GLORY PAIR AVOID SUSPENSION
Jamie Harnwell and Adrian Webster escaped an immediate suspension but have been fined half a week’s wages by Perth Glory over their punch-up following Thursday’s draw with Adelaide United. The pair had to be pulled apart on the pitch, and reportedly again in the dressing room, after frustrations over Glory’s on-field failures this season boiled over. The club today announced Harnwell and Webster had been given a suspended one-match ban, plus the maximum fines under the A-League code of conduct, an official reprimand and pay a $1000 ‘good behaviour bond’.
Glory chief executive Michelle Phillips said the incident was now over as far as the club was concerned. “They are both very embarrassed and very remorseful over the incident,”' Phillips said. “But when we drive out of the gates this afternoon for us the whole incident is over and what we have got to focus on now … is working out how we are going to beat Melbourne Victory. They did apologise to each other. They have walked out of the room team mates, they have apologised and certainly said it was a one-off, isolated incident - there was nothing leading up to that.'”
Coach Ron Smith said he would have been more worried if the players had not made their peace. “They want to show people there are no ill feelings, it is over and done with, they have made their apologies and we have got to get on with it,” Smith said. “If that wasn’t the case it would be far more serious ... everybody has got the same intention, they regret what has happened, we do as a club, I certainly do as a coach. We have made it clear there is a zero tolerance. But whilst nobody likes it, or condones it, it is a fact of life that it happens.”
ANNUAL ALL-STARS NAMED
Each year footballwa.net honours those players who have consistently captured our attention over the winter months with inclusion in the unofficial All-Stars squad. This year's squad includes a number of familiar faces along with eleven players making their first appearance in our squads. With another year about to tick over the time is ripe to pay tribute to the twenty-two players selected in the 2006 Premier League All-Stars team and Shadow Squad.
CLUB TO PROBE POST-GAME ALTERCATION
Football officials are to investigate the incident between Perth Glory captain Jamie Harnwell and team mate Adrian Webster following last night's draw with Adelaide United. The pair had to be dragged apart when they began trading punches following the final whistle and it's understood the altercation continued in the change room after the game, prompting the club to order an investigation into the incident. "Obviously there has been a lot of interest in what happened on-field last night and I'd like to express how disappointed we are as a club with the incident," said Glory chief exectutive Michelle Phillips.
"It is out of character for the two players and our focus is now on reviewing the matter fully and ensuring we complete the due process," Phillips added. "We will be having discussions with the players involved tomorrow and sitting down face to face to look at the appropriate course of action. The incident falls under the Hyundai A-League code of conduct and there are various sanctions within that and we'll look at what sanctions we're going to implement tomorrow. It is a serious incident and that's why we are making sure we're taking action sooner rather than later, however saying that, we do want to follow the due process and to me it's not about how slow or fast that happens but making sure we get it right."
GLORY EARN FIGHTING DRAW WITH ADELAIDE
A post-match altercation between Adrian Webster and Jamie Harnwell has overshadowed this evenings fighting 0-0 draw with Adelaide United. With the Glory players about to embark on a lap of thanks to their home fans, Webster pushed Harnwell in the face and threw two punches at his captain before being restrained by coach Ron Smith. "Something was said and that's about all I can say at this stage, and I'll have to find out exactly what happened and get to the bottom of it when everyone has calmed down and is not emotional about it," said Smith at the post-match press conference. "In the heat of the battle, when you've got frustration and disappointment if someone says the wrong thing sometimes the result is players having a go at each other."
The visitors settled the quickest in the warm conditions and carved out the better of chances as Fernando headed wide, Travis Dodd fired past the post and Carl Veart's snap shot was well held by Tommi Tomich. Glory's first chance arrived after 10 minutes when Simon Colosimo intelligently switched play to Mark Lee whose cross from the left was slammed wide by Naum Sekulovski. The visitors continued to enjoy the better of possession and in quick succession spurned two golden opportunities. In the 19th minute Fernando miss-hit the ball wide when in plenty of space, and shortly after Nathan Burns' weak effort from close range had the same result. The tempo of the game slowed as the conditions began to take their toll. David Micevski fired wide for the home side while down the other end an alert Tomich pushed Veart's shot around the post. Tomich came to Glory's rescue again just before the break by denying Fernando.
It was a quiet opening to the second half with Adelaide continuing to be the more productive. A cross from Mathew Kemp evaded Fernando by the narrowest of margins, and on the hour a Fernando shot on the turn rolled the wrong side of the upright. A Glory counter attack had Leo Bertos pick out Jamie Coyne but his effort was beyond the target. Tomich continued his stellar performance by reacting smartly to a Ross Aloisi shot that took a nasty deflection on the way through a large pack of players in the box. Adelaide had the ball in the net on 74 minutes through Fernando but his effort was ruled out for offside. The pace was frantic in the final ten minutes as both sides threw caution to the wind. Substitute Luka Glavas found himself on the end of a quality cross from Lee but the youngster could only direct his header straight at Daniel Beltrame. An injury time strike from Bobby Petta was deflected wide, and from the resulting corner Fernando headed over when unmarked.
SORRENTO EYE BACK-TO-BACK CHAMPIONSHIPS
Plans are afoot in the northern suburbs for Sorrento to mount a success defence of their Premier League title. The Gulls took out top honours last term by an impressive nine-point margin and Steve Neville has no intention of sitting on his laurels when season 2007 comes around. “We had a great season last season and it was a whole team effort and I hope we can continue next season,” commented the Gulls dedicated coach.
Since winning last seasons’ title Sorrento have lost a number of key personnel. Scott Miller and Brad Hassell have moved into coaching with Cockburn City and Morley Windmills, respectively, Michael Ord has signed with Perth S.C. while Simon Harland has moved abroad. “We will miss the experience and quality of Miller, Hassell and Harland, but we have a lot of talented youngsters coming up through the ranks,” explained Neville. “We have also re-signed Steve McDonald and Stuart Banks as well as Wanneroo youngster Daniel Taylor.”
As the junior director of football at Percy Doyle Reserve it’s Neville who is responsible for preparing the clubs youngsters for life in the State League. “I’ve been doing the junior role for three years and now we’re reaping the benefits,” he said. “We’ve had young lads come up through the 18’s and they are now training with the first team. It could be a good year for them if they work hard and put it in they will get a chance, if they don’t they will fall by the wayside - it’s up to them.”
Neville enjoyed a lengthy and successful career as a player in which he made over 500 appearances and scored in excess of 100 goals for Southampton, Sheffield United, Exeter City and Bristol City. “I played at Wembley twice with Bristol City in the Fright Rover Trophy, and I won league championships with Sheffield United and Exeter City,” he reflected. “I also played at Tottenham in front of 50,000 which was special as I’ve support the Spurs since I was young and there were a number of family and friends there to watch it.”
WESTERN QBE RE-JOINS GLORY
Perth Glory have been re-acquainted with insurance firm Western QBE who’ll be the clubs major sponsor through to the end of the 2007/08 season. The company severed ties with Glory at the end of last season after governing body Football Federation Australia signed insurance rival Zurich to a league-wide deal. Western QBE cited a breach of exclusivity as the catalyst for bringing to an end the eight-year relationship.
Western QBE spokesman Jules di Bartolomeo said he had never ruled out renewing a sponsorship arrangement with Glory. “We just wanted to take some time to stand back and see what happened,” he said. “There’s an enormous equity in our relationship and despite a difficult season Perth Glory remains an iconic sporting organisation throughout Australia.” Although neither the club nor the insurance firm would reveal the financial details of the new deal it’s believed to be worth around $300,000.
GLORY WITH PLENTY TO PLAY FOR
Futures are on the line as Perth Glory head into the final weeks of the season. More than half the squad will be out of contract at the end of current campaign and coach Ron Smith has made it clear the next month will determine who should be retained for next season. “If we had finished top of the league then you would expect maybe an awful lot of the players to be retained and have contracts renewed,” he explained. “When that doesn’t happen, you have to review the whole playing staff.”
“We’ve got a number of players who are quite young and in my view need more game time. You can’t always do that in the A-League,” Smith added. “I guess it’s a question of now looking at the balance of the squad as well. It’s not just about players and whether they are good enough or experienced enough. We have an imbalance in the squad in a number of positions, so that needs to be addressed as well … it’s at that time of the year now.”
GAMBLERS NARROWLY MISS OUT AT NATIONAL FINALS
Johnny Casino and the Gamblers took out third place at the national finals of the 2006 Vodafone Shield in Sydney recently. The all-star team, which featured players from Perth S.C., Swan I.C., Balcatta and Stirling Panthers, made the trip east after successfully defending their State title in October. The Gamblers squad consisted of Damien Catalano, Tony Cumace, Michael Di Fulvio, Michael Icanovski, Perry Ielati, Nick Paone and goalkeeper Gianni Papalia.
The Gamblers made a flying start to their finals campaign with an impressive win over one of the pre-tournament favourites, New South Wales, courtesy of goals from Paone and Catalano. Although Catalano and Cumace found the net in their second outing it was Queensland who took out maximum points by a 5-2 scoreline. And the Gamblers participation in the play-off round looked slim after going down 2-0 to South Australia’s representative.
Needing victory in their final group match to qualify for the semi-finals, the Gamblers powered to a 5-3 win over Victoria with Catalano bagging two and singles from Paone, Icanovski and Di Fulvio. It was a superb team effort from the boys from the west and a round of four showdown with Queensland was the reward. Unfortunately, the Gamblers would progress no further as Queensland ran out 3-1 winners. The tournament was won by New South Wales who beat Queensland 2-1 to book their place at the international Vodafone Cup final in Athens.
Speaking after the tournament, Di Fulvio said he was pleased with how the Gamblers played in Sydney. “It was fantastic to be there again and to be the only team from last year,” he said. “We performed better as an outfit this year and gave ourselves a good shot at winning with some good football throughout the tournament. The fact we beat New South Wales who went on to win the tournament was a bit frustrating but the boys played their guts out which is all we could’ve asked for. Any trip away with eight close mates is always going to be special and the memories will stay with us for a very long time.”
OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS FOR MICEVSKI
Young midfielder David Micevski will showcase his wares over the closing weeks of the A-League season. Game time as been hard to come by this term for Micevski whose made just two starts plus seven appearances off the bench for Perth Glory. However, coach Ron Smith has revealed the 20-year old will be given a solid run in the sides four remaining games. “I planned to use Dave in the last two games but unfortunately he fell sick and didn’t make the road trip,” Smith said. “I think Dave is capable of playing either as an attacking midfield player or someone who is going to sit in and hold the ground a little bit in the middle of the park. So depending on the line-up of the team he’ll be one of the two.”
Micevski, who is contracted for next season, admitted he had felt frustrated at his lack of opportunities but said he was eager to prove his worth to the squad over the next month. “My last full 90-minute game was during the pre-season, so I’m definitely excited to be playing,” Micevski said. “Obviously the next four games I’m going to try to prove a point and show him (Smith) I can play at the top level and show Ron I am worthy of a start next season. So these next four games are going to be vital for me. I want to try and play to the best ability as I can because I know I can play. I want to try and prove and show them what I can do for next season.”
The 'staff' of www.footballwa.net would like to wish all our readers a very merry Christmas, a joyous New Year and most importantly a safe holiday period. In next week's update - our final one for the year - we plan to honour those players that impressed us the most during the past twelve months with the announcement of the 2006 Premier League All-Stars team and Shadow Squad.
TOWNSEND SPLITS WITH GLORY
Perth Glory defender Ryan Townsend has had his contract terminated by mutual consent in order to seek playing opportunities elsewhere. Since joining Glory towards the end of last season 19-year old Townsend has been limited to just three appearances, only one of which has been during the clubs' current A-League campaign. "Ryan is a hard working player who always displayed a first class attitude to his preparation and training," said coach Ron Smith. "I wish him every success in his future endeavours in football." Townsend has spent the past few weeks on trial with Indonesian club Persiba Balikpapan following permission from the Glory management.
MACDONALD RETURNS TO GULLS NET
The past eighteen months have given Steve MacDonald a substantial taste for life as a professional footballer. In late 2005 the towering defender was spotted playing for Sorrento by then Motherwell coach Terry Butcher. An offer to trials with club was taken up by MacDonald who, having impressed in trials, signed a short term contract to play in Scotland’s top flight. And when that deal expired he headed to Singpaore for a season with Sengkang Punggol.
On the first night of pre-season training with Sorrento MacDonald looked back with great fondness on the six months he spent at Motherwell. “I have some great memories from Scotland, such as making my first team debut when I came on against Hibernian,” he reflected. “But I’d say the best memory for me was sitting on the bench for Motherwell against Rangers at Ibrox Park. I’ve supported the ‘Gers since I was young and it was great to see it from a different angle.”
With his time in Scotland up, MacDonald headed to Sengkang where former Sorrento boss Trevor Morgan was in charge of the clubs S-League campaign. “It was a great experience over there,” commented MacDonald. “I learnt different cultures, and the way people live and play in a different country, I really enjoyed it.” MacDonald was a regularly fixture in the Sengkang side who completed the recent season in eleventh position.
Having re-established ties with Sorrento, MacDonald is looking forward to the coming season and the possibility of playing A-League football. “I’d love a chance to play in the A-League,” said MacDonald, well aware his former Motherwell coach is now at the helm of Sydney F.C. “I suppose if they came asking I’d have to consider it and seriously think about it. But at the moment I’m concentrating on Sorrento and looking forward to the season.”
