31-year-old American Kaleb Pier currently resides in Green Bay, Wisconsin, no less than 17,508 kilometres from nib Stadium.
A few years ago, he discovered the Hyundai A-League and after a few months of watching all the teams, knew Perth Glory was the one for him. Fast-forward to today and he is the proud owner of a Glory kit and stays up to watch our Twitter coverage of each match.
Fascinated by his story, we got in touch and arranged an interview over Skype to learn more about Kaleb and his Glory fandom.
The full interview is transcribed below; enjoy!
Good evening Kaleb! We just finished lunch here in Western Australia, what’s the time over there in Green Bay, Wisconsin?
It’s almost midnight, 11:50pm.
It’s pretty late, it’s a crazy time difference and obviously we’re playing a game in two hours against Melbourne City, so what time are you usually up at to follow Glory games?
It depends on the match, really. Last time we were away in Wellington, it was a very early match so it was about 9.30pm in the evening. However most of the time, I would say I’m watching between 3am and 5am.
That’s great commitment. So do you watch on TV or follow on Twitter?
I used to watch them on TV all the time when the A-League was on here, before they took it off cable, so now I follow it on social media; Instagram, Facebook, whatever I can get my hands on. I do my best to support the boys.
So you’re American born and you’ve never been to Perth, Western Australia?
Not yet but it’s definitely on top of my list though!
In that case you’ve obviously never been to a Perth Glory match, so how did you become a fan of the club?
Well, before Glory it was the A-League actually because I love watching live sports. Due to my work schedule, working in the evenings and the later part of the day, I don’t get home until 11pm, so often times what will happen is I miss all the live sports here. I follow a lot of teams and try to keep up as best I can, but when you can’ t actually watch the games it’s difficult.
So one day I was channel surfing, which I almost never do as I have a plan with how to spend my free time. But one day I was flipping channels and there was live soccer on TV and I thought that was amazing. So I made sure to make that appointment viewing every weekend, when my channel would show one or two matches per weekend and I would just consume as much of it as possible, because there’s something about watching a live match as opposed to a replay. It’s easier, it’s more fun, there’s a level of exclusivity to it. I felt like I was the only person in whatever square-mile radius that was watching it.
So A-League was first and then Glory came later. Maybe two or three months into my A-League interest, I picked a club.
Awesome! So tell me, when you started watching and you’re seeing clubs like Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC, these teams that are perhaps the bigger clubs in the league, what made you pick Perth Glory?
I never liked the big clubs. When I first got into soccer, after the FIFA World Cup in Germany in ’06, it was the very trendy thing in America to look over at England and pick a team from the Premier League; Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea or Liverpool, but that was never my style. So instead of the big clubs, I was looking at the smaller clubs and I said “forget that, why don’t I go up to Scotland?”
So actually my favourite club is Heart of Midlothian or Hearts in Edinburgh and that was the exact reason I picked Perth. I never liked the big clubs, I never wanted to follow Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, all of those. The fact that Perth is so far out, with all due respect to West Australians, I know there’s other people that live there, but I’m saying in the general scheme of things, there’s 1000 miles between you and any other significant population and I just think that’s awesome. I don’t know why, I wish I could tell you! If you print this I’m going to sound like a lunatic, but it just was a brilliant thing to see a city on the other side of the country that no one looks at, no one cares about except for your fans. I was hooked and that was the beginning.
That’s an awesome reason! I’ll tell you what, just because you’ve never been to Perth before, we actually take our isolation with a lot of pride!
(Kaleb laughs out loud)
It can be a burden, of course, but we’re very proud of being one of the most isolated cities in the world, I believe. So it’s a big pride thing here, we have this West vs Rest mentality, so it’s definitely something we love too, you’re not alone in that one. I think you’re definitely a worthy Perth Glory fan!
So when you wear your Perth Glory kit, as you’re wearing right now, around America’s North-West, what reaction do you usually get from people?
Mid-West! But that’s okay…
You’re fine! Soccer jerseys are getting more and more popular actually, and you know all the time you’ll see Arsenal, you’ll see Chelsea, Manchester United wherever you go. There’s a lot of Mexican immigrants here too, so you’ll see all sorts of America, Cruz Azul, Santos, Monterrey, all the big clubs from Mexico, so to see a soccer team in general isn’t such a big deal here.
Perth Glory, no one really sees or can see what this is. Now purple in these parts is an enemy colour, because there’s fans of the home town Green Bay Packers and our number one rival is the Minnesota Vikings who wear purple.
