can just concentrate on football,” he said. “I’m home and playing in front of the people I know.”
TODARO APPOINTED TO BALCATTA TOP JOB
Respected coach Salv Todaro has taken the helm of First Division outfit Balcatta. Todaro guided Bayswater City to the First Division championship in 2003 and took Ashfield to second place in each of the past two seasons. He takes over from Basil Lenzo who cited business and family commitments for his recent decision to step aside.
Todaro, who spent seven seasons with Balcatta as a player, is exciting by the prospect of returning to Graham Burkett Reserve. “The direction, goals and ambition of the club for the next couple of years and beyond was very appealing,” he explained. “The committee have a three-to-five year development plan which sounds very exciting and the opportunity to be part of this was too simply too much for me to turn down.”
Balcatta completed the recent season near the foot of the table and Todaro is looking forward to the job ahead. “One of the major area needing work is to bring confidence back to the club and the players after a season where is took a bit of a battering,” he said. “Although very early days, we will be looking at finishing in the top half of table next year and also push some of the younger players through into the first team.”
LINCOLN UP FOR THE CHALLENGE
Paul Lincoln will draw on his vast knowledge of the game in attempting to guide Swan I.C. into rarely chartered waters next year. Swan have hardly set the league on fire since re-entering the top flight in 2000, finishing in the bottom half of the table on seven occasions, but that record doesn’t phase Lincoln who is excitedly looking forward to his first senior coaching appointment. “I’m really looking forward to the new challenge and I believe I’ve a lot to offer the club,” said the new Swan boss.
Lincoln will have the familiar face of Carlo Scali, who stepped aside recently for work reason, by his side during this first senior coaching appointment. “With Carlo remaining at the club as my assistant it will make it an easier transition for me as he has a good understanding of the first team players,” explained Lincoln. “We’ve also appointed former-Swan player Gary Mateljan as the under-18’s coach, he’s been in football a long time and will add experience to the group. Mick Da Re, who was outstanding with the 18’s last season, will takeover the under-23’s.”
With the new season fast approaching, Lincoln has been busy formulating his plans for 2008. “I’ve spoken to a number of players who I believe will strength our squad,” he commented. “We hope to retain most of last season’s squad, and we’ll welcome back the likes of David Foster, Geoff Mason and Danyal Bennett who missed most of last season due to injuries. We have an intense fitness routine in place for the pre-season - I want players to be able to run out games next year - and I believe we’ll have a squad that’ll be competitive. I’m confident you’ll see a much-improved Swan side in 2008.”
OLYROOS SEAL OLYMPIC SPOT WITH DRAW
Australia booked their place at next year's Olympic Games with a 1-1 draw against DPR (North) Korea in Pyongyang this evening. The point was enough to guarantee Australia top spot in Group A regardless of the outcome of Iraq's game with Lebanon tonight. The Olyroos showed plenty of character in coming from a goal down with captain Mark Milligan scoring the vital equaliser midway through the second period. Qualification for Beijing maintained Australia's impressive appearance record of playing at all six Oylmpic tournaments since 1988.
It was obvious early that it was going to be a long night for Australia who struggled to get to grips with the artificial, icy playing surface. North Korea's focus on playing a long ball game paid dividends on 10 minutes when Pak Chol Min edged in between Mark Milligan and Danny Vukovic to neatly lob the home side into the lead. Shots rained down on the Australian goal for the remainder of the half, however, wasteful finishing in and around the 18-yard box would prove costly for North Korea. The Olyroos best chance came on 35 minutes when James Troisi's stinging shot was parried by the 'keeper.
Australia came back into the game after the interval, holding possession for lengthy periods and applying sustained pressure to a tiring opponent. The equaliser arrived on 67 minutes when Kristian Sarkies floated a free-kick to the back post where Milligan headed the ball back across goal where it struck the upright and crossed the line. Clearly deflated, North Korea threw caution to the wind by attacking at every opportunity, but Australia were having none of it and by slowing the pace maintained control until the final whistle.
GLORY TO WIDEN TIES WITH GIANT
English Premier League side’s Manchester City could play pre-season games in Perth as part of their affiliation with Perth Glory. The Manchester club last week confirmed they had forged links with six clubs, including Glory, to extend their global reach through player exchange, sharing of marketing and sponsorship opportunities and establishing regional academies. Also in partnership with City are Shanghai Shenhua (China), Thanda Royal Zulu (South Africa), FC Moscow (Russia), Grasshoppers (Switzerland) and Chonburi FC (Thailand).
Glory co-owner John Spence said it was likely matches would be hosted by one or two of the alliance clubs each year on a rotational basis. “One of the key parts of the deal is they are very keen on coming and playing individual warm-up games and also as part of a pre-season Cup type competition with the various clubs that form the partnerships,” he commented. However, Spence added that it was too early to say when local fans could expect to see Glory in action against City, with the other clubs also keen to host the Premier League giants.
KILKELLY TAKES UP MORLEY POSTING
Morley Windmills have installed former Leicester City player Tom Kilkelly as first team coach for 2008. Kilkelly will be looking to build on the successes of last year when Brad Hassell, who last week accepted an offer to coach Armadale, took the club to a respectable mid-table placing. “I can’t wait to get my teeth in to the job at Morley,” said Kilkelly. “They did well last season under Brad finishing sixth, and I hope to carry on the good work he achieved.
While he’s been in the job little over a week, Kilkelly has jumped head first into his new position. “I’ve spoken to most of the Morley players from last season and they all seem very enthusiastic,” commented Kilkelly, who’ll be assisted next year by former Morley player James Herbert. “We’ve had no defections as yet, but I’m sure Brad will talk to a number of players to join him at Armadale, which is fair enough. And I’ve spoken to a number of players for next season and are hopeful they will join us.”
It’s been a long time since Morley last graced the top flight, and even longer since their last trophy capture, but Kilkelly will be pulling out all the stops to see them reclaim their place amongst the State’s elite. “I’ll be doing my best to get the club heading in the right direction and that’s back to the Premier League,” he said. “When I arrived from the UK Morley were a big club, winning the Premier League and Cups, but they have been through the bad times and thankfully they have come out of that. I hope to be able to help them move forward.”
Kilkelly spent last season at Armadale where he was assistant to Billy Russell. The pair dramatically resigned their posts only last month in response to ‘outside interference’ which came to a head after Reserve team coach Byron Wood was asked to leave. “Someone in the club had interfered in our space,” explained Kilkelly. “Billy and I pondered our decision for a number of weeks and thought if we didn’t make a stand then it might happen again next season so we both decided to leave. It was sad to leave Armadale but at the end of the day it was a matter of principle.”
Although only at Alfred Skeet Oval for only a year, Kilkelly says he has plenty of fond memories from his short stay with the club. “It was a great crack at Armadale and the people down there were really down to earth and we had some really good times,” he commented. “It was great on a Thursday night after training, sitting on the veranda with a beer watching the stars in the sky, and watching Billy, Mark Culverwell and Bully (Byron Wood) demolish the clubs famous BFC, it truly was something to behold.”
Kilkelly had nothing but praise for Armadale’s players who worked tirelessly in a difficult year. “The players were great, and one thing that will definitely go in my memoirs is I was at Armadale when Darryl Platten scored a goal,” joked Kilkelly. “It was also terrific to see some of the younger lads grow up through the season. Stephen Skilandis and Marlon Ramirez were quiet as door mouses at the start but by the end they were taking the mickey out of the senior players, both those boys matured a lot last season and were great for us late on.”
GLORY BOSS OUT FOR ONE GAME
David Mitchell will have to make his tactical moves from the stands this Friday after being handed a one-game touchline suspension by the A-League match review panel. The Perth Glory coach received the mandatory suspension after accidentally kicking a water bottle onto the pitch during the first half of the weekend loss to Central Coast Mariners. “I’ll cop it on the chin and move on,” Mitchell said. “I actually thought the bottle was full but it was empty and went a bit further than I expected and I certainly didn’t mean for it to go on the pitch.”
Mitchell will be forced to sit in the stands for the upcoming clash with Adelaide United at Hindmarsh Stadium. He’ll take a birds-eye view of the action and maintain in constant contact with assistants Robbie Dunn and Kenny Lowe on the bench by using a walkie-talkie. “I don’t think it’ll be a major disadvantage and I’m just concentrating on preparing the team for what will be a big game against Adelaide,” Mitchell said. Although Glory will be without five players still on international duty with the Australian Olympic team, they do welcome back Leo Bertos from playing for New Zealand as well as Jamie Coyne after serving a two week suspension.
LOCAL TALENT DOES THE JOB
The introduction of David Micevski midway through the second half of Perth Glory’s home game with Central Coast Mariners on Sunday took the number of local players on the pitch to seven. In fact, Glory played the final half hour with a backline consisting of players drawn from the local ranks - Tommi Tomich, Mark Lee, Ante Kovacevic, Dino Djulbic and Micevski. And with Jamie Harnwell partnering Boima Karpeh up front, Glory had the greatest number of local players on the field since their debut season.
David Mitchell admits to being impressed by the standard of State League players after inviting a dozen of its’ finest to train with Glory last week. “I have made an effort to watch Football West Premier League games at every chance I get and there are some very good players coming through that I’m sure will make the step to the Glory in the future,” commented the Perth Glory coach. With his side stretched by injury, suspension and international duties, Mitchell had Kovacevic, Lee and Karpeh registered in time for the Mariners game.
Kovacevic and Lee slotted nicely into the starting line-up while Karpeh ruffled a few feathers when added late in the game. “Ante added some experience in our defence, particularly with Jamie Harnwell playing up front, and he marshaled the defence well against the dangerous attacking line-up of Central Coast,” Mitchell said. “Mark is a hard worker and enjoyed another good season in the local league. He fitted well into the team which is critical in achieving that understanding with his team mates on the pitch at short notice.”