COYNE EDGES TOWARDS COMEBACK
Luton Town captain Chris Coyne is itching to make his return to the Hatters starting line-up. The defender is working his way back to fitness after sitting out the opening months of the English season following surgery on both on his knees. "I'm getting there. I'm not match fit and it's hard to get match fit when there are no reserve games and you're just training with the boys," said Coyne. "I've had two ops in the space of five months so there's not really a rush ... It's just a matter of me getting 100 per cent fit." Coyne made his first appearance in three months by coming off the bench in Luton's 0-0 draw with Southend United on the weekend.
WINNERS MEDAL FOR CACERES
Adrian Caceres is poised to become the first West Australian to gain an A-League winners medal after Melbourne Victory secured the A-League premiership yesterday. Victory wrapped up the regular season title, and a spot in the 2008 Asian Champions League, by dumping New Zealand Knights 4-0. All four goals arrived during a stunning thirteen minute spell in which Danny Allsopp netted twice, and Caceres and Archie Thompson once each much to the delight of the 15,563 fans at Olympic Park.
The goal deluge started on 35 minutes when Kevin Muscat played a quickly taken free-kick to Caceres whose centring pass was steered into the net at close-range by Allsopp. Three minutes later Andy Vargas' long pass found Caceres who powered past two defenders and fired past Mark Paston from the edge of the box. Allsopp added the sides' third goal with a neat finish after beating his opponent, and just before the break Thompson slipped the ball over the line following another quick Muscat free-kick.
THE WINNER OF THE "1 TO 1 COACHING" DVD IS …
New Perth S.C. recruit Adrian Sutton has won a free copy of the "1 to 1 Coaching" DVD. Clocking in at just under three hours, the new release DVD presents a series of fun football-based activities aimed at developing your child's football skills. It features the talents of ball juggler extraordinaire Sean D'Arcy, 10-year old prodigy Jordan Lyden and Perth Glory player Mark Lee. Adrian won the DVD by correctly answering "From which website is the "1 to 1 Coaching" DVD available?" The answer is www.footballtricks.com .
GARCIA STRIKES AGAIN!
Richard Garica's second goal in as many weeks has helped propel Colchester United to the club's highest ever league position. The Essex club leapt into sixth place in the English Championship after Jamie Cureton (2) and Garcia found the back of the net to topple Stoke City 3-0. Stoke arrived at Layer Road having not conceded a goal in their past eight games but that counted for little as Cureton struck twice inside 17 minutes. Only a couple of minutes had ticked by when Cureton's effort from 16-metres ballooned off a defender and looped into the net, then fifteen minutes later the striker latched on to a Garcia pass to prod past an onrushing goalkeeper. The sealer arrived in the 62nd minute when Garcia, in his first start since returning from an ankle injury, powerfully headed in a cross by Chris Barker.
GLORY ON THE MOVE
There's a very real possibility Perth Glory will call the WACA Ground home from next season as owner-in-waiting Tony Sage begins planning the ailing club's revitalisation. The mining entrepreneur is waiting on information from WACA officials that he hopes will confirm Glory would benefit financially by relocating to the home of cricket, rather than lose money by staying at Members Equity Stadium.
Although Sage would prefer Glory remain at Members Equity Stadium - the club's home for over a decade - he says that's unlikely under terms that prevent the club from maximising profitability on match days. Allia Venue Management, former Glory chairman Nick Tana's company which runs Members Equity Stadium, say its user rates are comparable with most venues in the country, but Sage is equally adamant to the contrary.
"If the deal was as good as other stadiums around the country we'd snap it up," said Sage. "If the choice is making money at the WACA or losing money at Members Equity, any businessman would choose to make money. The crowd numbers can be less to break even at the WACA. We would prefer a rectangular arena but we'd also prefer to have a club that is successful off the field. If the club is not successful off the field at Members Equity Stadium and it is at the WACA, then you move."
Sage acknowledged some Glory supporters would have concerns about watching their team on the wide open spaces of the WACA. However, since the venue hosted Glory's first foray into national league finals territory in 1999 the WACA has been redeveloped to improve facilities for both players and spectators. "It's not that big, round oval anymore," said Sage. "They've squared off the ends and the way the pitch was presented for (rugby team) Western Force to go there looked pretty good."
Sage is enthusiastic about taking over the club and wants to be involved from next month in planning for the new campaign. Football Federation Australia, which currently owns Glory, is keen to reach an agreement before the end of the year to transfer the club's A-League licence to Sage and property developer John Spence. The new owners would then start their involvement during a period of transition that would be completed at the end of the current season.
THE SKY’S THE LIMIT FOR GREGORY
An officials' scholarship from the Australian Sports Commission has provided 23-year old Steven Gregory with the opportunity of a lifetime. For the twelve months commencing January 2007 Gregory, one of our best young referees, will live and breath football thanks to 2006 World Cup whistleblower Eddie Lennie. "I made an application to the ASC for an officials' scholarship," explained Lennie, State Director of Referees. "There are only two of these scholarships available for the whole of Australia and my submission was successful in Steven gaining one of them."
The program provides potential high performance officials with an intense learning experience and a pathway to refereeing at the highest level. "In the next twelve months Steven will have the chance to officiate State League games in Sydney, Melbourne or Queensland," said Lennie. "He'll also be given the opportunity to travel overseas and gain vital international experience. All this is positioning Steven to be a candidate for when another A-League referee is being sought."
In addition to preparing him for life as a professional referee, the program covers Gregory's out of pocket expenses. "Steven will receive funding for all the essentials - uniforms, equipment, payment of expenses to travel to meetings, lectures, training and so on. Basically it'll pay his way for a year to give him the very best chance of achieving his goal to be an A-League referee without him having to worry about anything," commented Lennie.
Gregory will be under the guidance of Eddie Lennie throughout the term of this scholarship which is to be jointly administered by Football Federation Australia. "I'm excited at the prospect of mentoring Steven who has all the makings of being a first class official,” said Lennie. "Steven and I are to attend an ASC workshop on the scholarship in February in Brisbane and I'm really looking forward to assisting Steven's development over the next year."
News of Gregory's scholarship comes hot on the heels of him being selected to officiate at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival in Sydney next month. Gregory is to be joined by fellow West Australian Troy Miller at the tournament which brings together over 1,600 athletes from around the world. Football will be making it's first appearance at the festival which is the largest multi-sport event in Australia for athletes aged thirteen to nineteen years.
TEN MAN SYDNEY OUT-PLAY GLORY
Perth Glory's season of woe continued this evening when beaten 1-0 by a Sydney F.C. side which played two thirds of the game with ten men. Sydney, the defending champions, went a man down after Mark Rudan was sent off in the 27th minute for a professional foul on Leo Bertos. But Glory failed to make their numerical advantage count and ten minutes from the end an Alex Brosque header gave the home team maximum points.
The opening exchanges were tame with both teams keeping it tight at the back. Simon Colosimo crafted the first genuine chance on 25 minutes by playing Leo Bertos down the left channel but his low shot was just wide of the far post. The game burst into life two minutes later when Bertos was put clean through on goal only to be pulled down just outside the box by Rudan and referee Simon Przydac had no option but to red card the Sydney captain. Colosimo crashed the resultant free-kick through the defensive wall and Clint Bolton took possession at the second grab.
Sydney reshuffled their formation to accommodate for the loss of Rudan and shortly after Steve Corica drilled wide from 25-metres. Bertos was causing problems down the left and Colosimo directing traffic through the middle of the park as Glory started to gain the upper hand. A terrific flowing move six minutes from half-time ended with Colosimo striking high from a Stuart Young pull back. A few more minutes ticked by before Bertos chanced his luck from distance but Bolton again kept the ball out of his net.
Glory would have fancied their chances of opening Sydney up after the break but it was the home team who showed the greater enterprise. Corica curled a free-kick narrowly wide from 20-metres, then Ruben Zadkovich blazed high from the edge of the area after being gifted acres of space down the right. Young then had a shot well saved by Bolton as Glory pressed on the hour mark. The visitors suffered a double blow midway through the half as Stan Lazaridis and Bertos succumbed to injury within five minutes of eachother.
Sydney had a great chance to go ahead on 64 minutes when Robbie Middleby swung a cross to the far post for Corica whose header was instinctively pushed over the crossbar by Tommi Tomich. Bolton was again Glory's foil on 70th minutes by diving full length to push away Jamie Harnwell's towering header. The deciding goal arrived in the 80th minute when Corica skipped past Ante Kovacevic before delivering a brilliant cross which Brosque angled across Tomich and inside the far corner.
NATIONAL LEAGUE COMES CALLING FOR LEE
Mark Lee has stepped up to national league football seven years after first trying his luck with Perth Glory. The 2006 Gold Medalist joined Glory late last week on a four-week agreement as replacement for injured striker Bobby Despotovski. The midfielder made his A-League debut - at left back - in Sunday’s 1-0 loss to Central Coast Mariners and is now looking forward to getting more game time under his belt.
Instead of being put off by a failed trial in 1999, Lee took the setback in his stride. He completed a sports management degree in the United States before treading a course through the local Premier League through spells with Swan I.C., Western Knights, Bayswater City and E.C.U. Joondalup. Along the way Lee picked up a Cup winners medal at Swan, a Premier League championship medal with the Knights, and last year collected the Gold Medal as a Bayswater player.
While widely considered one of the best central midfielders in the top flight, Lee feels his superior fitness gave him an extra edge when Glory went looking for someone to replace Despotovski. “I’ve always felt that if I did get an opportunity it would never be fitness that let me down,” said Lee, whose obsession with training ensured he was up to the pace of Glory’s professional environment when coach Ron Smith suddenly asked him to trial. “I’m probably fitter now than I’ve ever been.”
A former professional with English club Scarborough and Scottish outfit Hibernian, Lee is poised to step into Glory’s starting line-up for tonight’s fixture with Sydney F.C. at Aussie Stadium. “I felt confident against Central Coast. I didn’t feel out of place and I’d love to be involved at some stage against Sydney,” said Lee, who juggles training with his job as Football West’s youth development officer.
Lee’s introduction is unlikely to be the only change to the team, with Smith set to restore the imposing presence of skipper Jamie Harnwell to the attack at the expense of youngster Luka Glavas. Former Socceroos winger Stan Lazaridis is also ready to return to action after missing the Mariners match with a hamstring problem. Glory’s season virtually ended when the Mariners sent them to their ninth defeat, leaving them six points outside the top four.
GARCIA DELIGHTED TO BE BACK AMONGST THE GOALS
Colchester United's Richie Garcia was delighted to get on the scoresheet in Saturday's 3-1 victory at Crystal Palace. After seeing his country's cricketers pummel England to take a stranglehold on The Ashes, the U's attacker came off the bench on the hour mark to stump Palace. Garcia scored one and set up another in his first appearance after an eight game absence with an ankle injury to earn Colchester their tenth win of the campaign.
"After being out of the game for a while, I was glad to have any input for the team," said Garcia. "I'm sure it would have pleased my family and friends back home in Perth ... they follow all our games closely on the internet. Australians love their sport and it's been a good few days for us after the cricket. I've been dishing out the stick to the rest of the lads - and to score on my first game back from injury was the icing on the cake."
Karl Duguid put Colchester ahead on 63 minutes with Garcia delivering the knock-out blow seven minutes later. Having gained possession near the half-way line, he ran at the defence before unleashing a stunning left-footed drive from 18-metres that flew past a bewildered goalkeeper and into the bottom corner of the net. Clinton Morrison gave Palace a glimmer of hope before Chris Iwelumo restored Colchester's two-goal advantage with a late penalty Garcia was tripped inside the area.
The win keeps Colchester in the frame for a play-off berth which Garcia feels is not beyond his team. "Maybe teams have underestimated us this season and thought we were just a League One side," commented Garcia after his fifteen game of the season. "But we are well organised with enough talent in the dressing room and a great team spirit. The play-offs are a possibility but we just want to finish as high as possible."
REFEREE’S ADDED TO NTC IN AUSTRALIAN FIRST
Teenager pair Josh Mannella and Tim Mihevc are the inaugural recipients of the National Training Centre Referee Scholarship (Boy’s) program. The up and coming referees will receive the same benefits as players in the NTC program with additional personal development under the guidance of former World Cup referee and current FIFA Instructor Eddie Lennie. "The fact Football West looks upon the referees association as an integral part of the framework and that they now include this scholarship opportunity for two of our referees is fantastic news for our referees state wide," said Lennie, who officiated at the 1998 World Cup Finals in France.
In accepting their scholarships Manella, 19, and Mihevic, 18, become the first referee's to join a NTC program in Australia. "It's a first for Western Australia, and a first in Australia," Lennie commented. "These two guys will be the bench mark for this program to succeed, so there is a lot of extra responsibility on their shoulders which I'm sure they will both cope with. I'm excited at the prospect of mentoring two referees that can, with a bit of hard work, commitment and dedication, have the ability to make a first class official."
"The scholarship will provide Josh and Tim the opportunity to concentrate on their career as a referee, with the knowledge that they will receive education and development from some of the best mentors that Western Australia has," added Lennie. "The program will see them adapt to the mental and physical preparations that our top A-League officials have to undertake. There is now a distinctive career development path for our referees to aspire to and, hopefully, this program will encourage more of our junior referees to become more active not only a junior games but also senior games within their limit."
