There aren't many fans around the world that would collect their belongings and relocate to get a membership to their favourite football club.
It’s easy to take for granted how great it is to watch the Hyundai A-League in our hometown. It’s a wonderful luxury we can enjoy in Perth unlike those from other cities, such as Darwin, who miss out on experiencing regular football week-in, week-out.
That luxury is something Glory Super Fan and Darwinite, Ellen Roe, simply couldn’t pass up on.
So last week, when I returned to Darwin, where I was born and lived for the first 13 years of my life before eventually going on to work in Glory’s media department, I wasn't going to miss the chance to meet the person who thought she was a bigger Glory fan than me!
I arranged to meet Ellen at 3:30pm on Wednesday over a coffee at the iconic Cool Spot on East Point Road in the scenic suburb of Fannie Bay, armed with an arsenal of questions about being a Darwinite Glory fan like myself.
Amazingly, Ellen, on very short notice, turned up in her full Glory heritage kit! She later explained that donning the full Glory kit is a regular occurence and as an avid cyclist, she proudly wears her Glory gear every time she moves around town on her bike.
We grabbed a coffee, sat in the corner of the shop right under the air-conditioner (a necessity in 31-degree-Darwin!) and got going. And by the end of our chat, I very well realised that Ellen is not just one of our most dedicated fans in Darwin, but throughout the whole country.
We want to say a big thank you to her for making time for us and sharing her photographs from over the years, which you can see in the article below.
So Ellen, also known as PGFC Darwin Fan #1, how’s your day in the Top End going?
Pretty good. I’m getting ready to come back down to Perth again for the new season.
Now, I remember exactly when I became a Perth Glory fan. It was 27th December 2003, when I was a 10-year-old Darwin boy holidaying in Perth. My father took me to Perth Oval, now nib Stadium, to see our boys belt the Brisbane Strikers 6-1.
But how did you become a fan of the club?
Well, I’ve always been a little bit interested because I went to play the bagpipes in 2002 for Glory. I followed but I wasn’t passionate yet, just interested. That was until they came up here to Darwin when the new Larrakia Football Stadium opened and played a pre-season game against Melbourne Victory, winning 2-1.
Yes. We’ve got a framed montage of the event in the office, actually.
And it was then I decided. That was it for me.
Fantastic. And there aren't many things better than beating Victory of course...
Of course! And the following year we had the Olyroos up here and I met them all at the reception in Parliament House.
At that time Danny Vukovic, Nikolai Topor-Stanley and Tando Velaphi were in the squad and at the reception, which was nice. That made the football even more interesting.
Recognise any current Hyundai A-League players in the Olyroos squad in Darwin in 2008?
Do you remember what it was like in the NSL days when you played the bagpipes?
It was very exciting, but because I was focused on what I was meant to do, I didn’t really soak it in that much.
Fair enough! So where do you watch Perth Glory games from now?
Up until last year, I used to travel down five times a year to see Perth Glory games.
I have family there as well. I would go down to the breakfast launch and the Most Glorious Player Awards night. Then my husband retired from work the year before last, so I persuaded him to get us to move down for the Glory season in Perth. We went down at the beginning of the season and came back at the end.
Wait, wait, wait… so you moved from Darwin to Perth for six months for Perth Glory?
Yeah. We rent a property down there for six months every year now
WHAT?! That is some serious dedication!
We rent down there for Glory; that’s the main purpose. I mean, we have family down there, but Glory… comes first (she says sheepishly)!
So do you have any special game-day rituals?
I get my kit on and usually try to get to the ground early so I can wander around and get the feel for the game before I start. I usually go around to The Shed and talk to a few members. I’m always fighting with myself: do I want to be in The Shed or in my seat (because I’ve got a Gold Plus seat)? My seat is right up near where the players come out. I’ve got to know a few of them and they wave at me, which is really nice. I’ll miss a few that left last season!
Who are the players you get a wave from?
Nebo (Marinkovic), Dino (Djulbic), Aryn (Williams)…
All good guys.
I’m just going to miss them so much. Brandon (Wilson) is still there, though.
Of course. Brandon is a great guy too.
So that’s what I normally do, I talk to people in The Shed and then go back around and find my seat. I also try to get to the away games in Melbourne because I’m friendly with the Victorian Association of Glory Fans. I just love going to away games with them. Do you know Lincoln…
Bertelli – yep!
And um… Dave?
Winkless – yep! Those two often go; they’re good value, those guys.
Oh yes. We’ve got Brendan Elsegood, Justin Brown, Mike Stanniforth and a few of the other ones there too. So I try and go over for at least a couple of away games if I can. I feel a bit guilty that I moved to Perth and now want to go to away games too!
No such thing as too much of a good thing! (but #LiveLighter, people!)
I’ve already booked Melbourne for November for that match at AAMI Park. In January I have to drop by Darwin again to check on our apartment, so I’ve booked to go from Perth to Melbourne, Melbourne to Brisbane for a game, Brisbane to Darwin and then back home!
So we can coin it the Ellen Roe National Tour of Duty?
Yes! Getting two away games in the process, I’m excited for it.
Fantastic. Shifting focus, I played my junior football at Port Darwin FC for seven years before I moved to Perth. But I understand in the NorZone NPL you support one of our rivals, Westfield FFA Cup participants, Darwin Rovers. So what’s behind your love for them?
Well, I had never really got into local football up here, but this year I heard the Rovers were playing. Because I’m very fond of the Irish, I decided I’d go along. I went to a game and sat down next to the coach's wife and didn’t realise it at the time. We were chatting all game and then after the game, she took me down and introduced me to the players and to her husband. So I got really involved from that moment on. It’s proved to be something great to fill the gap during the off-season.
They played against Sydney FC in the FFA Cup, so I said I’d learn the 'Fields of Athenry' and I played it for them. I was terribly, terribly nervous. I had three days to learn it. They were thrilled to bits that I played it for them, but I was upset about my performance. I was so nervous and everything was against me, but I’m glad I did it because they enjoyed it.
Of course. So like me, during the FFA Cup draw, did your heart sink when Glory just missed out on a Round of 32 trip to Darwin?
No, actually I was quite glad. The reason being, I wanted to go for the Rovers and go for Glory, even though the Rovers coach wanted to play Glory! I wanted to put my whole heart into both games and didn’t want that conflicting thing happening.
Buit if it came down to it, I’d definitely support Glory over the Rovers.
Don’t tell the coach – we’ll keep that on the down low...
I’ve been a member of the Glory for too long not to support them against anyone.
Me too. Next one: do you think we’ll win against Chelsea FC in our 2018 friendly?
(Ellen goes wide-eyed momentarily and takes a big gulp...)
Ooh….. we could do! We’ve got our Spanish players and I can’t see why we wouldn’t have a good go at it.
What’s your prediction for Glory’s upcoming Hyundai A-League season?
I think we’ll make the finals this year. We’ve had a slow start, which is disappointing, but I hope we get more pre-season games. Had we stayed in the Cup we would’ve had a few more. We usually start slow anyway.
Who is your favourite player today and why?
Last season or this season?
That’s a tough one because I haven’t got involved with the season yet. I think Liam Reddy is really good. I’m impressed with what he does. From an emotional point of view, Brandon Wilson is my favourite, but on the pitch, it’s Reddy.
And finally, have you renewed your membership for season 2017-18?
Yes. Gold plus again!
Fantastic. Thank you very much Ellen, it’s been a pleasure to catch up.