KOVACEVIC CONSIDERS A-LEAGUE OPTION
Perth Glory will consider extending the contract of Ante Kovacevic after the veteran defender's stellar display in Sunday's loss to Central Coast Mariners. Kovacevic retired from national league football at the end of last season after being told his services were no longer required by Glory, only to be lured back after a spate of injuries, suspensions and international call-ups left the club with just eleven players. And the 33-year old returned in grand style, quelling the influence of goalscoring machines John Aloisi and Sasho Petrovski in a full 90 minutes on the pitch.
Glory coach David Mitchell said that with five players away on international duty next week the club would look at retaining Kovacevic in the side, possibly for the remainder of the season. "He's the ultimate professional," Mitchell said. "He's had an outstanding season playing in the State League and it was unfortunate for us to let him go at the start of the year. When Ron (Smith) and I were looking at the side we had to make openings available and unfortunately Ante was one. But you just saw his class today and his composure and his communication skills were first class, and he's been sorely missed really."
Kovacevic, who helped Floreat Athena to the Premier League title during the winter, said he was eager to play out the season with the Glory. "Well physically I feel I can," he said. "I hate seeing the club in the predicament it's in at the moment and if I can do my part I would play on. I'd love to and once again it depends on who's available and who's not. It's a wait and see game I suppose. I suppose there's eight games left and if we can work out an arrangement for the next eight weeks it might be a possibility. I've had a full season under my belt in the State League. I still love playing the game and if it was up to me I'd still be playing professionally."
FOXE BACK IN THE HUNT
Former English Premier League defender Hayden Foxe has set his sights on making his long-awaited A-League debut in Perth Glory's home meeting with Melbourne Victory on 2nd December. Foxe’s target date coincides with the first game Stan Lazaridis is eligible to play after his 12-month ban for testing positive to a drug he was later cleared to take. And in a further boost for Glory, goalkeeper Jason Petkovic could also be available for the Victory clash after his long absence recovering from a broken leg.
Foxe, was frustrated by foot injuries in the latter part of his eight-year overseas career, made just one pre-season Cup appearance for Glory before damaging knee ligaments in a training mishap early in August. But he has slowly worked his way back to fitness and hopes to begin full training with the squad this week. "I want to get a couple of weeks of full training under my belt, see how it goes, and I hope to be ready for the Melbourne game," Foxe said.
The past few months have been tough going for Foxe who returned to Australia hoping to start a fresh chapter in an injury-hampered career. "I've had plenty of experience at this type of thing," he said. "And there are always people a lot worse off. At the end of the day it's an injury and it's going to get better. Some people are different and if they're injured or suspended they can't stand watching games. But I like to be around the place and to keep in touch with the boys and with what’s going on."
Foxe's presence had a positive effect on the players around him during training and the 73 minutes he played in his only Glory appearance against Adelaide United. However, the former Portsmouth and West Ham United player is not willing to speculate on the impact of his absence and that of Lazaridis. "The boys have been so unlucky in some of the games but there have been some dodgy results as well when we haven't played well. That's always going to happen," he said. "With some more experienced players out there we might've got some points but you really don't know."
HURDLE TOO HIGH FOR GLORY
A mass of absentees proved too much for Perth Glory as Central Coast Mariners ran out 1-0 winners at Members Equity Stadium this evening. Greg Owens stunning strike from 20-metres early in the first half was enough to restore the Mariners four point lead on the A-League table, and leave Glory requiring a miracle to feature in the finals series. Glory coach David Mitchell, who was sent to the stands in the 31st minute for kicking a water bottle on to the pitch in frustration, had only praise for his players. “I think we created enough chances to win the game, let alone draw,” he commented. “I think the first 20 minutes we were all at sea and they scored the goal and after that we created quite a few chances. In the second half we dominated the game but again we didn’t capitalise on the chances we created.”
A free-flowing opening produced chances for both teams with Tom Pondeljak curling the ball narrowly wide after a couple of minutes, and shortly after Jamie Harnwell fired straight at Matthew Trott from a James Robinson long-ball. The breakthrough came on 12 minutes as Dean Heffernan’s cross from the left was tamed by Sasho Petrovski who laid the ball back for Owens to lash into the far bottom corner. Glory’s response was to take things up a notch and midway through the period Michael Prentice’s free-kick was met by Harnwell whose header was superbly tipped away by Trott. Tommi Tomich prevented the visitors from increasing their lead with a fantastic double save in the 29th minute to deny John Aloisi, then Owens. Not to be outdone, Trott pulled off another stellar save shortly before half-time to deny Simon Colosimo at 9-metres.
The second half began largely without incident as both defences quickly snuffed out any danger. The first opportunity came the via Mile Jedinak whose long-range strike flew high of the crossbar. Glory didn’t spark back into life until midway through the half when substitute Boima Karpeh combined with Robinson to set up Mitchell Prentice whose was thwarted by the outstretched glove of Trott. Harnwell nodded just the wrong side of the post from a David Micevski cross as the home side sought to get back on level terms. And Coloismo should have done much better than stab wide following the approach work of Robinson. The Mariners went down to ten men on 88 minutes with the dismissal of Jedinak for a second yellow card. Colosimo continued his luckless run in front of goal by failing to capitalise after Trott had only managed to get a soft punch on Mark Lee’s dangerous cross in stoppage time.
OLYROOS ON THE VERGE OF BEIJING QUALIFICATION
Australian took a giant step towards qualifying for next years Olympic Games with a deserved 2-0 win over group rivals Iraq at Bluetongue Central Coast Stadium. Goals from central defensive partners Adrian Leijer and Mark Milligan sealed victory for Australia who move three points clear of Iraq. The Olyroos require a single point from their final group fixture, against North Korea on Wednesday, to secure their place at the Beijing tournament
A defensive error after 3 minutes presented the games first chance to Mark Bridge who forced a sharp save from goalkeeper Mohammed Kadhum. Australia continued to press down the flanks with Ruben Zadkovich, James Troisi and Nikolai Topor-Stanley combining well down the left. Their persistence was rewarded in the 19th minute when Leijer fired in from 8-metres after Iraq failed to clear a Kristian Sarkies free-kick. Australia continued to have the better of play but Iraq almost snatched an equaliser just before half time when Danny Vukovic parried a shot by Samer Mujbel and Trent McClenahan mopped up the danger.
Iraq came out attacking at the start of the second half but could find few ways through their hosts defence. The pivotal moment came on 58 minutes when Sarkies delivered a fine free-kick to the far post where Milligan powered his header in from close-range. The closest Iraq came to scoring was through a rebound off the knee of Topor-Stanley that shaved the post. The introduction of several substitutes allowed Australia to control the final fifteen minutes in which Sarkies, Nick Ward and David Williams all going close to adding a third to their tally.
CARNEY STUNNER GIVES SOCCEROOS THE EDGE OVER NIGERIA
A magnificent goal from David Carney has earned Australia a 1-0 win over Nigeria at Craven Cottage in London. Carney's 52nd minute strike continued his amazing rise with the national team and secured for the Socceroos a well deserved win against a Nigerian side ranked 19th in the world. With news that Dick Advocaat had backed out on an agreement to coach Australia, the win provided a timely boost for the Socceroos who commence their qualification campaign for the 2010 World Cup in early February.
Scott McDonald spurned a great early opportunity when he headed wide a pin-point cross from Carney. Brett Emerton forced the first of a string of saves from goalkeeper Aiyenuga by curling a free-kick around the defensive wall. Aiyenuga made a fine double save to deny Kewell then McDonald as Australia continued to probe away at the Nigeria defence. The Super Eagles almost took the lead on the half hour when Obafemi Martins shot deflected off Danny Shittu and was pushed on to the crossbar by Mark Schwarzer. Aiyenuga acrobatically turned Nick Carle's long-range strike over the crossbar, while close to the break Schwarzer was forced into a smart response by Osaze Odemwingie.
The Socceroos were immediately on the front foot after the interval when Carney fired straight at Aiyenuga from an acute angle. The deadlock was broken shortly after when Carney took possession 25-metres out and, after taking one touch, unleashed a swerving shot that left Aiyenugba grasping at air. Carle was then denied by a first class save by Aiyenugba, while Luke Wilkshire was just wide to a shot from the edge of the 18-yard box. Nigeria was playing mostly on the counter-attack and through one such move Schwarzer prevented Martins from equalising. A stoppage time exchange between McDonald and Carle lead to a chance for the latter who was thwarted by Aiyenugba.
SORRENTO DOWN BRITISH ARMY
Sorrento came from behind to defeat British Army team Royal Logistic Corps 2-1 in a friendly played at Percy Doyle Reserve on Thursday evening. Playing with the breeze at their backs, Sorrento made much of the early running but managed to open up few holes in a resolute defence. However, Royal Logistics were soon into stride and on 31 minutes went ahead as Mike Boon put in a low pass which Mark Biggs turned past Neil Young. Parity was restored just eight minutes later when Todd Harnwell was fouled by goalkeeper Rob Durrant, and Steve McDonald made no mistake from the penalty spot. The second half was seven minutes old when Scott Neville swung in the cross which McDonald tamed before volleying past Durrant. The small but appreciative crowd were kept entertained as the two sides traded attacks for the remainder of the game before referee Steve Muldoon signalled victory to Sorrento.
WARD SEES OFF INJURY IN OLYMPIC QUEST
Olyroos midfielder Nick Ward followed a path worn by England international Michael Owen to ensure he'd be available for tomorrow night's critical qualifier against Iraq. Ward, who plays for London club Queens Park Rangers, has made a swift recovery from a hernia operation only fifteen days ago. "Normally you would be out for about four weeks after an operation like that," Ward said yesterday. "But there is a woman in Germany who is one of the top surgeons in Europe in her field and I was directed to her. It was just by word of mouth that I heard about her. Michael Owen went to her and so have plenty of other footballers. If I'd had it done in England I wouldn't have recovered in time for this game, but I needed to get back quickly so I arranged to have it done by her. They said she was good and they were right - I'm back as quick as she said I would be."