The NTC Referee Scholarship program is geared towards young match officials reaching their full potential. "FIFA are looking to our youth right now as to who will be the next referees selected to officiate at World Cups," explained Lennie. "We need to start preparing these referees now, it is not a quick process but one that will develop over the years to get these guys to at least be seen by the right people at the right time. Our inclusion in the Asian confederation opens up avenues to send our referees to youth tournaments overseas and expose them to a wider range of football experiences which can only be of benefit to them and their careers."
SMITH PLANS GLORY MAKEOVER
Ron Smith will overhaul the Perth Glory squad in time for his second season at the helm. The coach has identified a lack of flexibility within his roster as one area requiring particular attention after the club’s failure to qualify for the A-League play-off series. “We have to change the composition of the squad a bit,” Smith said. “We have a number of players who, in my mind, are very similar in the way they like to play the game, which means you haven’t got a lot of choice then if you want to change the nature of the game. So that is an important thing that needs to be addressed.”
WARD CHANCE FOR WORLD CUP BERTH
Graham Arnold has backed midfielder Nick Ward to play a key role in the Socceroos 2010 World Cup campaign but admits the former Perth Glory star is not best suited to the frantic nature of the English Championship. Ward, the A-League’s young player of the year last term, began the season as a regular in Queens Park Rangers’ starting line-up, however, since John Gregory took over as coach in late September the 21-year old has made just further two appearances for the London club.
Arnold feels Ward is better suited to playing in a league where there is less emphasis on the physical side of the game. “The Championship is a special league, it’s one of the hardest physical leagues you can play in. The game goes at 100 miles per hour and no one puts their foot on the ball,” explained Arnold. “Nicky always wants the ball to feet so he can start to play (but) the more he plays the better he’ll become. I’ve no doubt he’d be more suited to the premiership or on the continent somewhere where everything is played through midfield.”
The worry for Arnold is that another of Australia’s hottest young prospects is being stifled by circumstances. “Like any young player who goes overseas, the first year is always the hardest in adapting to the pace of the league and to the standard. But all the young guys need to be playing forty games a year to learn by their mistakes and to learn the game,” said Arnold. “I think Nicky has a big part to play in the Olyroos and at the same time he’s got a big part to play towards 2010. Nicky can play as a second striker or in midfield so he gives us a good option. He’s someone who’s monitored very closely.”
Ward has set his sights on being part of the Socceroos side for February’s friendly with Denmark in London. But he knows his chances are seriously diminished unless he can earn regular game time with Rangers. “It’s not a walk in the park and it’s completely different to what I’m used to,” he said. “But I’m up for the challenge. I just need to be playing more games. I’d love to play for Australia against Denmark but I need to be playing more.”
GLORY RUE MISSED OPPORTUNITIES
An inability to convert chances into goals cost Perth Glory dearly as Central Coast Mariners took out this afternoon’s A-League meeting 1-0 at Bluetongue Stadium. The loss leaves Glory six points adrift of the top four and with little chance of making the play-offs. “Barring a minor miracle, that’s it for us,” declared Ron Smith after the game. “With just five rounds to go, I can’t see the top four teams dropping six points. And that’s why we had to win today. We’ve been trying to play catch up since round two ... we’ve come close but we haven’t picked up enough points in the road and that’s how it was today.”
Played in hot, blustery conditions, the early running came from Glory as half chances came the way of Leo Bertos and Stuart Young. Stewart Petrie was unlucky not to put the home side ahead on 10 minutes with a lobbed shot that skimmed the crossbar after Tommi Tomich misjudged a cross by Wayne O’Sullivan. Just two minutes Petrie turned provider with a looping delivery into the area where Adam Kwasnik got an out-stretched boot to the ball in front of Naum Sekulovski and his slight touch wrong-footed Tomich, much to the delight of the crowd of 8,089.
Bertos’ low strike on the quarter hour forced a fine save from Danny Vukovic, while down the other end Nick Mrdja should have done much better than shoot weakly at Tomich. The Mariners breathed a sigh of relief on 28 minutes when Vukovic’s attempted clearance was deflected on to the post by Young. Vukovic then brilliantly smothered at the feet of Luka Glavas after he latched on to a superb pass from Simon Colosimo. And right on the stroke of half-time Tomich raced off his line and skilfully deflected the ball away from the feet of Mrdja on the top edge of the 18-yard box.
The first shot in anger after the break came from Colosimo whose scorching free-kick from distance fizzed narrowly passed the upright. John Hutchinson should have put the game beyond doubt when he had a free shot on the hour mark but somehow pushed his shot wide after receiving Petrie’s cross from the left. Jamie Harnwell came off the bench for Glory and almost immediately combined with Young to put the ball at the feet of Sekulovski whose powerful grass-cutter from 15-metres was directed straight at Vukovic.
Tomich kept the visitors in the contest on 71 minutes when Jamie McMaster’s free-kick evaded all bar Petrie whose close-range effort was blocked by the Glory custodian. A late opportunity to snatch a share of the points came the way of Harnwell when he got on the end of a Bertos cross but could only direct his header the wrong side of the post. Although Colosimo worked hard to inspire one last charge from Glory it wasn’t to be as the Mariner’s locked the game down in their defensive half and stretch their unbeaten home run to twelve games.
DESPOTOVSKI PLANS CAREER FINALE
Bobby Despotovski is resigned to making only one more appearance for Perth Glory after a recurring back injury ruled him out of tomorrow’s game at Central Coast Mariners. The 35-year old will spent at least four week on the sidelines after aggravating his back during training this week. However, Despotovski is adamant the latest setback has not signalled the end of his career. “I will be playing - 100% - in the last home game in January,” he said. “It’s a bit sore now but it should be okay for that game.”
Despotovski conceded he would not risk playing on after the home clash with Newcastle United Jets on 14th January for fear of exacerbating a problem that has already required two operations. “It’s hurting now and it’s inflamed but if I play and it gets worse they’d have to do another operation and I don’t want to do that,” he said. “So, if I can settle it down for that one game and just say thank you to the fans and the club and everybody then that’s fine.”
After a career in which he became synonymous with the club, Despotovski said he had hoped to end his playing career on a high. “It’s sad to end on this note,” commented the Glory stalwart. “You don’t plan to end with an injury but that’s the way it goes.” Despotovski was part of Glory’s starting line-up for their inaugural game of national league football in October 1996. Since that day he’s played 240 games for the clubs, scoring 113 goals and winning their Most Glorious Player award a record four times.
STAR QUARTET JOIN PERTH
No stone will be left unturned in Perth S.C.'s quest for top honours next season. The State League's most successful club bolstered their playing numbers this week with the addition of former Perth Glory midfielder Antonio Naglieri, one-time New Zealand international Adrian Sutton and utility players Michael Ord and Costa Socratous. "And we have a few other irons in the fire," said long-serving coach Graham Normanton. Since taking up the reigns in 1999 Normanton has added fourteen pieces of silverware to the cabinet at Perth.
Naglieri returns to Dorrien Gardens after a season in Victoria where he helped South Melbourne to their eighth championship. The 23-year old was a key member of Perth's 2005 'double' winning squad having initially made his mark with Cockburn City. Ord showed great versatility in filling both midfield and defensive roles during Sorrento's highly successful winter of 2006. Born in England, the commanding 25-year old can count Halifax Town and Harrogate Town amongst his former clubs.
The recruitment of Sutton and Socratous end brings to a close length associations with Floreat Athena for both players. 33-year old Sutton is widely regarded as one of the State League's most accomplished central defenders and is a five time winner of Floreat's Fairest and Best trophy. Socratous, a product of Floreat's youth system, established himself as a hard-working midfielder before switching to a more defensive role in recent years.
LOCAL TALENT BOOSTED BY JOINT INITIATIVE
The development of the state's emerging talent has received a major boost by a joint initiative between Perth Glory and Football West. In the biggest deal of its kind for West Australian football, Glory will commit significant personnel and financial resources to the project totalling more than $150,000. National league players including Simon Colosimo, David Tarka, Bobby Despotovski and Stuart Young will provide their services to support a wide variety of Football West programs.
Glory chief executive Michelle Phillips said the project signals the successful delivery of one of the strategic priorities laid down by the club this season. “We set a very clear priority to develop a stronger relationship between Perth Glory and football clubs at all levels of competition in Western Australia and through this partnership with Football West we’re able to achieve that,” Phillips said. “As this state’s professional football club we are committed to developing young football talent and hopefully in the years to come we can all benefit from the quality of our locally developed players.”
Half the current Glory squad are locally produced and Garry Chandler, chief executive of Football West, is excited by the joining of forces between his association and Perth’s national league representative. “The link between Perth Glory as the states professional team and Football West is an important one. I am excited at the prospect of having the club play a greater role in the local game, particularly in our development programs and am looking forward to this already positive relationship growing further.”
Programs will range from junior and school clinics to elite level coaching via the National Training Centre which recently added Colosimo as a consultant coach. “I’m delighted to be involved in this program and it’s through innovations like the National Training Centre that we’ll be able to fast-track the next generation of players and unleash the huge potential we have here in WA,” Colosimo said. “As I was coming through the ranks it benefited me greatly being able to learn from players who have had success at the highest level including the Qantas Socceroos. I hope these young players can take a positive lesson from the program and use that to achieve their dreams in football.”
VUJACIC SIGNS FOR FLOREAT
One-time State representative Miki Vujacic will wear the blue and whites strips of Floreat Athena next season. The creative midfielder recently put pen to paper with Floreat on a deal which ends a three season spell at Swan I.C. "We are happy to have been able to agree terms with Miki for 2007 and look forward to him being an integral part of our squad," said coach Michael Roki. "Miki is a skilful player and he'll add another dimension to our team through his quality service to the strikers and exceptional abilities at set pieces. He'll certainly compliment our existing squad."
The signing of Vujacic is another piece in the puzzle for Roki who is confident Floreat will be a major player in next seasons' top flight. "The past three years have been a rebuilding period for the club," explained Roki. "Our youth team has progressed to expectations and are now experienced enough to be seriously contending for some silverware. Next year should be a real litmus test for us as the Premier League is shaping up to be a much stronger competition than it was in 2006. There are some good years ahead for Floreat with our long term plan being to maintain a top four profile."
LAZARIDIS TO GO UNDER THE KNIFE
Stan Lazaridis is resigned to having surgery on a nagging groin problem, but only after leading Perth Glory’s push to take part in the A-League finals. The Glory winger has had a constant battle with a groin problem and has also been frustrated with ankle and hamstring injuries this season. “I probably need an operation at the end of the season - just a clear-out,” said Lazaridis, who has missed five of Glory’s fifteen games this season. “It’s just a matter of resting, at times. It’s probably why I’ve had to miss a game here and there to allow me to recover.”
The former Birmingham City and West Ham United player is adamant he can continue to play his part in resurrecting Glory’s finals hopes, starting with Sunday’s must-win game at Central Coast Mariners. “It’s a massive game for us on the weekend and all things being equal I should be playing on Sunday,” Lazaridis said. “I’ve got a few days up my sleeve and then it’ll be up to the coach (Ron Smith) to decide what he does with me. Ronnie, Dave Mitchell (assistant coach) and the physios have been doing whatever they can to get me out there.”
Despite gloomy predictions that Glory will miss out on a finals berth, Lazaridis believes a top four finish is a realistic possibility. “We are still only a game out of the four and if we win this weekend we’ll be equal with Central Coast,” Lazaridis said. “And I believe we can beat the Mariners. I always thought if we got anything from the game against Queensland it would’ve been a bonus and I think Sydney is the same sort of situation. Then we’ve got to win two of our home games and beat New Zealand away and that’s four wins, which should get us in there.”
GARCIA BACK WITH A BANG
Richard Garcia has marked his first competitive match in over a month for Colchester United with a goal. The Perth-born striker played the full ninety minutes of the reserves 3-0 win over Norwich City and is now likely to be included in the first team squad for Saturday's trip to Crystal Palace. Garcia put away his side's third goal shortly before halftime to capitalise in earlier strikes by Hogan Ephraim and Jamie Guy. It was Garcia's first outing since suffering an ankle injury against Coventry City towards the end of October.
TOMICH GOES FOR BROKE
A string of out-standing performances have done wonders for Tommi Tomich’s chances of earning a longer stay in the A-League. In danger of missing the national league boat after brief spells with Glory and Melbourne Knights in the old competition, Tomich has greatly enhanced his reputation since accepting a short-term deal with Glory little over a month ago. During that time the 26-year old would no doubt have attracted the attention of several coaches around the country for his shot-stopping abilities.
Out of contract at the end of the month, Tomich is doing everything in his power to earn an extension while Jason Petkovic recovers from a broken leg. “I’ve played four games now and I do feel more comfortable and confident with every game,” Tomich said. “Hopefully, I can keep playing the way I am and establish myself in the A-League. If I don’t get picked up at the Glory then hopefully I can play somewhere else. I really just want to get my A-League career going and this is a start.”
A series of sensational saves by Tomich looked to have earned Glory a valuable point on the weekend before Matt McKay unleashed a late thunderbolt to earn Queensland Roar victory. Earlier, an instinctive close-range save to deny Simon Lynch midway through the first half was the highlight of an outstanding display. “It was just a reflex,” Tomich said. “You don’t even think about those things. It was really the only thing I’d done in the game to that point so it was a confidence builder.”
GLORY PLAY-OFF HOPES DENTED
Perth Glory’s finals dream is hanging by a thread following this evening’s 0-1 loss to Queensland Road at Suncorp Stadium. The result leaves Glory three points outside the top four and with difficult away games at Central Coast Mariners and Sydney FC on the horizon. “Next week will be a do or die against Central Coast and it’s going to be like that every week now,” said coach Ron Smith. “It’s getting to the stage now where if you fall by the wayside a bit, you’ve virtually got to win every game left and the others have got to drop games.”