So I don’t get as many glares as they can see it’s not a Vikings jersey and I’m grateful because I’m not a Vikings fan! For the most part, people don’t look twice to answer your question.
Ok, have you got a name on the back of your jersey?
I do, I have my own name PIER on the back and my favourite number is 46, so I got that too.
Nice! There’s no 46 at Glory at the moment so you’d definitely easily slip into the squad. You’ll get your debut soon so just hang on!
Ha! So Liam Reddy is the highest with 33 right?
Completely correct. Talking players, who is your favourite at Perth Glory?
I think it’s the tourist thing to do to say the strikers but I just love Andy Keogh. So many players on the team play with passion, but for some reason he just seems like he’s a little bit different. I love the way he goes about it, he seems so joyous when he scores a goal; he’s my favourite easily. I’ve had a lot of favourites over the years but Keogh right now for sure.
Off the pitch he’s just as passionate too and he’s very much about the club. Moving on to this season, you haven’t watched any games, but what have you made so far of how we’re going.
Seven points from seven (now 10 from 8 after our big 3-1 win over City). It’s tough to handle coming off 5-2 against Phoenix. We’re better than that and I know we are. We’re never going to be up the top with Victory and Sydney… Jets are top though aren’t they?
Yes Jets are top, surprise package and Victory’s below us at the moment.
Ah right. You know we’ve just won a couple of away matches in the past few years so we just have to be better on the road. That’s my only critique on the team. I know they have a lot of talent on the pitch. Of course with Castro being one of the best players in the country. I’m confident, but just a little worried we have the seven points (now 10) at the moment.
True, as we’ve seen, Glory have tended to be slow starters, so we’re hoping for a mid-season turnaround when these talents, new and old, come together and push us up the table.
So other than Perth Glory, do you support football generally in America? Soccer I should say!
I don’t watch any Major League Soccer actually, maybe my plate is full with all the various sports that I support. As you know, Hearts of Midlothian is the team I support, I have the jersey and I send them money. It’s a fan-owned club so I pledge to them. And my favourite English club would be Norwich City. They’re also very isolated too if anyone is wondering…
I’m sensing a theme here!
I wish I could support football here though. Chicago Fire is only a few hours away from me, so I could go to matches, but I just can’t keep track of all the American sports I follow. I wish I could but I just don’t.
Are you a big fan of the US National Team?
Yeah I try to be, but right now… it’s tough! I’ll never abandon my country, I’ll always root for America, but man that was a tough one to watch.
America just missed that play-off and that shocked us here in Australia too. So when you saw our Socceroos defeat Honduras in the play-off, were you sad for CONCACAF (the North American football confederation) or were you happy one of your rivals went down?
I will never root for another rival, no matter who it is. I don’t have CONCACAF affiliation, I root for America, that’s all I care about. For the most part I don’t root for Honduras because of CONCACAF; it doesn’t make sense to me.
Is that a thing in Australia, to root for clubs from the A-League in the Asian Champions League?
You know, funnily enough, the answer to that is we do support other A-League clubs. It’s a bit of a double-edged sword. Say if we see Melbourne Victory trip over in the Champions League, we have a quiet chuckle to ourselves, but if they win, we do fly the Aussie flag and we’re proud of our league because we want to see it grow.
On the international scene, I’d say we have a very respectful rivalry with Japan and South Korea which, from what I can understand, is a bit different from the USA-Mexico rivalry in CONCACAF?
I would say I absolutely respect Mexico because they’ve been the biggest fish in this pond for decades and they will continue to be that for decades more. There’s no stick I could give them because they’re the biggest and baddest dog on the block.
But anyway, I still enjoy seeing them fail. It’s not my least favourite thing in the world!
It’s probably reciprocated from them too! I spent some time in New York working for Major League Soccer myself and got to learn the rivalry; it’s a pretty fierce one but a fun one too.
So when the World Cup rolls around in June and July next year, will you support our Socceroos or will you pick someone else?
I will… you know what… you put me on the spot and I will say yes, how about that?!
I will root for the Socceroos! Mark that down.
Kaleb, we appreciate your support, we appreciate you taking the time to answer our questions today and your appreciation of our club from so far away is not only fascinating, but also touching. We hope you enjoy our Twitter coverage and hopefully get your cable coverage back to watch the Glory on a more regular basis. We do notice you from afar and good on you!
Thank you very much.
<squeezes it in> Go Glory!