Ward has not seen a great deal of game time this season because of injuries and a fall-out with previous Rangers boss John Gregory. He aims to fight his way back into the starting side after Australia's campaign for a place at next year's Beijing Olympics ends with Wednesday's away game against North Korea. "Injuries have been killing me this season," he said. "But now we've got a new owner and a new manager and perhaps those changes will help make a change of luck for me at the club. I'm hoping that after these two games with the Olyroos I can go back and get a few games for QPR and show the new people in charge what I can do. It's a tricky time ...in the January transfer window the club could go out and buy virtually a whole new team with the resources they've got. I've got to assess my future over the next few months, so hopefully the Olyroos matches will get me rolling again."
RUKAVYTSYA EARNS AUSTRALIAN CALL-UP
A starring role in Perth Glory’s first win of the season has resulted in an international call-up for Ukraine-born Nikita Rukavytsya. The 20-year old was added to the Australian squad for the upcoming Olympic Games qualifier with Iraq after scoring twice and having a hand in Glory’s remaining goals of their 4-1 dismantling of Newcastle Jets. The inclusion of Rukavytsya takes to five the number of Glory players in the Olyroos squad alongside Nikolai Topor-Stanley, Tando Velahpi, Billy Celeski and Jordan Simpson.
It’s not the first time Rukavytsya has been called into camp for Australia, however, on previously occasions visa problems have prevented him from playing for the nation in full competition. Even so, the young striker was surprised to learn of his inclusion in the Olyroos for the Iraq game. “I was really surprised but also very happy about it,” commented Rukavytsya of his call-up. “I’ve been a part of the Young Socceroos but I couldn’t play because of my passport issues. I could only play friendly games for the Young Socceroos, no serious international games.”
Rukavytsya was pleased with his performance in Newcastle where he found the net for the first time at national league level. “It a bit of a relief because I haven’t scored for a while and especially as it was my first goal in the A-League,” he commented. “But it’s also been really exciting. I didn’t stop training in pre-season because I played in the local league to keep fit. I was doing well and scoring goals there and obviously then we started pre-season with the club and went on a tour of Malaysia and I just sort of continued the form.”
Suggestions he may one day eclipse the goalscoring exploits of retired Glory great Bobby Despotovski are played down by Rukavytsya. “Bobby was a great player and he’s a legend of the club,” he said. “It will be hard to fill that hole but I guess you’ve just got to keep working on your game and always give your best and hopefully one day you’ll be good enough. I see Bobby around a lot - he comes and watches every home game and I see him after the game. We talk a little bit and he gives me good advice.”
Rukavytsya thrives on competition and enjoys the rivalry that has developed with James Robinson and Jamie Harwell for the goalscoring roles at Glory. “Robbo and Jamie are good strikers. They’re hard workers and good finishers,” commented Rukavytsya. “It’s good to work with players like that. You learn a lot and improve on your game. We all get on really well. The whole team is really close and the boys are really good friends.”
While David Mitchell will miss the enthusiasm and skill of all five players away with the Olyroos, the Glory coach is delighted so many have made the grade. “I’m thrilled for the boys who are getting this opportunity,” Mitchell said. “Being part of Australia’s Olympic team in Seoul in 1988 was one of the highlights of my playing career and I hope that as many of our players get to experience that as well. Their inclusion in the Olyroos squad shows the quality of young players we have attracted to Perth and we have a fantastic base from which our team can grow in the future.”
MONTGOMERY CONSIDERS HIS OPTIONS
State striker Stuart Montgomery is unsure where he'll call home next year after seven seasons at Nash Field. The 29-year old sharp-shooter battled injury to play a key role in a young Knights side and, although he ended the year with a fifth successive leading goalscorer trophy, Montgomery is weighing up his options. "As of yet I haven't made any decisions about next year," he explained. "I'm out of contract with the Knights and are waiting for the club to notify me if I'm a required player for next season ... I'm just waiting to see what happens in the next few months."
Montgomery may be undecided as to his immediate playing plans but he has absolutely no doubt the Knights will bounce back from a disappointing season. The club struggled for consistency, and with injury, during the winter months before claiming an unfamiliar spot in the bottom half of the table. "We've not finished as low as seventh in the seven years I've been with the Knights," commented Montgomery. "We were all disappointed at seasons' end and everyone involved with the club want to make amends next season."
The only bright spot in an otherwise difficult season for the club was the emergence of the next generation of Knights players. "We played some very young kids who might not have got first team experience if we hadn’t have had so many injuries," Montgomery added. "We lost our entire back line two games into the season, players like Ivan Zuvela and David Annall, and that really hurt us. The young guys who came in did a good job and the experience they gained will benefit in the next few years."
Suggestions long-serving coaches Ronnie Campbell and Willie Kelly are on their way out of Nash Field come as a surprise to Montgomery. "I know both coaches weren't happy with where we finished and I think they'd want to stick around and try to get the club back up to the top," he commented. "They have been with the Knights for ten years and won every trophy going. They've done a marvellous job taking the club from being relegation battlers to one of the top three teams in the competition. Personally, if Ronnie and Willie were to leave then it would leave a very big hole at the club."
Montgomery's ability to convert chances into goals resulted in a place in the State Select XI for last month's friendly with Malaysian side Selangor FA. "It's always nice to be selected to play for your State and it's a step in the right direction that next year there will be a full State team calendar," he said. "It's good recognition for players who perform well during the year and something you can set goals to. Not everyone can step up to the A-League so this gives players something else to aim for, and you never know who might be watching, it's another shop window in some respects."
The off-season has given Montgomery a chance to not only re-assess his future but also get a few things right in preparation for next season. "I had a knee operation a few weeks ago to tidy up some cartilage," he explained. "I haven't done much training the last few weeks but I am just starting to run now and am looking to get myself semi-fit before the pre-season starts. I've had a few injury problems in the last few years so, hopefully, this season I'll have an injury free run and get the chance to win some trophies."
FAMILIAR FACES RETURN FOR GLORY
Perth Glory have turned to experienced local recruits Ante Kovacevic and Mark Lee to help bolster their playing stocks ahead of Sunday's A-League match with table-topping Central Coast Mariners. The pair will be in contention to start against the Mariners because of a spate of absences due to injury, suspension and international duties. Kovacevic and Lee have signed one-week replacement contracts, although the terms could be extended depending on player availability.
Kovacevic has taken time off from his IT job to train with Glory and joins the club after helping Floreat Athena win the State League. The 33-year old defender has close to 300 games experience at national league level and is delighted to be preparing to test himself against the Mariner's in-form Socceroos striker John Aloisi. "It will be a challenge to play against John Aloisi," he said. "If we can keep Central Coast scoreless, it would give me great satisfaction."
Lee, winner of the 2005 Gold Medal, made six appearances for Glory last season and spent the winter months with E.C.U. Joondalup. A former professional with English club Scarborough and Scottish outfit Hibernian, Lee seized the opportunity to return to the A-League ranks. "I loved the experience last year and I just want to go out and enjoy it again," said Lee, a youth development officer with Football West.
KILKELLY GOES FULL CIRCLE
Sorrento has made the first major signing of the summer by snapping up State representative Shaun Kilkelly. The versatile 23-year old ends a lengthy association with Inglewood United for a return to the club where he first played the round ball game. “I spoke to three clubs and Sorrento came out on top for me they have always been a good club with a lot of history and, besides, played there as a junior,” commented Kilkelly on his move. “I needed a change after six seasons with Inglewood and, after breaking my leg twice in the past two years, I’m hoping I can have a bit of luck and enjoy the coming year with my new club.”
Last season was a difficult one for Sorrento who ended the campaign second from bottom with just four wins to their credit. Kilkelly is keen on playing his part in the Gulls resurgence under knowledgeable coach Steve Neville, a veteran of over 400 games in England for the likes of Sheffield United, Exeter City and Bristol City. “Steve knows a lot about the game and I’m looking forward to playing under him,” he said. “He did a great job in guiding Sorrento to the championship a couple of years back. But they lost six class players at the end of that season so last year was more about rebuilding … you will see a totally different Sorrento team next season.”
Neville views the recruitment of Kilkelly as an important part of his plans to revitalise Sorrento. “The signing of Shaun is great for our club,” the Gulls coach said. “He was the first player I went for and that was to show that our club meant business next season. He is a hard player on the park, he is a winner and he is vocal which I believe we lacked a little last season. When I spoke to him about joining us at Percy Doyle Reserve he was happy to return to the club were he started his football.”
Kilkelly broke into first team ranks as a teenager at E.C.U. Joondalup before moving to Clipsal Stadium in 2001. Injury and a season with Future Glory were the only interruptions to his time with Inglewood for whom he played close to 100 games. “It was a hard decision to leave Inglewood as I made a lot of friends at the club,” he said. “I enjoyed my time with Inglewood and have a lot of memories that I’ll carry throughout my career. My favourite moment was the first time I walked out as team captain, it was a great honour to captain Inglewood. Another highlight that springs immediately to mind is when we beat Swan I.C. to win the Night Series in 2005.”
Indications are Kilkelly won’t be the only departure from the Inglewood camp ahead of 2008 as several other long-serving players consider their futures. Despite this, Kilkelly sees no reason why Inglewood will not be a major force next season. “There’s always all sorts of rumours around this time of the year about players leaving clubs and this year is no different,” he said. “What people forget is that when a player leaves a club then another player will come in. As long as Bobby (Despotovski) is coaching Inglewood they will do well, the players there will always fight and play to win against any opponent.”
YOUNG SOCCEROOS QUALIFY FOR ASIAN CHAMPIONSHIP
Australia are through to the Asian Football Confederation Under-19 Championship after completing the qualifying series in second spot behind the Korean Republic. The Young Socceroos secured their place in next year's tournament, to be played in Saudi Arabia, by sweeping their way past Indonesia, Vietnam and Guam before succumbing to the Korean Republic in the final Group G fixture.