The home side established control early with opportunities for Damian Mori and Spase Dilevski that flashed narrowly wide. A sweeping move allowed Chris Grossman to send in an inviting cross which was met on the run by Simon Lynch whose strike on goal was turned away by Tommi Tomich who was superb between the posts for Glory. The resulting corner was met powerfully by Josh McCloughan whose header struck team-mate Mori on the line before being hacked to safety by the defence.
Matt McKay threaded an inch perfect pass to the feet of Mori who shrugged off Jamie Coyne only to drag his shot wide of the upright. With half time approaching McKay squandered the best chance of the period when he screwed the ball wide when well positioned. A defensive lapse by the hosts in stoppage time almost cost them dearly as Stuart Young unleashed a fierce strike that Liam Reddy palmed it away to keep the sides on level terms.
The second half was only a few minutes old when a brilliant pass by Simon Colosimo sent Young clear but Reddy was quick off his line to snuff out the opening. Roar gradually gained the ascendancy and Tomich was again on hand to deny Dilevski’s rasping drive with Lynch unable to capitalise on the follow-up. On the hour Hyuk-Su Seo was only inches from breaking the deadlock with a low drive from 30-metres. McKay showed terrific control in bringing down a pass from Dilevski only to have Tomich pull off a remarkable instinctive save at close-range.
As the clock ticked down Smith looked to his bench for inspiration. The ploy almost paid off with fifteen minutes to go when Colosimo picked out Young who was again thwarted by Reddy in a one-on-one. Six minutes later Dario Vidosic’s cross was cleared only as far as McKay who volleyed sweetly from 17-metres beyond the reach of Tomich and into the top corner. With nothing left to lose Glory threw everything forward and Adrian Webster’s effort from 16-metres forced a save from Reddy. Glory’s final role of the dice came in stoppage time when Reddy pushed a close-range effort from Young over the crossbar.
A-LEAGUE FUTURES ON THE LINE AT GLORY
Almost half of Perth Glory’s squad could face the axe at the end of the season as Ron Smith begins planning for the future. Regular starters Ante Kovacevic, Naum Sekulovski, Adrian Webster and Stuart Young are amongst eleven players whose contracts are due to expire, and will no doubt be pulling out all the stops to impress as the home and away series draws to a close. Goalkeeper Tommi Tomich is another who’ll be pressing to extend with his short-term deal up at the end of the month.
Smith and assistant coach David Mitchell will be forced to make some tough decisions over the next few weeks as they plan beyond the current campaign. “It’s an unfortunate fact of life as a footballer that some of the players might not be here next season,” said Smith, who acknowledged the possibility of significant changes to the squad. “But that’s right across the board. I think just about all the clubs will probably have a big turnover of players. It’s possibly as much as 50 per cent of players who will be coming out of contract.”
Several players who’ve featured significantly this season are amongst those coming out of contract. 32-year old Kovacevic has been a regular in a defence that has also at times included utility player Sekulovski. Hard working midfielder Webster has played a role in every game for Glory this season, while veteran striker Young will be hoping his experience will earn him a new deal. However, goalkeeper Aleks Vrteski has been limited to just five appearances with promising striker Luka Glavas also used sparingly. Local product Josip Magdic along with Mimi Saric have been generally surplus to requirements, while Mark Robertson has been hampered by injury.
Two of the existing squad has already confirmed they’ll be leaving the club. Long-serving striker Bobby Despotovski will retire from national league football to turn his hand to coaching Inglewood United next year, while defender Ryan Townsend is in the process of seeking another club and is currently trialing with Indonesian outfit Persiba Balikpapan. Plans by Football Federation Australia to increase squad sizes to 23 players will enhance the retention prospects of some players, however, a failure to perform during Glory’s finals bid could sink their hopes of others.
QUEENS PARK RETURN TO SATURDAY FOOTBALL
Its smiles all round at Queens Park following their promotion into the State League First Division. Football West confirmed the clubs' return to the semi-professional ranks late last week to fill the bye position created by the withdrawal of Bassendean Caledonian earlier this year. Queens Park, one the State's oldest clubs, were relegated from the First Division at the end of 2005 in accordance with Football Wests' restructure of the men's competitions. The recent season was spent in the amateur Premier League where Queens Park finished fifth in Conference A.
Not surprisingly, Queens Park are thrilled to be back playing Saturday football. "Moving back to Saturdays is great news for the club," said coach Tony Campbell. "Although the players and myself enjoyed our season in the amateurs and the games were played in a fantastic spirit, the club has always been geared up to play Saturdays and now we are back where we belong. Our plan is to build on last season and once more become one of the big teams in the First Division."
Campbell has every confidence that his side have learnt from a disastrous 2005 campaign in which they won just twice in twenty games. "We struggled a lot two years ago and simply forgot not only how to win but also how to compete," he said. "The start of last year was tough going for us but we gradually improved and after our first win we went five games without dropping a point. The players now know what it takes to win so mentally we'll be in a better position than we were two years ago."
Queens Park have been set some realistic goals on their First Division return. "Our aim is to finish outside the bottom three, anything above that will be a bonus," stated Campbell. "Teams will find we're not the whipping boys that we were in 2005 and they'll find it a lot harder to take points off us. Although we're likely to lose a few of our more experienced players there are a lot of talented young players ready to stand up, and the spirit at the club is the best its been for a number of years."
Plans are also afoot to ensure Queens Parks' success in the long-term. "The club is working towards a partnership with Lynwood Senior High School in promoting player development," explained Campbell. "We are also looking to appoint a junior development officer in the not too distant future, and to create a clear pathway to the first team for young players. All in all I'm excited about next season and hopefully I can do my players and the club justice back in the First Division."
VELAPHI JOINS JETS
Newcastle United Jets have signed promising young goalkeeper Tando Velaphi on a short term deal. 19-year old Velaphi, who was training with Perth Glory until just a few days ago, has joined the Jets as cover for Ben Kennedy who was injured in last weekend's win over Melbourne Victory. Velaphi first came to prominence as a junior at Perth S.C. and after honing his skills at the Australian Institute of Sport has represented Australia at Under-17 and Under-20 levels.
INJURY SETBACK FOR LAZARIDIS
Perth Glory were dealt a blow in the build-up to Saturday's crucial A-League clash against Queensland Roar when Stan Lazaridis was ruled out of the game with a hamstring problem. Lazaridis, who has already missed four of Glory's fourteen games this season with sickness, ankle and groin concerns, failed to train yesterday after pulling up sore during a training session on Tuesday. The early prognosis is for Lazaridis to return for the match against Central Coast Mariners on Sunday week but coach Ron Smith will not risk exacerbating the injury.
LIONS ROAR ON
It's been a remarkable twelve months for Stirling Lions. After finishing in the bottom half of the table last season the club hierarchy set about turning around their fortunes through an active recruitment drive and a strong focus on youth development. An early reward came in the form of Night Series final appearance, while a terrific second half to their home and away campaign took the club to second on the final Premier League table. The icing on Stirlings' cake came with September's Cup final win to earn the club their first major trophy in a decade. And there are plans for further silverware to head to Macedonia Park in 2007. "It's full steam ahead for next season, we've fed off the euphoria of our great Cup final victory and are pushing ahead with both seniors and juniors," said club president Don Evans.
A large slice of Stirling's success is due to the 'rookie' coaching team of Mick Lyons and Paul Simmons. "We went through a seven year growing phase in which we looked to improve the calibre of people at our football club, and with Mike and Paul we've reached the cream," commented Evans. "They have a fantastic rapport with the players, and although they're opposites in many ways they are united in there dreams to make a good football environment at Stirling. They've overseen the development of a number of talented younger players, the likes of Ludovic Boi, Phil Arnold, Michael Pugliese and Steven Hesketh, and I'm overjoyed with the young talent we now have at the club and who will only make us stronger."
Evans has been pleased with the changes and initiatives introduced by Football West and is confident the association are taking things in the right direction. "We must all work together to bring this beautiful game out its shell," he said. "I've seen some good changes from the new Football West regime, and yes there have been tough times. Some clubs thought it wasn't the right way to go, but only time will tell. Football West have been in for two years and I see good things developing, I also see weaknesses in certain areas but we all need to communicate with them and assist them because it's a team effort. I believe there is more unity now than there was before, and we as the football family want the success this great game deserves in WA."
Stirling youngsters Adam Luca and Clayton Arnez were recently selected for the new National Training Centre program, much to the delight of Evans. "There was a meeting last week with Andrew Bettall and Paul Wozny about the NTC squad and what is planned," said Evans. "It was disappointing that only six clubs attended the meeting as Andrew and Paul took us through the new structure which, in my opinion, is long overdue. We're proud to have the two lads in the squad, and also for three lads to be given associated scholarships which means they can play for Stirling while still being part of the set-up. The program is sanctioned by FFA and will provide a career path for those young players selected."
Rumours of Stirling leaving Macedonia Park have been in circulation for several years and are nothing new to Evans. "The land there is very valuable, and it belongs to the Macedonia community who are happy with the present arrangements with our club," said the Stirling president. "It's true there is pressure from greedy developers trying to get there mitt's on our sacred turf, but at the recent AGM it was voted unanimously for our use of the park to carry on. There were some issues with our junior pitches which we discussed with the council and they've made Vasto Reserve available to us. It's a fantastic venue and may be something we'll look at in the future, but at the present time will not be moving from Macedonia Park."
As 2006 draws to a close Evans is looking forward with anticipation to the start of the new season. "The squad we have did well last season, but we may lose a couple of players," he explained. "We've definitely lost Rob Miller, he's gone back to the UK, but we've signed Okwy Diamondstar from Floreat Athena to replace him. It was terrific that Okwy came to us and said he wanted to be coached by Mike Lyons, which is a great feather in Mike's cap. We are a club who want to bring youngsters through and with Mike working his magic on them and also bringing the best out of the rest of the squad we're really looking forward to the season ahead."
WOMEN'S COMPETITIONS OVERHAULED
The Women's Leagues have been revamped in preparation for next season. A comprehensive review commissioned by Football West recommended a wide range of changes relating to the structure of the league, communication and junior development. Amongst those being implemented in time for 2007 are across the board ten team divisions, the dissolution of reserve team competitions, compulsory promotion and relegation, a new veteran's competition and modification to the junior age groups.
The expansion of the Premier League from six to ten teams will take place in time for season 2007. The existing sextet of Balcatta, East Fremantle, Mandurah City, Northern Redbacks, Queens Park and Subiaco United will be joined by Beckenham Angels, Kingsley, Murdoch and UWA, who were each placed in the top five of this years' First Division. Fourth placed Subiaco were not considered for promotion as that club already has a team in the top flight.
The Premier League reserves competition will be disbanded, and clubs with existing reserve teams will nominate in which division they wish their reserve team to play next season. A new youth league will be introduced within two seasons in which all Premier League clubs will participate. It's expected a First Division youth league will follow at a later date. A strict age limit of 14 will be introduced for players to play in senior women's competitions.
The number of teams per division will standardised to ten with compulsory promotion and relegation on a 'two up, two down' basis. A new Veterans League for players aged 30 and over will be played mid-week and operate as a separate competition to the women's league with modified rules. Junior league age groups will be aligned with the State junior and youth teams - Under-13, 15 and 17. Further details of the review are available from the Football West website.
TARKA ON TRACK FOR SOCCEROOS CALL-UP
Perth Glory's rejuvenated push for the A-League finals could be doubly beneficial to defender David Tarka as he presses for a Socceroos return. Tarka has already caught the attention of Socceroos coach Graham Arnold this season and further promising displays are almost certain to lead to a national team call-up. A series of hamstring problems halted Tarka's career not long after he twice featured for Australia early in the qualifying campaign for the 2006 World Cup finals.
It may have been more than two years since he last pulled on the green and gold but the desire still burns bright to represent the nation for Tarka. "It's definitely something I want to achieve again and personally I feel as strong as I've ever felt in my whole career," said the 23-year old. "And I'm enjoying it, which is the main thing after a long spell when I wasn't enjoying it. It's all coming together and if that (Socceroos call-up) was around the corner I'd be really thrilled."
Glory's coaching team of Ron Smith and David Mitchell are convince Tarka can play an important role as Australia cope with the retirements of central defenders Tony Popovic and Tony Vidmar. "I think centre half is going to be a problem for the national team and I think Tarks is ready to now come into the squad," said Mitchell, who played 44 times for Australia. "There's a big opportunity for him there and Ron would certainly push his barrow."
POTENTIAL OWNERS KEEN TO RETAIN TRADITION
It's now appears unlikely Perth Glory will lose their traditional name and colours. Football Federation Australia said last month they would consider the changes in order to attract the club a new owner. However, the clubs' current name and purple and orange colour scheme have already been used on the designs for strips and merchandise for next season. Potential owners, Tony Sage and John Spence, frontrunners to take over the clubs' A-League licence, have said they are keen to retain tradition and have not raised a change of name or colours with FFA.
AMBITION BURNS FOR VELAPHI
Tando Velaphi has long become accustomed to a nickname that was first used by his junior teammates at Perth S.C. The surroundings may have changed as he climbed towards success but the somewhat flattering moniker remains the same as he trains with Perth Glory. "Good save Dida!," bellows Glory striker Stuart Young after the young 'keeper flung out an arm to thwart a powerful drive in training. For now, the reference is more to do with a physical resemblance to the Brazilian shot-stopper than comparative ability. "I cop it a bit," said Velaphi. "If I could be half as good as him I'd have a decent career."
