So on the eve of the Second Elimination Final between Glory and Melbourne City at AAMI Park this Sunday night, PG Online sat down and had an indepth chat with the former Olyroo about the Glory Days of old and asked him how life after football was treating him, and for the first time reveals the personal drama Leeds teammate Mark Viduka experienced the night before his amazing four goal haul against Liverpool on November 4, 2000.
PG: Thanks for joining us Danny. What did Perth Glory give you in terms of a career?
DM: As a young player arriving in Perth, I felt it was a massive opportunity to be at a club with so many higher profile Australian players who I could learn and develop from. The level of expectation was massive due to Glory being a very new entity in the NSL (National Soccer League) and attracting big crowds of 17-18,000 people per home game. I felt there was a good balance between exciting local products, young players and experienced Socceroos and internationals. With such a mixed bag of characters throughout the team, a very charismatic coach Bernd Stange, it made for a very entertaining atmosphere amongst the group at training, club promotions, away trips and match days. This atmosphere allowed and helped nurture players to mature and flourish in a highly anticipated environment. In my eyes Perth Glory was a major catalyst in helping me learn more about the game, about myself and other ambitions I harboured for the future. The club, the members, the supporters, the players and the atmosphere will always hold great sentiment for myself for as long as I live. Making a good save in front of 18,000 fans would give me goosebumps, an adrenaline rush and make me feel 10 feet tall and unbeatable. It was an amazing feeling!
PG: What memories do you have of the Fans:
DM: The fans were amazing! People waiting in long lines to enter the stadium and watch the game! The atmosphere created was nothing short of a European Stadium atmosphere. While opposing teams would dislike playing us at home they enjoyed playing in the the atmosphere. We played Northern Spirit and I can remember Robbie Slater and Graham Arnold commenting during the game on how great an atmosphere it was to play in. Seeing as both those guys returned from Europe to play in the NSL, that level of praise from them was a massive compliment to the Perth Glory Supporters.
I remember I use to throw my gloves into the crowd after matches, especially if I had a good game and the buzz around the place was electric. I never really thought about those gloves until someone showed me a picture of the gloves and the young boy who caught them. When I first returned to Glory as part of the coaching staff we were playing in a pre season friendly match at a local venue. A local match official Josh Manella, who now is an assistant referee in the A league was that young boy who caught those gloves. I always joke with him about the profound effect catching those gloves had on him back in the day and turning him into a top line official rather then a top class goalkeeper.!
PG: What memories do you have of The Shed?
DM: The shed always gave us great support! It was the catalyst and driving force for the team for its success! It was immense for the club and still is to this day. The fans would always create a brilliant atmosphere with the singing and chanting, especially the chanting against the opposition keepers and players was brilliant! It was always done with great humour and with great respect for the opponent. The players had a very good bond with the Shed and the fans. We felt as a club and team it was important to repay the fans for the unwavering support they gave us. Small groups of players would attend supporter club functions to show solidarity, unity and the importance of that bond.
PG:What memories do you have of playing in Perth?
DM: The City Perth is an awesome place! To play football, live in a beautiful city, have great supporters, what more could anybody ask for. I think the players who have played here have an eternal bond with the city! The club would get the players to run with community events around Perth and WA. The Glory Van with Trailer, driven by one of the players would be seen criss crossing the city and state. A total of 6 players would assist in the inflation and deflation of the famous Glory Inflatable Goal. In this day and age the inflatable goal would be deemed an OH&S risk but back 20 years ago was a great sense of laughter, comedy, injury and fun at the same time. I witnessed many an intoxicated person think they were Mark Schwarzer and come undone by the legendary piece of promotional equipment. What goes up, must come down and normally on a giant inflatable mattress the only outcome was them getting bounced and onto the tarmac below.
PG: What parallels do you see between the Glory of old and the Glory of today and how important is it to celebrate the 20th anniversary?
DM: The club's 20th anniversary is momentous! The club has continued to evolve as the years have progressed. Anniversaries mean the club has a history, a foundation, an identity, generations of supporters/sponsors who like myself have seen the club's growth and progression to be a leader in Australia and eventually Asia. The past experiences (20 years) from the collective Perth Glory family will ultimately propel the club to future glory. Right across the board, the fans, the sponsors (QBE Insurance 20 years), the boardroom, the office staff, players and staff, volunteers, ball kids, the solidarity and support from all these areas makes Perth Glory!
PG: Was your time at Perth Glory pivotal and defining in getting you to Leeds?
DM: Coming back from Germany to join Perth Glory was the best thing for my career. I was still very much immature in goalkeeping terms for a stint in Germany! While I loved every moment in Germany it was a shock to the footballing system in terms of lifestyle, language and other things. Coming back to Perth to play in this environment and learning the game helped me mature and grow to understand the game better. This in turn assisted me getting a move overseas to Leeds.
PG: You played alongside Mark Viduka, Harry Kewell and Jacob Burns at Leeds. What was that experience like?
DM: It was great having the Aussies at Leeds and one Kiwi in former defender Danny Hay. He left for Leeds six months prior to Burnsy and I arriving. He was also a great character. We had a great little contingent from Australia and NZ. I think at one count it was six Aussies and a Kiwi! He was just about Aussie anyway apart from his accent! We shared some pretty amazing experiences travelling around the UK and Europe. The whole team was very young with an average age of 22 I believe. Even, Michael Bridges, was with us and now an honorary Aussie living in Newcastle and playing for the Jets. We all have great memories, experiences and stories about that time. Not only were these guys talented footballers plying their trade on the world stage, they were great guys who loved life to the fullest. We all try to keep in touch where possible, Harry involved in management, working together with Burnsy, Vidukes in between Australia, Croatia and the UK.
PG: Can you share some stories? What about the night before Viduka scored four goals against Liverpool ?
DM: The kick-off for Leeds vs Liverpool was 11.30am Sunday. The night before I'm in a hotel room with Mark Viduka. About 9.45pm I am ready to go to sleep. About 15mins later Mark's wife calls the room to say that she heard a noise around the house and the dogs were barking. We would always stay in a hotel night before a game even if we were playing at home at Elland Rd. Another 30 minutes passed another phone call, dogs still not settled! So Vidukes decided to start making turkish coffee in the room around 10.30 at night bearing in mind kick off is less then 13 hours away. After several calls late into the night , Mark finally goes to sleep very very late, maybe around 2-3am, even later. I remember saying to him that he was going to be extremely tired in the morning. His response was always bullish and that everything would always be ok. And he was always right, self assured in a non righteous way, always optimistic, positive and unfazed by the enormity of the match in the morning. A legendary Liverpool team faced a young Leeds that day. Viduka, on not much sleep and after several turkish coffees, scored some of the most brilliant goals on that day, four in fact to make it 4-3!
His wife, kids and dogs were all safe from that evening and no one was found to be loitering around the family home while he was at the hotel.