The Young Socceroos campaign opened with a 2-0 defeat of Indonesia on a rain soaked pitch in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Although they dominated the opening half, it wasn't until the hour mark when Australia broken through courtesy of Daniel Mullen’s diving header. The game was made safe ten minutes from full-time when Mitch Nichols turned his marker and fired into the far bottom corner.
Mitch Nichols and Isaka Cernak-Okanya found the net to secure Australia a 2-0 win over Vietnam on match day two. Like two days earlier, the Young Socceroos controlled the game for lengthy periods before going ahead on 73 minutes when Nichols headed in after good lead-up work by Luke DeVere and James Holland. Cernak doubled the lead soon after be heading in a cross from Milos Lujic.
The Young Socceroos guaranteed themselves a top two finish by thumping group minnow Guam 15-0 on Saturday. Mitch Nichols lead the way with a hat-trick, Tahj Minniecon, Sebastian Ryall and Glen Trifiro each scored twice with Marko Jesic, Milos Lujic, Jason Hoffman, Isaka Cernak-Okanya, Matthew Theodore and Luke DeVere also on the scoresheet.
Australia finished the qualifying tournament on a disappointing note when dumped 4-0 by the Korean Republic. Korea never looked back after stealing ahead on 3 minutes as they delivered the Young Socceroos a lesson in finishing. By half-time that lead had blown out to three goals with the scoring completed midway through the second period.
The Young Socceroos squad featured Isaka Cernak-Okanya, Peter Cvetanovski, Luke DeVere, James Holland, Marko Jesic, Matthew Jurman, Milos Lujic, Tahj Minniecon, Daniel Mullen, Matthew Mullen, Andrew Redmayne, Matthew Theodore (Australian Institute of Sport), Michael McEntagert (Everton), Ryan McGowan, Rocky Visconte (Hearts), Nathan Elasi, Glen Trifiro (Marconi Stallions), Sebastian Ryall (Melbourne Victory), Jason Hoffman (Newcastle Jets), Mitch Nichols (Queensland Roar) and Oliver Bozanic (Reading).
GLORY LOOK LOCALLY TO FILL GAPS
Perth Glory will ease their personnel crisis by offering short-term contracts to a number of State League players. Coach David Mitchell will dip into the local ranks after a combination of representative commitments, injuries and suspensions left him with just the bare minimum number of players for their next A-League fixture against Central Coast Mariners. A request to postpone the game, to be played this Sunday at Member Equity Stadium, was turned down by Football Federation Australia.
Golden Boot winner Boima Karpeh, Josip Magdic and John Migas of champions Floreat Athena are amongst those invited to stuff in front of the Glory coaching staff this evening with Perth S.C. trio Andreas Oliveira, Todd Howarth and Robbie Puca. Cockburn City's defensive partners Shane Nunes and Liam Lilly will also attend as well as midfielders Mark Lee, Marc Anthony (E.C.U. Joondalup), Steve Porter, Keith Brown (Stirling Lions), Callum Roberts (Fremantle City) and Andrija Jukic (Western Knights).
EVERYTHING GOING TO PLAN AT BAYSWATER
The new coaching team of Michael Di Fulvio and Jamie Goodman are busying themselves planning for the season ahead at Bayswater City. “Thing’s are progressing well for us and the whole club are working together to make sure Bayswater have a successful 2008,” said Di Fulvio. “We’re happy with the current squad and feel it only requires minor changes in specific areas. We’ve identified several players who we believe would add depth to the squad and we’re hopeful of announcing a few signings within fortnight, which is great news for the club.”
Di Fulvio is excited about his first coaching appointment and remains confident that he and Goodman can steer the club back into the top flight. “Every club has their ups and downs and Bayswater is no exception,” he explained. “We see Bayswater as a big club with high expectations and they’ve certainly underachieved in recent seasons. What attracted us to the role was a new young vibrant board with ambitions to improve every aspect of the club. They have identified mistakes of the past and learnt form those experiences.”
While improving Bayswater’s fortunes is foremost in Di Fulvio’s thoughts, the former Swan I.C. assistant coach would like to start next season with a Cup clash against top flight opposition. “Personally, I would love to play against any of the Premier League teams, a big derby against Perth S.C. would be a good welcome to coaching. From experience I know enough to try and avoid Swan altogether as they have a knack of turning it on for big games, which is something that annoyed the hell out of me while I was there. Either way however, I don’t mind as it’s out of our control, we will concentrate on our performances in pre-season and see how we go.”
GLORY CAUGHT SHORT
Furious Perth Glory co-owner Tony Sage has accused the game’s governing body of failing to recognise his club’s crippling personnel crisis. Representative commitments, injuries and suspensions have left new coach David Mitchell with just ten fit players less than a week before Glory host A-League leader Central Coast Mariners.
Sage is staggered that requests for Football Federation Australia to consider postponing the match had been ignored. “At the moment we’ve got ten fit players,” Sage said. “Why won’t FFA entertain a postponement of the game? What are we supposed to do? They sit in their ivory towers in Sydney hoping this will go away but it won’t.”
Mitchell may call upon former Glory defender Ante Kovacevic, who played the winter at Floreat Athena, as he tries to avoid crashing back to earth following a stunning 4-1 win against high-flying Newcastle Jets on Friday. Glory will play a trial match against State League players tomorrow evening in an effort to identify potential short-term recruits.
Tando Velaphi, Nikolai Topor-Stanley, Billy Celeski and Jordan Simpson have been called up for international duty with the Australian under-23 side, and may be joined by David Micevski and Nikita Rukavytsya. International commitments have also ruled out Leo Bertos, who’ll be away with the New Zealand national team.
Injury will prevent James Robinson (thigh), Naum Sekulovski (hamstring) and Anthony Danze (hamstring) from playing on Sunday. Hayden Foxe is still a couple of weeks away from returning after a knee injury, Stan Lazaridis is suspended until December and Jamie Coyne is serving the second game of his two-match ban.
RUKAVYTSYA PAYS TRIBUTE TO SACKED COACH
Perth Glory’s two-goal hero Nikita Rukavytsya insists axed coach Ron Smith deserves credit for the teams’ 4-1 defeat of Newcastle Jets on Friday. Although promoted to the starting line-up by new coach David Mitchell, the gun youngster said Smith’s imprint was still very much on the team. “It’s been a not tough for all the boys and Ron is a very good coach,” he said. “He was just a bit unlucky with some injuries and we were having trouble finishing in the final third.”
Rukavytsya described Glory’s drought breaking win as a major turning point in their season. “The good thing on Friday night was that we made the most of our chances,” he commented. “We need to keep working hard and stick together and hopefully we can keep going.” The win - Glory’s first in eighteen games - keeps alive their pre-season target of playing finals football. But in order to do so they must win at least six of their remaining nine games.
MITCHELL PROUD OF GLORY WIN
David Mitchell was delighted with Perth Glory’s all round performance against Newcastle Jets that delivered them three much-needed points. Goals from Nikita Rukavytsya (2), Jordan Simpson and an own goal earned Glory their first win of the season by a 4-1 scoreline. “Before the game I said to the boys that they had to die for each other out on the park, nothing less would be tolerated, I think you saw that tonight,” Mitchell said. “It was an outstanding team effort and they can all be extremely proud of the way they went about it. Their pride has been wounded this season by what has transpired but we bit back and we’ll take plenty of confidence out of the result.”
Mitchell praised the way his players responded to Joel Griffiths’ equaliser early in the second half. “After conceding that goal you could be excused for thinking here we go again,” Mitchell said. “But the way the lads picked themselves up and responded in the best possible way really gave them the belief and the confidence to go on with the job. The lads showed the desperation and commitment needed to win … They have been so close on a number of occasions but haven’t got the result they deserved. Tonight, however, it went our way and we’ll keep working hard to ensure that the momentum continues in our direction.”
FPERFECT START FOR GLORY'S MITCHELL
Perth Glory’s first win in almost twelve months came in emphatic fashion as new coach David Mitchell’s reign started with a 4-1 thrashing of Newcastle Jets at Energy Australia Stadium last night. Mitchell, who promised a hard-nosed approach when appointed last week, made some tough decision and came out smiling as Glory struck three second half goals to register their first win in eighteen games. Two goals from Nikita Rukavytsya, one from Jordan Simpson and an Andrew Durante own goal ended the sides winless streak which began on 26th November last year.
The Jets adjusted the better to wet and windy conditions and should have gone ahead but Mark Bridge fired high from close-range. Scott Tunbridge then let Glory off the hook by shooting wide after nipping on between Dino Djulbic and goalkeeper Tando Velaphi. The visitors first opening came after 18 minutes when a Simon Colosimo free-kick struck the defensive wall and Rukavytsya’s follow-up was superbly saved by Ante Covic. Tunbridge squandered a golden opportunity down the other end just a minute later by spraying shot wide from 5-metres after a pin-point cross by Bridge.
The game was turned on its head in 25th minute when Rukavytsya strode unmarked into the 18-yard box where he danced around Covic before a backtracking Durante toed the ball into his own net. Jets coach Gary Van Egmond brought on former Brazilian international Mario Jardel in an attempt to capitalising on the host of chances being created by his team. But by this stage Glory had found their rhythm and James Robinson went close after being played in by Colosimo. Robinson was again the guilty party just before the break by sliding the ball wide of an open goal after Covic parried his initial shot.
The second half was just four minutes old when parity was restored as Adam D’Apuzzo put a great through ball for Joel Griffiths who streaked into the penalty area before calmly slotting past Velaphi. But the home crowd were silenced within a minute as Leo Bertos centred to Rukavytsya whose shot was parried by Covic, and Simpson was well positioned to net the loose ball. There was still plenty of life in the home team and on the hour Elrich dragged a shot wide. The result was all but assured three minutes later when Colosimo’s cross was nodded down by Jamie Harnwell for Rukavytsya to rifle past Covic.