The foundations of a 'decent career' are already in place after Velaphi's progression from junior football with Perth to representing Australian internationally at youth level. The 19-year old has set his long-term sights on playing for the senior Australian team. "When you've played Joeys and Young Socceroos you always want to play for the senior team," he said. Ideally for Velaphi, born and raised in Western Australia, the next step would involve signing for his hometown club. "I'm just training (with Glory) and I'll see how I go," he said. "If nothing happens I'll go and play in the State League. And I'd like to go overseas, maybe to Europe somewhere."
Socceroos goalkeeper coach Tony Franken, who also works with Glory 'keepers Aleks Vrteski and Tommi Tomich, believes Glory would be wise to closely consider Velaphi. "He's a Perth boy and Glory would be foolish not to have a look at him in the future," Franken told Jonathon Cook of the 'West Australian'. Vrteski, who recently turned 18, is tipped to move overseas in the not too distant future while Tomich's short-term contract expires at the end of next month. Jason Petkovic, the club's long-serving 'keeper, will be sidelined until the middle of next year after breaking his leg in September.
HARNWELL THE HAT-TRICK HERO
Perth Glory recovered from conceding an early goal to beat bottom of the table New Zealand Knights 4-1 at Members Equity Stadium this afternoon. Makeshift striker Jamie Harnwell was the hero of the hour with three goals to move Glory to within two points of the top four at the conclusion of Round Fourteen. "At the start of the year we set the top four as the target and said we'd be competitive and with two full rounds of the season completed we're proving we're competitive and still within a shout of getting in the top four," coach Ron Smith said.
The Knights were given a dream start by Noah Hickey who received a pass from Alen Marcina and beat two opponents to go inside the 18-yard box and rifle past a stranded Tommi Tomich with only 3 minutes played. Although rattled, it took Glory only seven minutes to respond through Harnwell who powered the ball past goalkeeper Mark Paston from 14-metres following a neat exchange between Stuart Young and Stan Lazaridis. The visitors looked dangerous going forward as Neil Emblen blazed high, while Jonti Richter's cross was met by Dustin Wells whose header forced a smart save from Tomich.
As a precaution against dehydration, referee Simon Przydacz called a drinks break on 27 minutes as the temperature hovered around the 30 degree mark. Disaster struck the Knights six minutes after the resumption of play when Jonas Salley was dismissed for an unnecessary second yellow card. The home team took full advantage of the extra player and Leo Bertos was denied his first goal of the campaign by an alert Paston. A few minutes out from the interval Glory capitalised as Paston parried Naum Sekulovski's long-range shot and Harnwell reacted quickest in firing the loose ball past the 'keeper from close-range.
Although there wasn't a lot in the way of chances created early in the second half, it was the Knights who showed the greater promise and Marcina should have done much better than fire wide when well positioned. But the visitors chances of a comeback by extinguished on 61 minutes when Bertos threaded a low pass through a crowded area to an unmarked Harnwell who made no mistake at close-range. This swung the pendulum back in Glory's favour and Luka Glavas, who came on for Harnwell, had a goalbound effort instinctively deflected wide by Emblen.
Tomich had his reflexes tested midway through the half by a Richter volley from Gregory Duruz' delivery. Despotovski called Paston into action at a free-kick which the Knights' custodian tipped on to the post at full stretch. But there was nothing Paston could do in the 82nd minute when Jamie Coyne's delightful chip to the far post was nodded in by an unmarked Despotovski. There were further opportunities in the closing stages for Glory to extend their advantage but neither Despotovski nor David Micevski could convert.
GLORY TAKEOVER TALKS PROGRESSING
The on-going saga of Perth Glory's ownership will not reach a conclusion until after the A-League season. Matt Carroll, operations chief with Football Federation Australia, is happy with the progress being made in talks with business Tony Sage but it was unrealistic to expect a transfer of ownership before February. Carroll met Sage, whose joint takeover proposal with property developer John Spence is likely to be accepted by FFA, in Perth during the week and was encouraged by the mining entrepreneur's plans. "Tony Sage and his group want to get in now because they see where the future is. And the future is bright," Carroll said. Their interest in the club appears not to have dimmed, despite the flagging public interest.
ALL CHANGE AT ARMADALE
There's been a changing of the guard at Armadale with Bill Easton returning to the presidents' chair. Easton was recently voted into the presidency at the clubs' annual general meeting, however, it's been a far from harmonious transition for the likeable Scotsman who has had to content with rumours of unrest within the club. "I took the job on again because of internal factors at the club," said Easton. "I really cannot go into it in details but anyone who knows me, knows I'll be giving my all for the football club. All the members and supporters must focus on the club and channel your energy in a positive way and let's get on with the job at hand."
The decision not to re-appoint coach Peter Murphy and assistant Gary Ramm for next season has been the major bone of contention. "It was a difficult decision, but we received a number of applicants for the job and we decided to go in a different direction," explained Easton. "Peter and Gary have done a great job for the club with limited resources and it is a testament to there skills as coaches that we are still a Premier League side." Under Armadale's constitution all positions must be advertised every two years with Billy Russell the successful applicant for the coaching job with assistance from Tom Kilkelly.
Armadale have also added Phil Campher as reserve team coach for 2007. "Phil will not just be working with the reserves, but will be helping with the under-18's as well," Easton stated. "We intend to put Phil's skills to full use at the club because, in my opinion, we secured the services of one of the finest coaches in the State." Campher takes over from Daron Elliot who has moved on to greener pastures. "It's disappointing to lose Daron, he did a great job last season winning the clubs first major trophy in the Cup. But he has taken up a full-time Coerver coaching position and we thank Daron for his fantastic contribution and wish him well for the future."
The announcement earlier this week of Football West's National Training Centre squads was a source of great joy at Armadale. "We're delighted for Liam Harvey and Trent Sainsbury for being selected in the squad," said club official David Green. "But it's also tinged somewhat with the disappointment that neither can play for us next season. Nonetheless, we wish them both well." Anyone who's ventured to Alfred Skeet Oval will tell you how good the facilities there are, so it's no surprise Armadale have put in an application to host next year's pre-season tournament. "We're waiting on a response from Football West but it looks positive at the moment," said Green.
Easton has been on the local scene for a number of years and believes the game in Western Australia is on the cusp of a new era. "I think there are clubs who are now beginning to work harder at becoming a success and that can only be good for the game. I can see a resurgence happening very soon, and hopefully we can get back to the crowds that were attending matches when I came to WA. From an Armadale point of view our attendances have gone up every year for the last four years and with the signings we hope to make, I'm expecting this to increase again next season."
TOMICH ACCEPTS GLORY EXTENSION
Perth Glory have extended the contract of goalkeeper Tommi Tomich for another five weeks. Tomich joined Glory last month on an initial four-week agreement as replacement for Jason Petkovic whose season was ended prematurely by a broken leg. The strongly built 26-year old performed well in Glory's two most recent gams, against Sydney F.C. and Newcastle United Jets, leading coach Ron Smith to continue Tomich's time at national league level.
WANNEROO’S MILLER STANDS TALL
One-time Scotland youth international Kevin Miller can hold his head high after a superb year between the posts for Wanneroo City. The 21-year old caught the eye of many during the recent season in which his efforts were recognised by Wanneroo's Coaches Player of the Year award. For a player so young Miller displayed a terrific command of the 18-yard box while his reflexes and agility made him a vital part of a young and inexperienced Wanneroo side that escaped relegation by the skin of their teeth.
Miller learned this trade at Heart of Midlothian and Ross County and along the way gained three Under-18 caps for Scotland. But when he found himself out of contract the young shot-stopper followed his heart by moving down under. "I came to Perth early last year to be with my girlfriend who lives here," he said. "My full-time contract wasn't renewed by Ross County and I was being offered only part-time terms at other clubs so I thought maybe it's time for a change of scenery and decided to give Perth a go."
Having tested the waters with Bassendean Caledonian last year, Miller jumped at the opportunity to be part of Wanneroo's first ever Premier League squad. However, some early jitters made for an uneasy start to his time with the club. "I copped a lot of criticism early in the season and had to prove my detractors wrong," he explained. "As a player you only have one way to respond and that is by working hard on your game. I can honesty say I gave 100% every single game and at the end of the day I'm happy with how my season played out, and I feel I contributed in what was a fairly tough year for Wanneroo."
To the outsider Wanneroo appeared to be a club in turmoil when Gerry McEwan resigned his coaching role after only eight games and was replaced by Jamie Goodman. However, inside the camp the change wasn't all that revolutionary according to Miller. "The change of coach came as a shock, but in some respects it didn't make a great deal of difference as we still had the same job to do," he commented. "Even when results didn't go our way Jamie and Zach were both full of encouragement and knowing that they had confidence in us helped keep the boys going."
That belief proved vital as the pointy end of the season arrived and Wanneroo, Armadale and bayswater City battle it out to avoid relegation. "The pressure was really on in those last few weeks but I always felt confident that we would stay up," Miller reflected. "There was a good feeling amongst the players and coaches that we could do it. Everyone was pulling in the same direction and we picked up draws against Swan and Cockburn which got us over the line."
Miller is confident the experiences of 2006 will serve Wanneroo's youngsters well as they prepare for next season. "The fact that we have now all played a full season in the Premier League should give everyone more confidence for next year," said the Wanneroo shot-stopper. "On our day we could more than match the bigger teams, to be honest I don't think there is that much between any the clubs at this level. Everyone at Wanneroo has now seen the opposition teams and knows what the standard expected is so there should be no excuses next year."
And with a little tinkering Miller is of the strong belief Wanneroo can build upon the foundations of the recent season. "The club needs to hold onto the nucleus of this years' team and hopefully add a few experienced lads who'll give us a bit more depth," he said. "We had a habit of conceding soft goals last season and that's something we must avoid next year, and at the same time we've also got to start punishing teams when opportunities arise. I think if Wanneroo can do those things you'll see a marked improvement next season."
With two seasons on the local scene under his belt Miller is well positioned to compare what he experienced as a player in Scotland with the State League. "The standard is very similar to the semi-professional and Highland leagues," he said. "It is a lot slower over here due to the warmer weather but there are loads of good quality players who would all take things up a notch if they were training and playing full-time, and some of the clubs have excellent facilities. The unfortunate thing is there's only one professional club in WA, Perth Glory, which means a lot of players miss out on the opportunity to play at a higher level."
JONES GRATEFUL FOR OWLS EXPERIENCE
Middlesbrough goalkeeper Brad Jones is grateful for his loan spell at Sheffield Wednesday. The Australian youth international had an eventful three months at Hillsborough that ended with the Owls taking ten points from Jones' last four outings. "People at the club were really good to me. It was a great experience and I'm grateful to everyone at Wednesday," Jones told the 'Sheffield Star' newspaper. "For a period there it was disappointing that we were down the bottom but it all came together and our run of form was unbelievable. The change in attitude was first-class. It was good to go out on a high note and leave the club in a better position than it was in. Hopefully the rest of the boys can push on and get up the table." Jones made 15 first team appearances during his time with the Owls.
INJURY TROUBLES TARKA NO MORE
David Tarka has got his career well and truly back on track. An operation earlier in the year has alleviated the hamstring problems which cut short his time at English club Nottingham Forest and then dashed his comeback with Perth Glory last season. "This is the fittest and strongest I've been in a long time," said the one-time Socceroo. "After managing just three games last season, I've strung together twelve in the new campaign plus the pre-season games and the hamstring is feeling strong. I still feel discomfort at times and it will probably never be as strong as it ever was, which is something I've got to come to terms with."
After playing the early part of the season at left-back Tarka was glad to be back in the centre of Glory's defence for last weekend's win over Newcastle United Jets. "Returning to the centre of defence last round was exciting," he said. "I feel a lot more comfortable there than left-back and believe I have got a lot more to offer the team there. Regardless of where I play, I am confident of finishing the season strongly and helping Glory push for a finals berth. Now we are just two points behind Queensland Roar, Central Coast Mariners and Newcastle Jets - with a respectable goal difference."
MATHERS JOINS KNIGHTS' CRUSADE
Highly rated youngster Jon Mathers has been added to Western Knights’ roster for next season. The versatile 20-year old heads to Nash Field in search of a greener pastures and a fresh new challenge following two years with Swan I.C. "I've decided to move on after two great seasons at Swan, and with the Knights being closer to my home and university it makes it a little easier for me with the travelling," he commented.
The chance to work under the Knights experienced coaching partnership of Ronnie Campbell and Willie Kelly was an opportunity too good to pass up according to Mathers. "I've not had a lot to do with Ronnie or Willie but everyone I've spoken to has nothing but good words about them. I've had a couple of meetings with them and they seem very professional and I was very impressed, so I can't wait for the new season to begin."
Campbell, who's about to start his tenth season at the helm of the Knights, admits to being a big fan of Mathers. "Jon will improve the quality and depth of our squad," said Campbell. "He may not be the tallest defender in the League but he's got big heart, pace, versatility and a desire to win and as a coach they are qualities you look for in a player. He's got a terrific attitude and was genuinely excited about joining the Knights and that makes me a very happy coach."
Mathers got his start at Balcatta and tasted senior football for the first time with Future Glory. However, his career really blossomed in 2003 when he gained State Schoolboys honours and became established in the first eleven at Bassendean Caledonian. He joined Swan in 2005 where his ability to play on the left side of defence or midfield earned him the clubs Best and Fairest award in his rookie season.
