Where Are They Now - Gary Marocchi

As Perth Glory Football Club celebrates its 20th anniversary to mark two decades in domestic football, we pay tribute to the heroes and fan favourites of yesteryear.

For the third instalment of 'Where Are They Now', we caught up with WA Football pioneer and Glory's inaugural head coach, Gary Marocchi.

When discussing the rich history of Perth Glory, Marocchi's name and influence are significant to the narrative.

Marocchi, proudly born and bred in WA, first made his name as a midfielder for Perth Azzurri in the old State League where he made his debut as a 16-year-old.

From there, Marocchi went on to enjoy a colourful playing career, which included 13 international caps for Australia with some of those as captain of the Socceroos.

The attacking midfielder enjoyed a healthy stint with Adelaide City in the National Soccer League before returning home to finish his playing career in 1988 where it all began, at Perth Italia (Perth Azzuri).

Marocchi, who coached Glory from its inception in 1996 to 1998, insists the energy of the Perth Oval crowd still holds a special place in his heart after all these years.

"The crowds were packed out," he said.

"Seeing the euphoria of the crowd, the excitement that was created, it was massive," he added.

The coach, who has also had 21 caps for WA, has been a strong advocate for young local talent and said to have been involved in the birth of the club was a joyous and humbling experience.

"It was a proud moment [to be named head coach]," the first soccer inductee into the WA Hall of Champions reflected.

"It was great the club went for a local...it was an honour," he added.

During his time at the helm, Glory recorded some magic moments, including a 3-2 thriller against Melbourne Knights in front of 14,759 fans in the NSL's first season.

"Scott Miller's winner against Melbourne Knights and aeroplane celebration was a definite highlight," Marocchi revealed.

"It was a real eye-opening turning point for us as a club," he explained.

In his first season in charge, Marocchi was nominated for NSL Coach of the Year after Glory narrowly missed out on a finals berth by a solitary point.

Gary Marocchi

The local coach was adored by the Glory faithful, winning them over with an exciting attacking brand of football that continually brought goals and intrigue to the masses.

Marocchi's style brought entertainment to Perth Oval, which played a pivotal role in creating the much-heralded atmosphere and strong footballing culture to the club.

When asked who was his favourite NSL-era player for Perth, Marocchi insisted it was too hard to narrow it down, with the likes of Bobby Despotovski, Scott Miller, Vinko Buljubasic, Gavin Wilkinson, Vas Kalogeracos and the Naven twins all having a significant impact during his tenure.

Marocchi believes the future is bright for Perth Glory, as the former Socceroo praised the work of Glory coach Kenny Lowe and CEO Peter Filopolous for creating a platform for success driven by local talent.

"Filopolous has had a great impact on the club," he said.
 
"Kenny's done very well, he knows the local program very well,

"He was an excellent player in his day, maybe engineer's make great coaches," the Managing Director of the Marocchi Engineering Group joked.

Marocchi believes the high-profile signings of  former Middlesbrough FC captain Rhys Williams and fellow Socceroo Adam Taggart holds the side in good stead to enjoy success in the clubs 20th season.

"If the local guys can blend in well with the likes of Castro, I think they can do very well," Marocchi stated.

The 61-year-old remains heavily involved with WA football, through his role as president of Perth SC, where the Glory women's side will be calling home for the upcoming Westfield W-League season

"We're very pleased to have them at our ground," Marocchi said.

"We'll make every effort to make it a successful season," he added.

Marocchi will be among the group of players, coaches and administrators from the original Glory Team of '96 who will be honoured in the first match of the new Hyundai A-League against the Central Coast Mariners at nib Stadium.

The original line-up will receive a Heritage Jersey (modelled on the original '96 strip) which will be worn by the team for this weekend's clash as part of the club's 20th-anniversary commemorations.

Kick-off for the match is at 7pm.