Velaphi was called up to keep put Steve Laybutt’s volley from 15-metres as the Jets sought to salvage something from the game. Into the final ten minutes and Matt Thompson sent the ball past the post, while a last ditch tackle by Colosimo thwarted Laybutt. With the home side committing men forward, Velaphi launched one final Glory attack in which James Downey made his way down the left before centring to an unmarked Rukavytsya who swept the ball in from the top of the 18-yard box to make the points safe.
VRTESKI CRASHES INTO EUROPE
Moving to Europe was just the tonic Aleks Vrteski needed to revitalise his career. Life at the moment could not be better for the 19-year old who parted company with Perth Glory little over two months ago in pursuit of a professional contract with Macedonian champion Pobeda. "Europe's an absolute blast," enthused Vrteski. "I've been at Pobeda for two months and everything has panned out fantastically."
Vrteski was well down the pecking roder when he arrived at Pobeda but has worked hard to force his way into the line-up. "The club already had two 'keepers on their books when I arrived and the coaches said I needed to lose weight," he explained. "Under a training program which was more intense than anything I had ever experienced I shed twelve kilograms, broke into the matchday squad and have been fortunate enough to play the last two league matches as well as a Cup game."
An Australian youth international, Vrteski admits a degree of frustration at not figuring more prominently Ron Smith's during his time with Glory. "I was disappointed not to have played more but I think part of it was my problem as well," explained Vrteski, who was third choice being Tommi Tomich and Tando Velaphi at the start of the season. "I needed too stand out at training and be to be noticed, it wasn't good enough to be par with the other 'keepers."
Vrteski is surprised to see his former club stumping up the table and still seeking their first win of the season after twelve games. "It's a massive surprise that they're struggling," he said. "Not being able to hit the back of the net has been their biggest problem, and they've also been unfortunate injury-wise. They lost Hayden Foxe before a ball had been kicked, David Tarka went down just 15 minutes into the season, and on top of that Stan Lazaridis has been missing ... that's three of the best players in the league."
In was in 2002 that Vrteski first made his mark as part of the Future Glory set-up. Spells with Sorrento, Stirling Lions and Wanneroo City as well as at the Australian Institute of Sport preceded his signing with Glory in early 2006. And although his focus in on forging a career in Europe, Vrteski would like to one day add to his eight appearances in Glory colours. "Deep down, Perth's my home, I've grown up supporting Glory and I'd love to play for the club again one day."
GLORY SEEK A FRESH START
Perth Glory go into this evenings crucial away fixture with Newcastle Jets confident of getting a result. While coach Dave Mitchell is looking forward to the challenge, he has already endured a tough few days in which key defender Jamie Coyne was suspended for two-weeks while another five players missed most of the week due to a national team training camp. “That’s just football,” Mitchell said. “Each week there will inevitably be things which rear their head and disrupt your preparations, it’s about how you manage that that is the important thing.”
With more than 150 matches under his coaching belt with Sydney Olympic, Sydney United and Parramatta Power, Mitchell is well equipped to deal with the pressure applied to the man at the top. However, he admits there will be a few butterflies as the opening whistle draws near this evening. “Most people would say that I’m an easy going and calm sort of character most of the time so I haven’t worried too much about the pressure and the like, I’m just looking forward to the game and I think the players are as well,” he said.
Training has been upbeat this week according to Mitchell with everyone at the club keen to see what can be achieved in the second half of the season. “It’s a natural thing when the coach changes, you have a clean slate. You draw a line in the sand and look to move forward. It doesn’t matter what happened in the past we’re looking ahead and are enthusiastic about the remainder of the season,” explained Mitchell.
With Glory still searching for their first win twelve games into the season, Mitchell knows exactly what three points could do for the confidence of a team desperate for a bit of luck to fall their way. “I want to play good football but it’s all about winning games, that’s first and foremost, and we’ll have a real crack at them this week,” he said. Perth’s last visit to Energy Australia Stadium will bring back fond memories for the team with a three-nil result going their way in round six last season.
AROUND THE CLUBS … FIRST DIVISION
The on-field activity for 2007 came to an end well over a month ago for players from the First Division. In the weeks since the final whistle was blown each of the twelve second tier clubs have honoured their stand out performers at their annual awards evenings. With the last of these held recently, we felt it timely to take a comprehensive look at who went home with the silverware from all twelve club awards evenings in 2007 ...
Mandurah City’s Club Champion for 2007 was split between first team attacker Christian Paschkewitz and Reserves captain Neil Connor. Goalkeeper Michael Green won the Player of the Season, Jake Loreto picked up the Under-21 Player of the Year, and the Encouragement Award went to Sam Keary. The Goal of the Year was scored by Shane Crampton in the Cup clash with E.C.U. Joondalup, Peter Smith was awarded the Sportsperson of the Year, and Mark Russell was named the Club Person of the Year.
A terrific debut season for Mandurah ended with Jeff Bright winning the first team Fairest and Best award. Michael Green collected the Players’ Player of the Year while the Coaches Award went to Graeme Matthews. The Reserves Fairest and Best went home with Mikel Sesma who was also named the Players’ Player of the Year. The Coaches Award was taken out by Neil Connor. Kyle Doogan won the Youth team Fairest and Best as well as Players’ Player of the Year. Kane Jemmerson picked up the Coaches Award.
Daniel Webb collected Ashfield’s top honour, the Player of Year, for the second time in as many years. Julian Piromalli came in second place, while 20-year old Zac Jones received the Coaches Award. The Fairest and Best for the Reserves went home with Gareth Williams ahead of Alex Crookes. Goalkeeper Peter Treeby took out the Coaches Award for the second successive year.
It was a night to remember for Gary Mayers who walked away with the Players’ Player of the Year and Fairest and Best trophies at South West Phoenix. Gareth Johnson was runner-up in the main award, the Coaches Awards was shared by Ryan Risdon and Ryan Montgomery, while Steve Suttie collected the Leading Goalscorer trophy. The Reserves Fairest and Best went home with Aaron Robbins with Etienne Sharp in second place. Greg Murray picked up the Coaches Award. Patrick Smith won the Youth team Fairest and Best ahead of Albert Bucchino. Recipient of the Coaches Award was Yohanes Tadesse.
Paul Hickey will look back fondly on season 2007 after being named the Best and Fairest player at Dianella White Eagles. Jon Greenwood was the teams Top Goalscorer with the Most Improved Player going to central midfielder Osman Conteh. Branimir Dragojevic picked up the Best Player trophy for the Reserves, with Risto Kacurkov the teams Top Goalscorer. No awards were presented to Dianella’s Youth team which was disbanded by the club in mid-season for disciplinary reasons.
Duncan Hind topped the polling in Canning City’s top award, the Player of the Year, while striker David Mickler was voted the Players’ Player of the Year. Thomas Archer won the Reserves Player of the Year with Bradley Harken going home with the Players’ Player of the Year trophy. The Youth team Player of the Year was Michael Gallatly, and the Players’ Player of the Year was Sam Ainscough. Glenn Kinsey was honoured with the Presidents’ Trophy, and the Mitchell Allomes Memorial Trophy went to Joseph Maidar.
Japanese import Seita Hamamoto collected the Fairest and Best at Morley Windmills ahead of attack minded Scott McIlroy. Experienced defender Andy Bowyer collected the Players’ Player of the Year, and Remo McCann the Coaches Award. Paul Gibson received the Fairest and Best along with the Coaches Award for the Reserves. Micky McGrath was second in the main award, with the Players’ Player of the Year taken out by Matt Carruthers. Mitch Castrilli won the Youth Fairest and Best ahead of Matthew Graham. The Players’ Player of the Year went to Andrej Balic, and the Coaches Award to Sheun Ennis.
Former State defender Adrian Sutton won the Fairest and Best at Bayswater City by a single vote from Jason Lawton. Sal Marrapodi, who played much of the season on the wing, claimed the Golden Boot with eleven goals. Ian McAllister received top honours in the Reserves ahead of joint runners-up Matthew Novatsis and Gareth Whittle, who also picked up the Golden Boot. The Youth team awards were won by Trent Jones (Fairest and Best), Christain Lenzarini (runner-up) and Pavel Rzybinski (Golden Boot). Dave Hethrington was honoured with the Clubman of the Year, while Lawton, Daniel Naumovski, Marrapodi and Jones were recognised for ten years of continuous service to the club.
The trophies were evenly distributed when Gosnells City conducted their trophy ceremony at the City Gate Hotel. First team captain Aaron Nadin was named Fairest and Best, Ciaran Allen collected the Players’ Player of the Year, Ian Maguire was named Most Improved and Brian Cairney the Top Goalscorer. The Reserves Fairest and Best went to Jordan Naylor who was also voted Players’ Player of the Year. Tom Capewell picked up the Fairest and Best for the Youth team where the Players’ Player of the Year was shared between Lee Harris and David Abbott.
Veteran attacking John Nicolaou went home with the Players’ Player of the Year and Fairest and Best awards from Balcatta’s trophy evening. Christian Debarro was Runner-up Fairest and Best, while Adam Stillitano collected the Most Improved trophy. The Reserves Players’ Player of the Year was taken out by Mark Humphries. Tony Fazzari picked up the Fairest and Best ahead of Stillitano with Alex Billy named the Most Improved. Cory Wiltshire dominated the Youth team awards by winning the Players’ Player of the Year as well as the Fairest and Best. Runner-up Fairest and Best was Dion Spevoski.
It was a big night for Luke Rennie who won his second successive Player of the Year at Rockingham City. Michael Vaz was runner-up and also received the Players’ Player of the Year, while Max Percy collected the Coaches Award. Darren Mathurine received the Reserves Player of the Year ahead of Sean Maye, Mark Boyham was named the Players’ Player of the Year and Roy Hissey won the Coaches Award. David Clarke won both the Player of the Year and Players’ Player of the Year for the Youth team. Michael Grigo was runner-up in the main award, with Wesley Britz presented the Coaches Award.