OUR SOCCEROOS HONOURED
Some of the State’s finest ever footballers became the latest recipients of commemorative Socceroo caps at the Western Australia Football Hall of Fame anniversary dinner late last week. Football Federation Australia started a formal ‘capping’ program recently with numbered caps presented to all players who have represented the country at senior international level. In total sixteen players were awarded their caps on Friday evening as the Hall of Fame celebrated their tenth anniversary with close to 200 guests at Dorrien Gardens.
Perth Glory wingback Stan Lazaridis, a veteran of three World Cup campaigns and 60 ‘A’ appearances for Australia, topped the list of recipients. Jason Petkovic, Bobby Despotovski and David Tarka also received their accolades along with former Glory players Alistair Edwards, Shaun Murphy, Tony Franken and Scott Miller. Ron Adair and Con Purser represented the pre-Federation days while drawn from the 1970’s were Gary Marocchi, Dave Jones and Ray Ilott. Also honoured on the night were ‘imports’ Simon Colosimo, Ken Boden and Jimmy Pearson.
NATIONAL TRAINING CENTRE SQUADS ANNOUNCED
Football West, in conjunction with the Department of Sport and Recreation, have announced the boys and girls squads for the 2007 National Training Centre programs. The process of selecting the two twenty player squads was not an easy one with over seventy player's trialling for the boys program, and close to sixty trying out for the girls program. The NTC programs have been established to provide talented youngsters with the appropriate training and competition environment to gain national selection and make a career in the game.
"The final selection of players has been difficult, which is testimony to the talent which we were choosing from. In total we had seventy players which had initially been identified from the State programs and included a range of ages from under-14s to under-17s," explained Paul Wozny, head coach of the boys program. "The selection criteria was specific with the focus on selecting players which potentially are good enough to be invited into National Camps or selection into the AIS program."
The twenty players selection for the 2007 National Training Centre boys program are Liam Harvey, Trent Sainsbury (Armadale), Dejan Aleksic, Cameron Edwards (Cockburn City), Emmanuel Linga, Rhys Loxley (Floreat Athena), Julis Davies, Jake Geddes, John Tancredi (Inglewood United), Jarrad Bracewell, Michael Currie, Lewis Hall, Joshua Risdon (E.C.U. Joondalup), Eli Babalj, Mark Birighitti, Milljon Butshiire (Perth S.C.), Jack Clisby, Reece Vittiglia (Sorrento), Clayton Arnez and Adam Luca (Stirling Lions). Heading up the coaching team is Paul Wozny who'll be assisted by Gareth Naven, Kenny Lowe and goalkeeper coach Paul Turvill.
The 'interim' NTC girls program has been up and running for over two years and it's paying off. In July of this year the State Under-15 team qualified for their age group final at the National Talent Identification Championship, and at the conclusion of that tournament ten players from the west coast were identified for future Australian selection. Additionally, the 'interim' NTC girls team have played in the boys Under-14 Premier League competition in line with the other states and Football Federation Australia guidelines.
Former Socceroo and current head coach of the NTC girls program Alistair Edwards sees some clear benefits of the training centre concept. "The nationally driven interim NTC girls program is operating under the world best practice methodology where the best players in the State train together on a daily basis. This combined with the highly competitive games against the boys is starting to produce some outstanding team performances as well as some exceptionally gifted players."
The twenty players selected for the 2007 National Training Centre girls program are Chloe Coghlan, Elisa D’Ovidio (Balcatta), Emily Williams (East Fremantle), Kate Burns, Danielle Calautti, Katy Coghlan, Ciara Conway, Edwina Forbes, Nicola Williams, Carys Hawkins, Stephanie Grant, Ella Mastrantonio, Tanya Oxtoby, Marianna Tabain (National Training Centre), Shannon May, Elle Semmens (Subiaco United) and Australian international Colette McCallum. The coaching staff consists of Alistair Edwards (head coach), Jessine Bonzas (assistant coach) and Tracy Wheeler (goalkeeper coach).
MRDJA BACK IN THE SWING FOR MARINERS
Nick Mrdja has signalled the end of an extraordinarily frustrating year and a half by scoring his first A-League goal for Central Coast Mariners. After a sensational 2005 pre-season Mrdja endured an staggering 62-weeks on the sidelines with various knee complaints. His A-League debut came at Queensland Roar late last month, and in three subsequent appearances off the bench Mrdja's come on in leaps and bounds. Deep in stoppage time on the weekend Mrdja unleashed a blistering left foot drive that left goalkeeper Michael Turnbull helpless and secure the Mariners' fourth win of the season.
HARNWELL PLAYS CAPTAINS KNOCK
Playing Jamie Harnwell in attack against Newcastle United Jets was a gamble that certainly paid off for Ron Smith. The Glory coach started Harnwell up front alongside Stuart Young in a bold bid to gain the aerial advantage over a small Newcastle rearguard. Harnwell, whose played much of his senior career as a centre back, adapted well to his new role by heading Glory ahead on 37 minutes and being a constant thorn in Newcastle's side until being replaced late in the game.
"I basically went up to cause a bit of trouble. I ran around like a headless chook at times and put myself about," he said. "Obviously Ron wanted me to get into the box and get on the end of things and I thought we did that quite well. Rather than just kicking it long at every chance, we got people forward, got into good crossing positions and caused a lot of trouble. I'm not going to say it (up forward) is my preferred position but if the team needs me to do a job up there then I'll do it."
MATILDAS DEFEATED IN JAPAN
The Matildas have closed out their year with a 0-1 loss to Japan in wet conditions at the Fukuda-Denshi Arena in Tokyo. A goal six minutes into the second half from Yuki Nagasato was all that separated the teams in a free-flowing contest that had opportunities at either end. Australia were unlucky not to go ahead after 17 minutes when Caitlin Munoz headed against the crossbar and with the follow-up Sarah Walsh did likewise. Japan broke the deadlock shortly after the interval when Shinobu Ohno charged down the right and crossed for Nagasato to fire low past substitute goalkeeper Emma Wirkus from 15-metres. Sasha McDonnell was denied an equaliser by the Japanese 'keeper, while at the other end Wirkus made a spectacular save to keep out a long-range effort late in the match. One-time Western Waves player Collette McCallum was replaced fifteen minutes from the final whistle.
GLAVAS STEALS VICTORY AT THE DEATH
A goal deep in stoppage time by Luka Glavas snatched Perth Glory victory by 2-1 over Newcastle United Jets in this evening’s A-League clash at Members Equity Stadium. It was the perfect return home for Glory whose finals aspirations are still very much alive. “If you went in the dressing room you would have seen how much it meant to the players,” coach Ron Smith said. “We have to try and keep getting things out of games and until such time that the table says you’re in or out of the four we have to be optimistic … the lads I thought today gave everything as usual and we finished up getting the result.”
Glory dominated the opening exchanges and were unlucky not to go ahead after only a couple minutes when Stuart Young’s effort shaved the outside of the upright. The next attack came via a far post cross by Stan Lazaridis which found Young whose header was scrambled off the line by Andrew Durante, and Naum Sekulovski’s follow up was well blocked by Ben Kennedy in the Jets goal. Newcastle were denied a penalty with their first meaningful attack that put Vaughan Coveny inside the area where he went down under the challenge of Tommi Tomich.
Both Young and Leo Bertos failed to capitalise as Glory continued their onslaught. A rare Newcastle attack had Joel Griffiths force his way between three defenders only to blazed high. Shortly after Adrian Webster’s strike from 17-metres cannoned back off the post and narrowly evade Jamie Harnwell who was seeking the follow-up. The pressure eventually proved too much for Newcastle and on 38 minutes Leo Bertos’ cross from the right saw Harnwell soar above Paul Okon to send a powerful header in off the post. Simon Colosimo nearly added the hosts second shortly before half time but Kennedy was alert to his long-range effort.
The momentum looked like staying with Glory after the break as Sekulovski shot only inches past the post. But Newcastle slowly began to assert more authority over proceedings with Nick Carle leading the way from the centre of the park. Tomich moved sharply to push a Matt Thompson free-kick over the top in the 61st minute, and with the next play Milton Rodriguez powerful long-range shot was also kept out by the Glory ‘keeper. The visitors’ persistence was rewarded on 76 minutes when they gained a dubious penalty for Sekulovski’s challenge on Griffiths, and from the spot Carle brought the team level.
This set up a frantic closing period that had both sides pressing hard for the deciding goal, and with more left in the tank it was Newcastle who looked the more likely to score. With only a few minutes remaining Paul Okon sent in a deep cross which Rodriguez nodded back to Carle whose header was saved by Tomich. Then, three minutes into stoppage time, Glory made one last attempt with Bertos finding the unmarked Glavas who calmly slotted under Kennedy to send the crowd of just 7,315 into raptures. At the completion of Round Thirteen Glory are placed seventh place but separated from fourth by just two points.
TOMICH WON’T GIVE UP
Tommi Tomich is determined to extend his A-League career beyond its current four-week timeframe. The 26-year old impressed coach Ron Smith with a solid performance in last week's outing against Melbourne Victory and is likely to retain his position for tomorrow's clash with Newcastle United Jets. And as long he's under contract Tomich is prepared to do all he can to continue his stay in the national competition. "My main goal is to play in the A-League," said Tomich, whose decision to train with Glory paid off when Smith offered him a month long deal. "I never really gave up on the dream but I'm realistic as well. If I don't get anything in the A-League I'll go back to the State League, train hard and try to be as consistent as possible. I'll stake a claim for an extension and leave it up to them ... we'll see what happens."
ENGLISH DEBUT THE PERFECT BIRTHDAY GIFT FOR DE VANNA
The dream has come true for Lisa De Vanna who has made her first appearances for English Premier League club Doncaster Rovers Belles. De Vanna wore Doncaster colours against Birmingham City and Chelsea just days after representing Australia at the Peace Cup in Korea. It was the icing on the cake of an unforgettable week for the Fremantle-born striker who celebrated her 22nd birthday on Tuesday.
After just a single training session with her new club De Vanna found herself in the starting eleven for Thursday's trip to Birmingham. And although she didn't get on the scoresheet De Vanna remainded a constant threat to the Blues defence before being replaced late in the game. On Sunday De Vanna played her first full game as Doncaster drew 1-1 at home with Chelsea.
De Vanna, an Australian Schoolgirls international at the age of 15, developed her skills with Murdoch University before stepping up to the national league in 2001. She won the league's Rising Star Award in her first season with Adelaide Sensation, gained Australian Under-19 honours in 2002, and was joint recipient of the best and fairest award, the Julie Dolan Medal, for season 2002/03.
Her Matilda's debut arrived against New Zealand in early 2004 and to date De Vanna has played 36 games, and scored 11 goals, for the senior national team. De Vanna was part of the Western Waves squad which took part in the 2004/05 national league competition. More recently she's spent time at the Australian Institute of Sport and turned out locally for Northern Redbacks.
SWAN SNAP UP COLE
Gold Medal winner Aaron Cole has agree to join Swan I.C. for season 2007. The 26-year old central defender will end a decade long association with Perth S.C. when his contract expires at the end of the month by moving to the Swan Valley. "After years captaining the strong Perth outfit I'm looking forward to this challenge and hope to give something to Swan in the way of success on and off the field," Cole said of his move. Long recognised as one of the local scene's premier players, Cole has been a State team regular since winning the Gold Medal and Rookie of the Year double in 1999.
Carlo Scali is delighted Cole has decided to wear his clubs' black and whites stripes next season. "It's fantastic to get a player like Aaron Cole down at the club," said the coach. "We looked at our teams performances over the past year and realised that we are not too far away from being a good side in this competition. We didn't think we needed to go out and chase four or five players as we have a lot of faith in our current player group and believe that they will continue to improve next year."
The recruitment of Cole is being touted as something of a 'coming of age' for the club from the Swan Valley. "We have been seen as a small club and attracting players has been difficult," explained Scali. "Getting a player of Aaron's quality is a huge plus. He has been one of the best players in the league for a while now has the experience and quality that our team needs to make it a better side. I think he will instill a lot of confidence into our young defence and give our team the stability we need. I am really looking forward to working with him and I know all the boys are as well."
AROUND THE CLUBS … PREMIER LEAGUE
For most Premier League players the on-field activity for the year came to an end close to two months. During the intervening weeks the stand out performers for each of the twelve top flight teams have been honoured via their clubs' annual awards evenings. With the last of these held on the weekend we felt it timely to take a comprehensive look at who went home with the silverware from all twelve awards evenings in 2006 ...
Celebrations went well into the night as Sorrento celebrated the Premier League championship victory early in October. For the second time in as many years, Simon Harland went home with the Gulls Best Player trophy. Goalkeeper Neil Young was runner-up with Todd Harnwell as close third. The Most Improved Young Player went to 17-year old Scott Neville who also ended as the Gulls Top Goalscorer. Defender Shaun Mooney won the reserves’ Best Player by a single vote ahead of Dejan Gurovski. It was tight in the youth team counting also where Jesse Bridgeman finished with only two votes more than Anthony Cochrane.
Kevin Henderson made a clean sweep of the major trophies at Stirling Lions. The no-nonsense defender won the prestigious Players' Player of the Year along with the Clubman Award, while being runner-up in the Fairest and Best to English import Rob Miller. Keith Brown collected the Coaches Award, goalkeeper Phil Straker the Presidents' Award, and long-serving defender Riste Stefoski the Erin Debarro Courage Award. The Rookie of the Year was teenager Ludovic Boi, and David Dugdale picked up the Golden Boot.
