The 11th season of Hyundai A-League action for Perth Glory has been arguably Perth Glory’s greatest comeback story.
Our hearts were broken from the salary cap crisis last season, causing many pundits and analysts to write-off Perth Glory to finish in the bottom two.
The season started slowly, as Glory was anchored to the bottom of the table while the club pushed for its first Westfield FFA Cup Final.
For some, it seemed the fate of our season; until one game forced the drastic change of course for our Hyundai A-League campaign. That is where we start our story of Glory’s Season 11.
The Turning Point: Round 8
When you sink to the deepest point, you get the chance to push from the bottom up and spark some momentum to break through the surface. Our November 27 clash against Melbourne City was precisely that.
This one hurt to watch; Glory was outplayed at AAMI Park by a rampant City side, going down 5-1 on the day. The result forced Glory to take action; the players pulled up their socks, while Kenny Lowe and CEO Peter Filopoulos begun to plot the January mid-season recruitment drive.
Three Home Games, Seven Points: Rounds 10, 5 (postponed) and 11
It was coined the ‘nine-point week’ by then-Glory defender Michael Thwaite; in his words, “the chance for us to turn our season around” as Glory faces Central Coast Mariners, Melbourne Victory and then-ladder leaders Western Sydney Wanderers all in one week at nib Stadium in mid-December.
After falling behind 1-0 to the Mariners in the first match, ‘The Specialist’ Nebojsa Marinkovic scored two smart goals for a gritty 2-1 victory at nib Stadium.
Glory then defeated Victory 1-0 mid-week courtesy of a Castro tap in, before a 10-man Glory performed admirably in a spirited 2-2 draw with the in-form Wanderers courtesy of a brilliant Mitch Oxborrow free kick.
It was an undefeated week that gave Glory a sense of belief; the club jumped from last to 8th, and a certain Diego Castro began to flaunt his exceptional talent.
Keogh, Lowry & Vadocz arrive at Perth Glory
Surely Kenny Lowe’s signing spree has to be considered the best use of the mid-season signing window in Hyundai A-League history.
Lowe picked up three very crucial players to Glory’s success; Andy Keogh, who would go on to score 10 goals in his next 14 games; Shane Lowry, who slotted in defence perfectly for the injured Dino Djulbic and the recent departed Michael Thwaite; and Krisztian Vadocz, who has been brilliant in the middle of the park since his signing.
Lowe also picked up Kosta Petratos who looks an exciting prospect for the near future.
Glory rev up to top gear: Round 16 & 17
After a gritty 2-2 draw at home against Melbourne City, all eyes in the West were on Glory’s trip to Newcastle. Glory went into half time with a 2-1 lead, before the boys turned up the heat. Diego Castro was brilliant, orchestrating four second half goals to see Perth claim their biggest winning margin in A-League history, with a 6-1 victory in the Hunter Valley.
Then in Round 17, it was Victory & Besart Berisha visiting the West once again. The match was tied at 2-2 after Berisha’s double cancelled Glory’s early two goal lead.
Andy Keogh won a penalty in the 82nd minute. Up stepped Diego Castro facing Danny Vukovic in front of the Shed; Castro chipped his ‘Panenka’ penalty to the left of the ex-Glory custodian to seal a 3-2 win. That Panenka exemplified the fearlessness of this new, reinvigorated Perth Glory, and set strong foundations for what was to become a memorable winning run for the club.
Glory hit Brisbane Roar for six: Round 20
After Glory defeated Jets & Victory, they went on to pick up two away wins against Wellington Phoenix and Sydney FC, before returning to face league leaders Brisbane Roar. A win against the Queenslanders would give Glory their fifth consecutive win, and the Glory got it done in spectacular style.
In an end-to-end match of attacking football, Glory prevailed 6-3 over Roar, the equal-highest scoring match in Hyundai A-League history and the first time one team contributed six different goal scorers in one match. It was a game that clearly stated one thing; Glory meant business, and on their best day, could completely dismantle any of the league’s best teams.
The Reality Check; round 26 and 27
A lot will point at the Sydney FC loss in isolation, but in truth, Glory took their foot off the pedal once they went 3-0 up against Melbourne City in Round 26. Courtesy of goals from Andy Keogh, Gyorgy Sandor and a spectacular strike from Diego Castro, Glory were cruising above then-league leaders Melbourne City. City snatched two late goals to put pressure on Glory, but the boys from the West held on for a 3-2 victory. Fast-forward one week, and Glory were humbled 4-0 on away turf to a spirited Sydney FC.
It was a timely reminder of the do-or-die nature of the A-League for Perth Glory heading into the finals.
Seeing how the Melbourne City drubbing in Round 8 re-energised the team, it’s safe to say that Glory won’t go down in the finals without a fight.