The non-stop efforts of captain Ian McKean earned him the Fairest and Best as well as Players’ Player of the Year trophies at Queens Park. Brian Kinson took second place in the Fairest and Best count, while Ricky Simpson claimed the Golden Boot. Travis Loveridge collected the Reserves Fairest and Best and Players’ Player of the Year trophies. James Allen was runner-up in the main award, and recipient of the Best Clubman. The Reserves Golden Boot went home with Carlos Jogee. The Youth team trophies were claimed by Ross Brown (Best and Fairest), Siddharth Arora (runner-up Best and Fairest) Carlos Joge (Golden Boot) and Rys Bufton (Encouragement Award).
Details as to who went home with the trophies from Forrestfield United’s awards ceremony were not forthcoming from the club.
OLYROOS PREPARE FOR DO-OR-DIE CLASH
Graham Arnold has named a strong squad for Australia’s crucial Olympic Games qualifier against Iraq. Eight overseas based players have been called up including Adrian Leijer, Neil Kilkenny, Nick Ward, James Troisi and David Williams. A number of key A-League players have also been selected, amongst them Perth Glory quartet Billy Celeski, Jordan Simpson, Nikolai Topor-Stanley and goalkeeper Tando Velaphi. Australia must beat Iraq, the reigning Asian champion, next Saturday in Gosford to progress to next years tournament in China. With two qualifying games remaining, the Olyroos sit level on points with Iraq who hold a slender goal difference advantage. Australia meet DPR (North) Korea in their final Group A fixture on Wednesday 21 November.
The Australian squad for the match against Iraq is Nathan Burns, Adam D’Apuzzo, Dez Giraldi, Kristian Sarkies (Adelaide United), David Williams (Brondby), Aaron Downes (Chesterfield), Nigel Boogaard, Danny Vukovic (Central Coast Mariners), Adrian Leijer (Fulham), Trent McClenahan (Hereford United), Leigh Broxham (Melbourne Victory), Mark Bridge, Stuart Musialik (Newcastle Jets), James Troisi (Newcastle United), Dario Vidosic (Nuremberg), Neil Kilkenny (Oldham Athletic), Billy Celeski, Jordan Simpson, Nikolai Topor-Stanley, Tando Velaphi (Perth Glory), Nick Ward (Queens Park Rangers), Michael Zullo (Queensland Roar), Mark Milligan and Ruben Zadkovich (Sydney FC).
HARNWELL GIVEN NEW LEASE OF LIFE
Jamie Harnwell considered quitting Perth Glory at the height of the most difficult period of his career under former coach Ron Smith. Harnwell was told at the end of last season he could look for a new club by Smith, but thought he’d weathered the storm when he got his chance in Glory’s pre-season Cup campaign. However, the rug was pulled from under Harnwell when he was dropped for the first game of the A-League season, and then again for the round six meeting at Wellington Phoenix.
Harnwell’s determination to remain with the club he first played for in 1998 saw him through what has been a trying period. “It’s been the worst time of my career both personally and as far as the team has gone in terms of results,” Harnwell said. “It wasn’t something I dealt with easily and there were times were I thought maybe I’ve had enough and I really do have to pack my bags and look elsewhere. I’m just thankful I stuck in there.”
The appointment of David Mitchell to the coaching helm this week has given Harnwell renewed hope that his long association with the club will continue for some time yet. He will feature in his 198th match for Glory in Friday’s away meeting with Newcastle Jets, and hopes to crack the 200-game milestone with the away fixture against Adelaide United on Friday 23rd November.
The switch in Harnwell’s status since Mitchell’s took over could not have been more dramatic. Where Smith saw Harnwell, a defender by trade, as little more than a part-time striker, Mitchell sees a versatile player who can play either up front or at the back. “Jamie epitomises the way I sort of played,” said Mitchell. “Jamie is a handful and nobody likes playing against him because he wears his heart on his sleeve, and he puts people under pressure and people don’t like being put under pressure.”
Mitchell considers Harnwell’s ability to score goals vital in turning Glory’s season around. “Jamie was our top scorer last year and he’s started several games this term and he’s scored four goals. If we had brought a player from overseas and he’d got that ratio we’d be singing his praises,” the coach added. “It’s not always Jamie who capitalises (on the pressure he asserts), its people around Jamie who capitalise from that and that’s the big advantage of playing him up front,” said the coach.
COYNE OUT FOR A FORTNIGHT
A two-match suspension to Jamie Coyne will give the Perth Glory defender much-needed time to recover from a foot injury that has required pain-relieving injections before each of the A-League club’s past seven games. Coyne, who has struggled through the pain barrier since hurting his right foot in September, was handed the suspension after being caught on camera elbowing Wellington Phoenix midfielder Tim Brown in the stomach during Friday’s game at Members Equity Stadium.
Coach David Mitchell, who’ll be forced to reshuffle the back four for tomorrow’s clash with Newcastle jets, bemoaned the loss of Coyne’s experience against an opponent with plenty of attacking verve. “I think he’s been one of our best performers all season, especially since he’s been moved to centre-half. He’s done exceptionally well,” Mitchell said. “He’s been playing with an injury and he’s been getting injections every week. I admire him for what he’s done and he’s going to be a big loss.”
MCCALLUM AMONGST ASIA’S FINEST
Matildas star Collette McCallum has been named second runner-up in the Asian Football Confederation’s Women’s Player of the Year. DPR Korea’s Ri Kum Suk was announced winner of the prestigious award ahead of by Japan’s Homare Sawa and McCallum at the AFC Women’s Awards ceremony in Malaysia yesterday. McCallum featured in every minute of Australia’s four World Cup matches and scored a spectacular free-kick in the decisive group fixture with Canada to book the Matildas a historic quarter final berth.
McCallum, capped 35 times for Australia, said she was stunned when she and her parents were invited to the awards ceremony after the AFC trimmed the initial selection of ten players to just three. “I was never nominated for something like this before and it came as a complete surprise to me,” said the 21-year old. “I felt overwhelmed when I was told that I am among the top three contenders. It is an honour to be in the league with the likes of Homare and Ri.”
The midfielder has now set her sights on plying her trade overseas. “I think I have improved as a player after last year’s AFC Women’s Asian Cup and have already been approached by clubs from Los Angeles, North Carolina apart from Arsenal and Everton,” said the 21-year old. “FFA will launch a women’s league from next year but I would like to play overseas first to get some more experience. There are not enough women players in Australia and it would be better for our football if more foreign players come and play in the Australian Women’s League.”
BROADCASTER GRLJUSICH PASSES AWAY
Veteran sports broadcaster George Grljusich has lost his battle with cancer. Grljusich, who had been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer early last month, passed away this morning, aged 68. During a 47-year career with the ABC and 6PR he covered no less than 93 sports and broadcast at six Olympic Games and ten Commonwealth Games.
Grljusich played a key role in putting Perth Glory on the map by calling home and away games during the clubs formative years. He was joined in the commentary box by the late Johnny Warren, a true legend of the Australian game, and former Glory coach Gary Marocchi. One of Grljusich’s most vivid memories was broadcasting the 1999/2000 National Soccer League Grand Final when Glory threw away a three-goal lead to Wollongong Wolves in front of 43,242 spectators at Subiaco Oval.
Marocchi was saddened by his former colleagues’ passing. “George was a very intelligent person who could call many different sports,” said Marocchi. “His main passion was for ‘Aussie Rules’ but he was very pro-soccer due to his Croatian heritage. I was privileged to work alongside George at 6PR calling Glory home matches, his preparation for games was a testament to his professionalism.”
Grljusich had his fair share of runs in 6PR management according to Marocchi. “He was a perfectionist and, at times, the technical back-up from the station did not meet George’s demands. He was always incensed when there was a technical failure during broadcasts,” explained Marocchi. “I am extremely honoured to have been able to work alongside such an intelligent and professional sports broadcaster, rest in peace George.” Thanks for the memories George, you are already missed.
DUNN AND LOWE CONFIRMED AS GLORY ASSISTANTS
New Perth Glory coach David Mitchell will turn to assistants Robbie Dunn and Kenny Lowe in reviving the clubs fortunes. "It's important to have a good understanding with your assistants and I think I've got that with Robbie and Kenny," Mitchell said. "I'm looking at adding more sessions into the training mix and they will be a vital part of ensuring our squad, and in particular our talented young players, are getting the best guidance possible."
Dunn and Lowe both moved into the coaching arena after successful playing careers. "They both have good football brains and I'm sure we will all learn things from each other over the course of the remaining games this season," said Mitchell. "I think we have been able to assemble a good coaching team which has a variety of strengths. I'm sure the players will benefit from Robbie's continued input and also the addition of Kenny to the club."
Dunn, born in Scotland, is Western Australia's second most capped international with forty-four appearances for Australia. He played national league football for West Adelaide, Preston Makedonia, Melbourne Croatia in a successful career that includes spells in Asia with South China (Hong Kong) and Sarawak (Malaysia) and locally with Perth Italia and North Perth Croatia.
Lowe, who represented England at semi-professional level, turned out for Hartlepool United, Barnet, Stoke City and Birmingham City amongst others in a playing career that spanned fifteen seasons. He also played at season with Spearwood Dalmatinac with whom he won the Gold Medal in 1986. Lowe cut his coaching teeth with English Conference outfit Barrow and Gateshead before relocating to Perth five years ago.
AMATEUR AND FEMALE BEST HONOURED
Players and officials of the amateur, social, masters and women’s leagues joined in celebrating the recent season on Friday evening when Football West held the inaugural Amateur, Social, Masters and Women’s presentation ceremony at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre. “The evening was an appropriate accolade to the thousands of players that participate in these Leagues each year,’ said Garry Chandler of Football West. “This is a fantastic initiative that I hope will become a permanent addition to our events calendar every year.’