The reserves' trophies at Stirling went to Luke Pavlos (Players' Player of the Year), Peter Koidis (Fairest and Best), Kevin Carmona and Cameron Carruthers (joint runner-up Fairest and Best), Peter Dunn (Coaches Award), Damien Houston (President's Award), Steven Hesketh (Courage Award), Mark Donelly (Clubman Award) and Steve Bozinovski (Golden Boot). The youth team awards were won by Dean Evans (Players' Player of the Year), Chris Rutherford (Fairest and Best), Dannie Richman (runner-up Fairest and Best and Coaches Award), Goce Spiroski (Most Outstanding Junior Talent), Matthew italiano (Presidents' Award), David Josifoski (Courage Award), John Walmsley (Clubman Award) and Keith Clevenger (Golden Boot).
It was a night to remember for one-time Australian Schoolboy international Jason Godfrey who scooped Cockburn City’s Fairest and Best award ahead of defensive partner Shane Nunes. 30-year old Michael Mirco was voted the Players’ Player of the Year, and the Top Goalscorer award was split between Jason Dos Santos, Michael Mirco and Anthony Pereira. The reserves’ Fairest and Best was presented to Luke Woodward with Joseph Brunetto and Adam Surjan joint runners-up. Surjan collected the Players’ Player of the Year, and Joseph Brunetto the Top Goalscorer. Joshua Lindlater received the youth Fairest and Best, and Players’ Player of the Year awards. Luke Zagami was runner-up in the Fairest and Best while the Top Goalscorer trophy went to Daniel D’Ulisse.
The changing of the guard as Floreat Athena is complete with the next generation of stars taking out their major awards. The Fairest and Best award went home with ever-versatile John Migas who had Paul Vlachou hot on his heels. Lively midfield Paul Vatistas collected the Troy Bernard Rising Star Award, while the Golden Boot award went to Boima Karpeh. Themo Giorgiou was recognised as the reserves Fairest and Best ahead of Simon Barber who won the Rising Star award. The Coaches Award went to Phil Clarke, with Stefan Smiljanic receiving the Golden Boot. Luke Walsh was the Fairest and Best player for the youth team with Damiaen Chapleau in second place. The Golden Boot went to David Soale and Milan Bogunovic received the Rising Star award.
Hard working defender David Annall went one better than last year by winning Western Knights’ Fairest and Best trophy. 17-year old rookie David Price was runner-up. Paul Cooke was voted the Players’ Player of the Year, while Stuart Montgomery claimed the Leading Goalscorer trophy for a fourth successive year. The reserves Fairest and Best went to Nathan Grego ahead of Joe D’Ortona, and Troy Sillis collected the Coaches Award. Jakob King accepted the youth teams’ Fairest and Best award, Anthony Skorich was runner-up and the Coaches Award went home with Daniel Francis.
There was glory for 19-year old Scott Bushby when E.C.U. Joondalup presented their awards at the start of October. Bushby’s tireless contributions in the centre of the park earned him the club Fairest and Best trophy as well as the Top Goalscorer award. Towering striker Ian McMurray was voted the Players’ Player of the Year in his first season with Joondalup. Steve Cross was the reserves’ Players’ Player of the Year with Tom Amphlett the sides’ Top Goalscorer. The youth team Players’ Player of the Year went home with Ryan McDarby who also picked up the trophy as the Top Goalscorer.
Gary Faria was a deserved recipient of the Fairest and Best award at Perth S.C. where tireless defender Michael Icanovski came in runner-up. The reserves top award went to Christopher Parfitt who edged out Adriano D’Adamo. Jake Stewart collected the trophy as the youth teams’ Fairest and Best player ahead of Matthew De Barro. The club’s Youth Development Player of the Year was State Under-15 goalkeeper Mark Birighitti, while the Robert Giorgi Memorial Trophy went home with reserve team captain Parfitt.
David Foster capped a superb debut season at Swan I.C. by being named the clubs Best and Fairest player. Last year’s winner, Rob Monterosso, was runner-up by just a single vote. Brendan Knox received the Young Player of the Year award, and the Golden Boot also went home with Foster. The trophy as the Reserve team’s Best and Fairest went to Michael Tronchin with David Paone in second place. The Young Player of the Year went to Daniel Grosso, and John Monterosso collected the Golden Boot. David McNally received the youth teams top award with the runner-up being Jeff Mason, who also won the Golden Boot. The Young Player of the Year was Seb Ruiz. Peter Simcox was awarded the Clubman of the Year.
Shane Pryce made a clean sweep of Inglewood United’s major awards. The former Perth Glory defender was recipient of trophies as the Player of the Year and Players’ Player of the Year. Former Australian youth international Louis Parkinson was runner-up Player of the Year and Top Goalscorer. The Rising Star Award went home with James Sammut who began the year with the youth team and ended it playing first team. Player of the Year for the reserves was Alex Stamatiadis with James Duncan runner-up, and Steve Worthy the sides’ Top Goalscorer. The youth Player of the Year was awarded to John Di Marco with Sebastian Di Cotter runner-up and Top Goalscorer.
Wannerooo City’s top award, the Players’ Player of the Year, was won by Danny Taylor in his first season with the northern suburbs club. Outstanding young goalkeeper Kevin Miller received the Coaches Player of the Year, while the Clubman Award went home with Sam Doherty. The reserve team Players’ Player of the Year went to Scott Wyeth who also collected the Coaches Player of the Year trophy. Chris Pugh was the Fairest and Best for the youth side with Frazer Glennie the Coaches Player of the Year.
Armadale’s awards ceremony was held at the Perth Italian Club mid last month with Jason Goodwin taking out the two major trophies. Goodwin claimed the Fairest and Best player award ahead of runner-up Scott Devine and third placed Craig Anderson. The Reds long-serving midfielder was also the recipient of the Coaches Award in which he edged out 20-year old defender Darryl Platten. The reserves Fairest and Best trophy went to Tim De Souza, and David Kelly collected the Coaches Award. Fairest and Best for the youth team was State Under-15 representative Liam Harvey, while Steven Skilandis collected the Coaches Award.
Stylish defender Paul Natale won Bayswater City’s top individual award, the Fairest and Best, ahead of Jovo Pavlovic. The Coaches Award went to Daniel Micevski, while the Most Improved was shared by Wesley Ryder and Oliver Langdale. Ben Alessandrino picked up the reserves Fairest and Best with Ian McAllister runner-up. The Most Improved went home with Trent Jones. The youth teams’ Fairest and Best player was William Downas, Frank Maddafrri was runner-up and Luke Bertucci received the Most Improved.
BROKEN LEG DÉJÀ VU FOR KILKELLY
In a tragic case of history repeating, Shaun Kilkelly has broken his leg for the second time in a year. The injury was sustained during a game of indoor soccer and came almost twelve months to the day after Kilkelly broke his leg while on State youth team duty against Indonesia. "I went for a shot and landed awkwardly," explained Kilkelly. "I knew straight away that something had broken. It's the same leg as before but not the same break, it's a little lower this time and isn't as bad ... I suppose I should be thankful for that."
It's a bitter blow for Kilkelly who is eager to restore Inglewood United's pride and play under new coach Bobby Despotovski. "I was really looking forward to next season, getting myself really fit and having a good season and forgetting about 2006," he said. "Having Bobby as coach I think will be great. He is one the best players who has played in the a national league and is probably still one of the best so if he can teach us everything he knows and we do what he wants us to do I think we will be real contenders this year."
After spending the opening months of the recent season in recovery mode, Kilkelly made his first team return mid-year and by seasons' end was back to his best. The 22-year old attributes a large slice of Inglewood avoidance of the drop to Alan vest who replaced Eddy Hodgkinson as coach in August. "Vesty saved us last season," Kilkelly said. "He got us organised, everyone knew there jobs and he didn't confuse things. I don't think Alan will be heavily involved at the club next season but he may help out with a couple of sessions here and there."
Kilkelly believes Inglewood's youth brigade will play a big role in the club erasing the memory of a poor 2006. "The reserves were outstanding last year," he said. "Kevin Brophy and Lee Bamber did a great job with them, but we can't forget Jamie Goodman who got them on there way. There are three or four players ready to step up next season, amongst them Aaron Colli, Alex Stamatiadis, Mladen Kovacevic and David Whiteside who all did a fantastic job this year. Hopefully they'll continue to develop and put pressure on the first team regulars."
One player that caught Kilkelly's eye during the winter and is being tipped for a big future is midfielder James Sammut. "James is only seventeen, he played about eight games for the first team and give it a couple of years and he'll have out grown our league," said Kilkelly. Sammut, who began 2006 playing under-18's, had his potential recognised at Inglewood's presentation evening with the Rising Star Award. The staff of footballwa.net wish Shaun a speedy recovery and we hope to see you back out on the paddock next year.
SOCCEROOS DRAW WITH GHANA
Australia have been held to a 1-1 draw by Ghana in their final international match of the year. John Aloisi put the Socceroos ahead midway through the first half with his 26th goal in national team colours before Ghana equalised with fifteen minutes remaining via Junior Agogo. Good early chances came the way of Mile Sterjovski and Jason Culina but neither could beat goalkeeper Richard Kingston. The breakthrough finally arrived on 26 minutes when Aloisi converted from the penalty spot after he was brought down by Francis Dickoh. Kingston pulled off a world class save to keep out a powerful Craig Moore header not long after, while Stephen Appiah squandered had a golden chance to equalise just before the break.
Brett Emerton's quick thinking ten minutes into the second half saw Kingston produce a fine flying save, and that was soon followed by another to stop from Jason Culina's low drive. Ghana then stepped up a gear and Michael Essien forced a smart response down low from Mark Schwarzer, and Sulley Muntari shot wide shortly after. The teams were brought level on 74 minutes as a cross from substitute Asamoah Gyan was spilled by Schwarzer and Agogo made no mistake sweeping the ball into an open goal. Both sides had their chances to snatch a late winner with the best coming the way of Muntari whose close-range volley was brilliantly saved by Schwarzer.
WA STARLETS ATTEND NATIONAL CAMP
Four members of the women’s State Under-15 side will stake their claim for national selection next week. Diane Calutti, Chloe Coghlan, Ella Mastrantonio and Marianna Taibain have been invited to a training camp in Canberra with their view of representing Australia in next year’s Under-17 Asian qualifiers. “It is great to see four of our girls who participate in the National Training Centre Program identified,” said Andrew Bettell, Football West’s education and development manager. “This really confirms the benefit of players training under the guidance of expert coaches and playing at an appropriate level on a week in, week out basis.” State Under-15 coach Jessine Bonzas will also attend the camp as part of the coaching team which includes Mike Mulvey, Tom Sermanni, Anthony Giorgi and Jo Sanders.
FINALS FOOTBALL GOES ON THE LINE FOR GLORY
If Perth Glory are to make the A-League finals they must win their next two games according to former Socceroo Stan Lazaridis. Glory are languishing in seventh spot on the ladder, five points adrift of fourth-placed Queensland Roar, and having picked up just one point from the past five games. With home games against Newcastle United Jets and New Zealand Knights on the horizon, Lazaridis says the time has come for Glory to stake their claim for a top four finish.
"We have to win our home games if we are to make the four," Lazaridis said. "It's a massive, massive game for us Saturday and we've got to win, it's as simple as that. If we don't win our next two home games and other teams pick up points then it's very difficult bearing in mind we have three away again in a row (after that). I'm not going to sit here and say it's rosy, it's not rosy but at the same time these next two games can decide our season. It's still in our hands and we have to win our home games."
AROUND THE CLUBS … FIRST DIVISION
For players in the First Division the on-field activity for the year came to an end almost two months ago. In the weeks since the final whistle was blown each of the eleven second tier clubs have honoured their stand out performers at their annual awards evenings. With the last of these held on the weekend we felt it timely to take a comprehensive look at who went home with the silverware from all eleven awards evenings in 2006 ...
Exciting young midfielder Jason Barerra left Fremantle Spirit's awards ceremony with the trophy as the clubs Fairest and Best player. Veteran defender Alex Christie was runner-up, while striker David Rodgers went home with the Coaches Award. Mason Levitt was recipient of the reserve teams' Fairest and Best, Alex Gowland came in second place and the Coaches Award went to Matt O'Blak. Chris Holland won the youth Fairest and Best ahead of Daitan Twyman. The Coaches Award was taken out by Luke Wilkinson.
Daniel Webb ended his first season with Ashfield on a high when awarded the club's Player of Year trophy. Midfielder Igor Novakovic was runner-up for the top award, and 21-year old Adam Purcell recieved the Coaches Award. The Fairest and Best for the reserves went home with Tahir Kalueja who pipped Michael D'Silva. Goalkeeper Peter Treeby took out the Coaches Award.
Mandurah City's Club Champion for 2006 is women's team stalwart Sylvia Loreto. Harriet Talbert was named the Under-21 Player of the Year, and the Encouragement Award went to Andrew Donnachie. Christian Paschkewitz won the first teams' Fairest and Best for a second successive year. Damien Condo collected the Players' Player of the Year while the Coaches Award went to Nick Quinn. The reserves' Fairest and Best was Ashley Bloor, Daniel Lewis received the Players' Player of the Year and the Coaches Award went home with Alan Fitzmaurice. The youth teams awards went to Ben Davis (Fairest and Best), Daniel Dyson (Players' Player of the Year) and Layton Warner (Coaches Award).