The Amateur Premier League season came to a thrilling climax last month with Shamrock Rovers pipping Fremantle United in the Championship Final. The competition Fairest and Best award was won by Fremantle United striker Felim Rugel, who also captured the Golden Boot courtesy of a 34 goal winter. Ed Shuller and Adam Dassie, of Shamrock Rovers and Perth Azzurri respectively, were named joint winners of the Goalkeeper of the Year.
Over 35 clubs and 67 teams participated in the Women’s competitions this season. The trophy as the Premier League Fairest and Best player was presented to Prue Cormie of Balcatta. 32 goals earned Queens Park attacker Stacey Learmont the Gold Boot award, while Sarah King of Mandurah City collected the Goalkeeper of the Year. And in a fitting tribute to the women’s game, Matildas stars Collette McCallum and Lisa de Vanna were honoured in recognition of their outstanding achievements on the international and national scene.
GLORY ANNOUNCE DEAL WITH MANCHESTER CITY
Perth Glory are set receive a much needed boost after forming a strategic alliance with English Premier League giants Manchester City. It is proposed Glory will be the Australian representative in a worldwide alliance that the Blues are putting together and could reap the benefits both on and off the field in a wide ranging exchange of ideas and resources. “We believe this type deal will greatly help the club and allow us to do some very exciting things,” said Glory co-owner John Spence, who facilitated the relationship between through his extensive global business connections.
The full extent of the relationship will be revealed in the coming weeks when City bosses launch the program in Thailand, the home country of the clubs owner. “We could also tap into City’s sports science and coaching set-ups to ensure best practice is applied here and we also anticipate having some of their players coming to Perth to play with the Glory,” added Spence. “On the flip side our players here will be given a platform to visit Manchester City during the off season to help in their development and showcase their talent.”
MITCHELL APPOINTED GLORY COACH
Perth Glory has placed their faith in Dave Mitchell to turn around their ailing fortunes around. Mitchell, capped 44 times by Australia, will coach the side in a caretaker capacity for the remainder of the A-League season following the inevitable departure of Ron Smith. He boasts an impressive resume which includes spells at Glasgow Rangers, Chelsea and Feyenoord as a player, and coaching experience with Sydney Olympic, Sydney United and Parramatta Power.
Mitchell was brought to the club by Smith in mid-2006 as his assistant and is excited about taking on the responsibility of leading the club. “Ron brought me to Perth and I’m extremely grateful for that,” Mitchell said, who guided Sydney United to a Grand Final appearance in 1998/99. “While he is disappointed that he wasn’t able to achieve what he set out to do at the club he has given me his blessing take on the role and has wished us every success.”
The new coach challenged his squad to turn around their dismal campaign at specially convened meeting this morning. “They know we’re positive about where we can take this club,” Mitchell said. “When we step out onto the training track tomorrow it’s a clean slate for everyone. Only those willing to put in the hard work and show the passion needed to succeed will be part of the side going forward. If someone needs to be patted on the back, I’ll give them a pat on the back, but if they need a boot up the backside them I’ll certainly do that as well.”
Mitchell admitted to clashing with Smith on several occasion over the way the team was being coached. “Ron is from one part of the world, and I am from another and we did clash in certain instances,” Mitchell said. “We do have different philosophies. My professional background is very much hard nosed ... and I think that is a little bit what we missed. I put the players on notice this morning that there are careers at stake as well as my own. Desire and commitment has been lacking in some aspects, and certainly that is something I want to bring.”
Glory’s owners are committed to reviewing the coaching set-up at the end of the season. “We’re not going to be rushed on a decision on the long term coaching set-up,” said co-owner John Spence. “We won’t preclude looking at coaches from all over the world but we know Dave is very keen to make a success of this and he is in the driving seat with the ball very firmly at his feet over the next few months. We’re very positive on Dave, we feel he has terrific talent and he has our total support.”
AXE FINALLY FALLS ON SMITH
Ron Smith has become the second A-League coach in a fortnight to lose his job after Perth Glory’s owners asked him to step aside in light of a disappointing start to the season. With Glory winless in their past eighteen games and in last place on the table, co-owners John Spence, Brett McKeon and Tony Sage finally lost patience with Smith, who follows former Sydney F.C. boss Branko Culina through the trapdoor. The side will be lead for the remainder of the season by former Socceroo Dave Mitchell who has been assistant coach at Glory for the past sixteen months.
It’s been close to a year since Glory claimed maximum points and halfway through the season are ten points adrift of their target of playing finals football. “The club is sitting in a position that is unacceptable, however, the season isn’t gone and we still have an opportunity to figure prominently and will work every so hard to achieve our goal of a top four finish,” said Spence. “We have great respect for Ron Smith but believe that a new direction is needed if we’re to make positive moves forward and have full confidence in Dave Mitchell to take on that challenge.”
Smith’s tenure with Glory has not come to an end with the owners keen he remain at the club in another role which will be discussed when he returns from a well earned break in a fortnight. “Ron is a total professional, he is someone who understands the game and the way things work,” commented Spence. “Ron came to this club some time ago when it was in very dire straits and he has done some amazing things, he has been very dedicated, loyal and worked extremely hard. He leaves a legacy of quality players and young talent that will form the building blocks for the club in years to come.”
DRAGICEVIC SHOWN THE DOOR
Perth Glory and Mate Dragicevic have agreed my mutual consent to go their separate ways. Dragicevic, a former Croatian youth international, signed with Glory in May but struggled to find his feet in the A-League. The 28-year old failed to find the net in six regular season appearances for Glory. “We had high hopes for Mate this season but he hasn’t been able to have the impact in front of goal which we required,” said coach Ron Smith. “It has been extremely disappointing for the club and for the player. There was no question about his desire to do well for Perth Glory however he wasn’t able to make the most of the opportunities given to him and we’re at a stage now where we must look at alternatives. In the best interests of the club we’ve made the decision to part company with Mate.”
PHOENIX PILES ON GLORY’S MISERY
Perth Glory’s miserable winless streak was stretched to eighteen games with this evenings 0-1 loss to Wellington Phoenix at Members Equity Stadium. Brazilian forward Daniel took advantage of a defensive error early in the second half to put away the games only goal. The match is likely to be the last in charge for Ron Smith who faces a mid-season review this with Glory five points adrift at the bottom of the A-League table. “I said the players before the game that tonight was really a game we had to win and you’ve got to feel some desperation. I can only say that at times when we needed to be desperate we didn’t appear to be,” said Smith. “After the last four weeks where we’ve had opportunities to win games, we’ve been in front in a couple and had decent performances, tonight was a bad night where too many things went wrong and sometimes its hard to explain why.”
The home team began brightly and could have been in front with just 6 minutes on the clock when Bill Celeski’s cross was chested down by Jamie Harnwell into the path of James Robinson whose shot was smothered by goalkeeper Glen Moss. Three minutes later a long throw-in by Simon Colosimo found Robinson whose header was parried by Moss and Anthony Danze crashed the follow-up off the crossbar. Phoenix settled after the early onslaught and went close on 18 minutes as Vince Lia’s cross picked out Shane Smeltz whose header was saved by Tando Velaphi. The story was all too familiar for the Glory supporters as Robinson fired wide from a James Downey cross. Phoenix pressed again on 37 minutes through Ahmad Elrich whose long-range strike was saved low by Velaphi.
Members Equity Stadium was plunged into stunned silence six minutes after the re-start when Tim Brown pounced on a rare defensive error by Dino Djulbic and sent Daniel into the box with a smart through ball which he guided wide of Velaphi’s outstretched glove and into the net. Needing a win to resurrect their season, Glory threw caution to the wind and Robinson should have done better than volley high at close-range. Referee Simon Przydacz dismissed appeals for a penalty despite Karl Dodd appearing to handle the ball while tangling with Harnwell inside the box. Phoenix went within inches of sealing victory when Vince Lia delivered a cross which Elrich fired just past the post. In all honesty, Glory rarely looked like breaking through a resilient visiting defence, and the small crowd of 7,105 voiced their disapproval with the final whistle.
AROUND THE CLUBS … PREMIER LEAGUE
For most Premier League players the on-field activity for 2007 came to a close well over a month ago. During the intervening weeks the stand out performers at each of the twelve top flight teams have been honoured via their clubs’ annual awards evening. With the last of these held on the weekend we felt it timely to take a comprehensive look at who went home with silverware from each of the twelve awards evenings in 2007 ...
Celebrations went well into the night as Floreat Athena commemorated their first championship in a decade. The clubs highest award, the Fairest and Best, ended in a three-way tie between Ante Kovacevic, Paul Vatistas and star striker Boima Karpeh, who also collected the Golden Boot. Team captain Bajo Savic was Runner-up Fairest and Best, the Troy Bernard Rising Star Award went home with Jovo Pavlovic, and Julian Madaschi received the Coaches Award. The Reserves Fairest and Best was shared by Craig Howard and Phil Clarke with Jonathan Davite runner-up. Craig Howard was named Most Improved, and Nick Studer picked up the Golden Boot award. The Under-18 Fairest and Best was won by Milan Bogunovic ahead of Felix Burrows, the Most Improved was Spiro Nenadic and the Golden Boot went to Maysam Majnoon.
Team captain Robbie Puca was a deserved recipient of the Fairest and Best award at Perth S.C. where experienced defender Gianfranco Circati came in runner-up. Christopher Parfitt won the reserves top award for the second successive years with Chris Socratous and Simon Trinca in joint second place. Simon Wilson collected the Youth team Fairest and Best ahead of Nicholas Tatasciore. Wilson also took home the Youth Development Player of the Year, while promising young goalkeeper Mark Birighitti received the Robert Giorgi Memorial Trophy.
It was a night to remember for one-time Australian Schoolboy international Shane Nunes who picked up Cockburn City’s Fairest and Best award ahead of tireless midfielder Dom De Felice. Goalkeeper Dino Pacella was voted the Players’ Player of the Year, the Top Goalscorer went home with Johnny Mirco and Adam Surjan collected the Clubman Award. The Reserve team awards were dominated by Joseph Brunetto who won the Fairest and Best, Players’ Player of the Year and Top Goalscorer. Paul Underwood received the Runner-up Fairest and Best as well as Clubman Award. Matt MacDonald won the Youth Fairest and Best ahead of Devon Gibson.
Kevin Henderson made a clean sweep of the trophies at Stirling Lions for the second year running. The hard-working defender won the prestigious Players’ Player of the Year along with the Fairest and Best and Golden Boot awards. Ludovic Boi was voted Runner-up Fairest and Best, Leo Harman collected the Clubman Award, and Dannie Richman and Dean Evans shared the trophy as the clubs’ Outstanding Young Player. Ricky Filicamo went home with the Erin Debarro Courage Award.
The Reserve team trophies went to Matthew Italiano (Players’ Player of the Year, and Runner-up Fairest and Best), Mark Bentley (Fairest and Best, and President’s Award), with Damien Houston and Chris Rutherford sharing the Clubman Award. The Under-18 Players’ Player of the Year was collected by Rory Feely. Ben Senior and Cameron Sutton were joint Fairest and Best ahead of Chris Harlond. The Rookie of the Year was split between David Sasay and Zoran Vrteski. Dennis Divjakovski was named the clubs’ Most Outstanding Junior.
E.C.U. Joondalup captain Ian McMurray was presented with his clubs Fairest and Best and Top Goalscorer trophies. The Players’ Player of the Year was taken out by Craig Young, while the Young Player of the Year went to Tommy Amphlett. The Reserves Players’ Player of the Year went home with Jason Mirco, and the Coaches Player of the Year to Ciaran Kavanagh. Carlo Coelho collected the Players’ Player of the Year and Top Goalscorer awards for the under-18’s. The youth team Coaches Player of the Year was Mark Tebbutt.
It was a night to remember for Cormac Dawson who scooped the pool when Western Knights held their awards ceremony at the Croatian Community Centre. The versatile 21-year old went home with the trophies as the clubs’ Fairest and Best, and Players’ Player of the Year. A sensational first year with the Knights earned Jon Mathers the Runner-up Fairest and Best award, while club veteran Stuart Montgomery collected his fifth successive Leading Goalscorer trophy. The Reserves Fairest and Best was taken out by Sime Krsticevic ahead of Aaron Bahadori. Josip Peran won the Youth team Fairest and Best with Jack Rocchi runner-up.
Shane Pryce collected his second club Player of the Year trophy in as many years when Inglewood United honoured their best. Daniel Neiderberger scooped the remaining awards by going home with the Runner-up Player of the Year, Players’ Player of the Year and Top Goalscorer trophies. The Rising Star Award was taken out by Sam Kuzich. Shaun Kilkelly received the Reserves Player of the Year ahead of James Sammutt, and Albert Osei-Tutu collected the Top Goalscorer. The Youth team Player of the Year was awarded to Dylan Stuart with Matthew Worton in second and Sebastian Di Cotter the Top Goalscorer.
There was glory for exciting young midfielder Jason Barrera when Fremantle Spirit presented their awards on the weekend. Barrera’s tireless contributions in the centre of the park earned him his second successive club Fairest and Best trophy. 2007 Gold Medal winner Dale Wingell came in second place, while veteran defender Alex Christie collected the Coaches Award. Jamie Jorqueira received the Reserves Fairest and Best with Luke Doyle and Alain Campher as joint runners-up. The Coaches Award went home with Greg Montenegro. The Youth team Fairest and Best was won by Cameron MacLean, Luke Colasante was runner-up and Blake Kelly collected the Coaches Award.
Tom Shepheard capped a superb season with Swan I.C. by being named the clubs Best and Fairest player. Aaron Cole was runner-up, Shepheard and Damien Scali split the Top Goalscorer and David Perich the swanic.com Player of the Year. David McNally and Michael Tronchin shared the Reserves Best and Fairest. John Monterosso collected his second Top Goalscorer award, and Carlos Echevierra won the swanic.com Player of the Year. Zac Nizich received the Youth teams’ top award with Karl Breen runner-up. Matthew Webb and Shane Webb split the Top Goalscorer, and Jake Da Re won the swanic.com Player of the Year. Tony Trusso was awarded the Clubman of the Year.
Armadale’s top two awards - the Players’ Player of the Year and the Player of the Year - were take out by goalkeeper Cyril Sharrock. Young defender Matt Bennion came in second for the Players’ Player of the year, Steve Skilandis won the Most Improved Player, and Adam Galvin took out the Coaches Award. The Reserves Player of the Year was Jee Van Krishnan with the Coaches Awardgoing to Trent Bushby. Zac Currulli was named the Players’ Player of the Year as well as the Player of the Year of the Youth team.
Attack focused Todd Harnwell collected the Best Player award at Sorrento where creative midfielder Brodie Martin was runner-up. The Most Improved Young Player went to State Schoolboy representative Kyle Stuart, Billy Quinncroft received the Golden Boot Award, and Jared Love was awarded the Best Goal/Save. David Ashworth won the Reserves Best Player ahead of Guy MacDonald. It was tight in the youth team counting also where Todd Ross finished in front of Shane McEntaggart. Derek Harnwell received the Brush of the Year, and Patrick McEntaggart was awarded the Best Club Person.
Wannerooo City’s top award, the Player of the Year, was won by midfielder Craig Cheesman with Simon Woodward and Mark Donnelly joint runners-up. Fraser Glennie picked up the Club Player of the Year after turning out at youth, reserve and first team levels in 2007. The Reserves Player of the Year was taken out by midfielder Jay McDonald who had Bruno Cocca hot on his heels. Nathan Diaz won the under-18’s Player of the Year with Leith Crooks and Tom Lawrence as joint runner-up.
COYNE CONTENT WITH DEFENSIVE ROLE
Don’t expect to see Jamie Coyne following Perth Glory team mate Jamie Harnwell in switching from defence to attack. Coyne’s superb strike late in Saturday’s meeting with Queensland Roar secured Glory a much needed point, however, the 26-year old is far more accustomed - and content - to preventing goals rather than blasting them past the goalkeeper. “It doesn’t happen too often so it feels pretty good,” said Coyne who admits he’ll have a crack if the opportunity presents. “I don’t normally have the chance to get that far forward so I suppose you have to make it count when you do.”
Scoring isn’t completely foreign to Coyne who played the early part of his career as an attacking midfielder with Perth S.C. But since moving into the back third of the park with Glory he’s content on being a provider rather than a finisher. Coyne has scored just three times in 80 national league appearances, however, it’s not something he spends much time on at training during the week. “I’m not allowed,” he said with a chuckle. “Ron (Smith) and Mitch (David Mitchell) don’t let me near the ball in front of goal, I’m usually out wide practicing my crossing!”
While most sides struggled to hit the back of the net in the early part of the season the goals have flowed freely in recent times with 18 goals scored across last weekend’s four A-League fixtures. Glory too have hit their straps with seven goals in their past three outings, however, the more attacking brand has meant more pressure on the boys at the back. “It’s great for the fans having high scoring games, not too good for the defenders,” Coyne said.
“I think at the start of the season most teams are a little more defensive minded and sat back knowing that if you don’t get a win or draw early on you have plenty of games to pick up those points,” Coyne continued. “Now teams are seeing that the league is tight and if you can push forward and score a couple of goals you can get the win and move up the ladder quickly. We are definitely pushing forward a lot more and playing an open game now which can make it more difficult to clog the back half and restrict the opposition but we’re mindful of that and have contingencies to combat it,” he said.
Glory will be seeking revenge when they host Wellington Phoenix on Friday night. The last time the sides met Phoenix triumphed 4-1 and Glory had defender Dino Djulbic sent off. “That was one of the lowest points of the season. Up until the time Dino was sent off we were still in it but unfortunately we lost our composure and let some silly goals in,” Coyne said. “We need to get the three points this week and that is definitely achievable as long as we continue to play with the intensity we’ve shown recently. It will be a great game on Friday and we’re in with a good shot to get the win, no doubt about it.”
HASSELL TAKES OVER AT ALFRED SKEET
Armadale have responded to a tumultuous week by appointing former Perth Glory player Brad Hassell as senior coach for 2008. Hassell leaves his post at Morley Windmills to take over from recently departed pair Billy Russell and Tom Kilkelly. “I’m looking forward to the new challenge at Armadale, and that’s what attracted me to the club,” said Hassell about his new job. “They are a club with a lot of prospects and I believe if we work hard we can do good things down there.”
It’s been a tough year for Armadale who struggled through 2007, winning just five games to end the regulars season in tenth place. Despite the sides lowly placing, Hassell is confident they have what it takes to mount a stronger challenge next year. “There are some talented youngsters at the club who were blooded last season in the first team and that is exciting,” he said. “I will need to bring some experience players to get the mix right, and that will not include myself as my playing days are over.”
Hassell did well with his first senior coaching appointment by guiding Morley to a respectable sixth place in a competitive First Division field this year. The 33-year old thanked all at Wotton Reserve and leaves the club on good terms. “Everyone at the club has wished me well at Armadale which I was real pleased with,’ he said. “I had an agreement with them that if a Premier League club was interested in my services then I would be allowed to talk to them.”
Armadale president Bill Easton could not be happier with the capture of Hassell. “We’re delighted to secure the services of a very good young coach for 2008,” he said. “The past week has been a torrid time for the club but we’ve moved quickly to fill the coaching position and are delighted with the outcome. Brad will be given the full support of the committee and his knowledge of the game from his days in the N.S.L. will be invaluable. He is a very ambitious coach and he’s coming to a very ambitious club, so we are confident we’ve made the right decision.”
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This page was last updated on the 31st December, 2007