Christian De Barro went home with the Fairest and Best trophy from Balcatta's presentation evening on Saturday. Hard working midfielder Rob Giorgi was runner-up Fairest and Best, Perry Ielati was voted the Players' Player of the Year, and Shane Mitchell collected the Most Improved Award. Michael Bellesini won the reserves' Fairest and Best ahead of Daniel Causerano. The Players' Player of the Year went to Anton Aquilla, and Craig Rheuben won the Most Improved Award. The youth Fairest and Best was Stephan Cirillo, Anthony Mirabile was runner-up with the Most Improved Award going to Mark Giuffre.
Garth Lecky made a clean sweep of the trophies at Canning City. The 20-year old topped polling in the Player of the Year and Players' Player of the Year categories. It was a similar situation in the reserves where Cornelius Nurimba was named the Player of the Year and Players' Player of the Year. Sam Carrello also had twice the reason for celebration when he picked up the youths' Player of the Year and Players' Player of the Year trophies. Ryan Allomes was honoured with the Presidents' Trophy, and the Mitchell Allomes Memorial Trophy went to Michael Zoccolli. There were 100 First Team game presentations to Allomes, Jix Loong and Patrick Fitzgerald.
All four trophies on offer at Morley Windmills were taken out by Ray Rose. The 28-year old striker took home with him the Fairest and Best, Players' Player of the Year, Coaches Award and Highest Goalscorer. Runner-up in the Fairest and Best count was Damien Todorovic. Michael McGrath recieved top honours in the reserves ahead of Adam Kulovac with the Players' Player of the Year going to Rafiq Vadal. The Players' Player of the Year for the youth team was Chris McGrath, with Daniel Berry winning the Coaches Award.
The non-stop efforts of Phil Bell earned him the Fairest and Best and Players' Player of the Year trophies at Forrestfield United. Jason Kingdon was runner-up in the Fairest and Best count. The reserves' Fairest and Best was split between Ryan Corp and Peter Barley with Corey Bessant runner-up. Barley was voted the Players' Player of the Year. Trent Wood and Martin Barnes shared the youth Fairest and Best award. Jordan Hart was runner-up with the Players' Player of the Year going to Wood.
Djuka Tesic will look back fondly on season 2006 after being named the Best Player at Dianella White Eagles. Rydeen Botha was the teams Highest Goalscorer with the Most Improved being left-sided midfielder Jeremie Jeanne. Blaz Radovanovic claimed the reserves' Best Player and Highest Goalscorer awards, while the Most Improved went to Pavle Kuvelakovic. The youth team awards went to Aleksandar Opacic (Best Player), Predrag Narandic (Highest Goalscorer) and Branimir Dragojevic (Most Improved).
It was a big night for Luke Rennie who won the Player of the Year and Players' Player of the Year at Rockingham City. Steve Cramphorn was runner-up Player of the Year, while the Coaches Award went to Jason Peacock. Luka Ivanic received the reserves' Player of the Year and Coaches Award trophies. Player of the Year runner-up was Rob Clackett, and Chris Smith was voted the Players' Player of the Year. The youths' Player of the Year, Players' Player of the Year and Coaches Award were presented to Cameron Harvey. Alex Byrne was runner-up Player of the Year.
Gosnells City's awards evening was dominated by Brian Cairney who went home with trophies as the Fairest and Best, and Players' Player of the Year. Runner-up Fairest and Best was Andy Daffin, with Drew Grimshaw recipient of the Most Improved. The reserves' Fairest and Best was taken out by Jordan Naylor with Martin O'Reilly in second place. The Players' Player of the Year was youngster Alex Vo, while the Most Improved went to Jim Capewell. The youth team awards went to Oscar Sanabria (Fairest and Best), Dave DeBrito (runner-up Fairest and Best), Lee McLaughlin (Players' Player of the Year) and Zac Curulli (Most Improved).
The Fairest and Best, and Players' Player of the Year trophies at South West Phoenix were collected by James Bergin. Greg Hayes was runner-up Fairest and Best, and a solid season in midfield earned Patrick Quinn the Coaches Award. The reserves' Fairest and Best went home with Luke Utterson, James Monks was runner-up and Michael Ninness picked up the Coaches Award. Youth team captain Jonathon Krawec won their Fairest and Best ahead of Rory Binnie. Recipient of the Coaches Award was Ryan Risdon. Phoenix' Leading Goalscorer for 2006 was Stephen Suttie.
WARD TO TRAIN WITH SOCCEROOS
Nick Ward will train with the Socceroos leading into this weeks friendly with Ghana in London. The Queens Park Rangers midfielder is one of five players in contention for the Australian Under-23 team invited into camp with the senior national side. Aaron Downes (Chesterfield), Neil Kilkenny (Birmingham City), Trent McClenahan (Hereford United), James Troisi (Newcastle United) and Ward will all join the squad over the next few days.
GLORY COACH FEELS NO PRESSURE
Ron Smith denies feeling under pressure despite Perth Glory’s poor run of results. Glory may have collected just a single point from their last five A-League outings but their coach says he feels no more pressure now than when he took the team for the first time three months ago. “It’s beyond my control so I don’t worry about that,” said Smith, who feels bad luck and poor decisions have hampered Glory’s recent progress.
Single goal losses to Queensland Roar, Central Coast Mariners, Adelaide United and Melbourne Victory and a draw at Sydney F.C. have seen Glory slip to seventh and in very real danger of missing the play-offs. However, Smith refuses to believe his team will continue to find themselves on the wrong end of results. “We’ve only had the one point but we could’ve had something out of every game,” said the coach. “It’s not like we’ve been played off the park and been hammered. My attitude is until such time as the points table says we can’t get in the top four, then we’ll be aiming for that.”
Injury has ravaged the Glory squad over recent weeks with goalkeeper Jason Petkovic (broken leg), midfielders Simon Colosimo (hamstring) and Stan Lazaridis (ankle), and striker Stuart Young (Groin) and Bobby Despotovski (foot) all spending time on the sidelines. Petkovic has been ruled out for the remainder of the season, but Young returned to duty in Melbourne while Lazaridis and Despotovski are expected to be fit for this week’s home game with Newcastle United Jets.
Glory have also suffered at the hands of officials with Smith claiming his side could have been at least four points better off had some decisions not gone against them. The coach is still annoyed Despotovski had a goal incorrectly disallowed for offside against Sydney, and that defender Paul Pezos was sent off against Adelaide. “I think we’ve been done out of some points by the officials,” he said. “I know they say they don’t do it on purpose and I don’t think they do. It’s just when you’re battling that those things have a funny knack of going against you rather than for you.”
PERTH JUNIORS TO EMBARK ON EUROPEAN ADVENTURE
Perth S.C. are making plans to take two of their junior squads to Europe next year to compete in the Italy Cup 2007. The Blues Under-14 and Under-15 teams will head abroad early in July 2007 to participate in the junior tournament alongside teams from across Europe. The Italy Cup 2007 will held over five days in the small Italian seaside town of Cesenatico, 15km from Rimini on the Adriatic Coast, and attracts teams from over twenty countries. The two Perth teams will stay on after the tournament to play five matches against local Italian clubs.
Inaugural Perth Glory coach Gary Marocchi will head the touring party and believes the trip will be of great benefit to the Perth youngsters. "The aim of the trip is to continue the football development of the young players at the club. We have some very talented players in the two age groups who will benefit greatly from the experience of playing against Italian teams," he said. "Perth Soccer Club has always attempted to provide a career path for youth players, with previous tours to Adelaide in 2004 and the Gold Coast Cup in 2005. We believe we have a talented bunch of players who will carry on to play successfully at senior level and who will benefit not only the Perth club but also WA football."
The trip will provide Perth's juniors with the opportunity of a lifetime and allow them to pit skills with some of Europe's emerging stars. "We are embarking on a huge project which will have enormous benefits for the players who travel," said Marocchi. "Their opponents will be of highly talented European backgrounds, with different playing styles to what we experience in Perth. Our current two squads resemble the united nations with over twelve different nationalities represented including African, European, Asian, Australian and indigenous Australian players."
Perth requested permission from Football West to travel aboard tour earlier in the year, and provisional approval for the trip was received a fortnight ago. "We need to present a detailed submission to Football West for final approval to be granted," explained Marocchi. "Football West have introduced a new policy on overseas tours as a direct result of our application to tour, which was originally submitted in April 2006." Planning for the tour is now in full swing and will be taken up a further notch when next year's Under-14 and Under-15 squads are finalised.
The nucleus of the travelling sides is expected to be made up of those players who brought Perth success in this years' competitions. The Under-13's won the League and Cup double, while the Under-14 side ended the regular season in second position before taking out the Cup Final. Trials for the Perth junior squads are underway with selections expected to be made by 25th November 2006. Further information can be obtained from the tour proponent on 0411 644 821, or by calling Gianfranco Circati on 9328 2474 during office hours.
MILLER RETURNS TO WHERE HE STARTED
The career of Scott Miller has come full circle with his appointment as senior coach at Cockburn City. It’s a return home for Miller who played his first game of senior football at the age of 17 for Spearwood Dalmatinac. “It’s good for Cockburn to have Scott around,” commented president Sue Potter. “His presence at the club is a very positive move for players right across the board. The juniors recognise the achievements of players like Scott, Gareth Naven and Alistair Edwards, who all are part of our club, and are inspired by what they have done in the game. Scott brings with him a wealth of knowledge which will benefit the League teams, and with him on board we have the potential to take the club a step further.”
Since debuting in 1989 Miller has experienced all the high and lows the game has to offer. Born into a family steeped in football tradition, the lively left-sided midfielder made his mark on the local scene with Dalmatinac and Perth Italia for whom he represented the State. He was a member of the rampaging Perth Kangaroos side which won the S-League in 1994, and played 49 games for national league outfit Morwell Falcons over two seasons. Miller was part of the inaugural Perth Glory squad and between 1996 and 2004 made 227 appearances for the club, was twice named their Most Glorious Player and represented Australia on two occasions. His final season of football was spent helping Sorrento win this years’ Premier League.
ON THE WORLD FOOTBALL PROGRAMME THIS WEEK ...
This week's hosts of the World Football Programme are Penny TannerHoath, Ann Odong and Paul Stafford. First up we talk local football and programmes, the development end of the season. The usual banter follows with Perth Glory and A-League antics then our national teams. A wrap of the European League's, international competitions and English Premier League news in the last half hour to finish the programme. In the coming weeks join us for a chat to Football West Programme Coordinators and the Juggler Sean Darcy. Catch World Football Programme on Saturday morning from 10.00am on Radio Fremantle, 107.9FM.
LATE STRIKE SINKS GLORY
Perth Glory have gone down 0-1 to A-League leader Melbourne Victory at the Docklands Stadium this evening. The visitors defended stoutly for 89 minutes before a magnificent long-range strike from Grant Brebner broke the deadlock and sent Glory home empty handed. Post-match, coach Ron Smith admitted his game plan was centred on getting a draw for an under-manned Glory side playing it's second game inside five days. "The game plan was to try to get a point out of tonight's game and we almost did it," he said. "The boys are a bit gutted. I don't think it's a great way of playing football, but under the circumstances, we had little choice."
The opening stages was devoid of highlights with the main talking point being Ryan Townsend's crunching tackle on Steve Pantelidis which earned him the evening's first yellow card. It took 19 minutes for the first genuine chance on goal which came about through a nicely weighted long ball from Danny Allsopp put Archie Thompson into a good position but he could only put his deft flick over the crossbar. Glory's only opportunity of the period came via a Leo Bertos cross which was headed over the crossbar by Stuart Young. Although Victory dominated possession, stubborn defending by Glory meant goalscoring opportunities were hard to come by. Late in the half Thompson almost broke through twice but sent both attempts sailing over the bar.
It was more of the same in the second half and only a last gasp challenge by Naum Sekulovski prevented Allsopp from going ahead. Alessandro wrong-footed his opponent on 67 minutes but aimed a tame shot straight at goalkeeper Tommi Tomich. Thompson jinxed his way past three defenders before pushing his shot wide, and not long after Brebner forced a superb diving save from the Tomich. Glory could have gone ahead through Adrian Webster whose curling long-range effort was just high of the bar. The decider came with just a minute of regulation time remaining as Alessandro laid the ball back to Brebner who blasted an unstoppable shot beyond the reach of a full-stretch Tomich from outside the penalty area.
RUSSELL RE-JOINS ARMADALE
Billy Russell and Tom Kilkelly have been handed responsibility of leading Armadale into next season. "We're pleased to announce the appointment of Billy Russell as our new head coach," said Armadale president Bill Easton. "Billy joins us on a two-year deal and brings with him the experience of Tom Kilkelly as his assistant." It's a welcome return to Alfred Skeet Oval for Russell who guided Armadale to the First Division title, and a spot in the top flight, in 2004.
The Russell-Kilkelly partnership took Cockburn City to third place last season and replaces Pete Murphy at Armadale. "The club would like to extend its grateful thanks to Peter Murphy and his staff for the sterling job they did with limited resources," commented Easton. "Armadale will be forever thankful to Peter for all his hard work and endeavour and we wish him well in his future coaching roles." Russell and Kilkelly have already begun plotting way to improve on the eleventh placing gained by Armadale this year.
PETKOVIC UNDECIDED ABOUT FUTURE
Perth Glory goalkeeper Jason Petkovic says he is yet to make a decision about his playing future after breaking his leg. The 33-year old broke the tibia and fibula of his left leg after colliding with teammate Simon Colosimo and Central Coast Mariners striker Damian Mori last month. Surgery undertaken three weeks ago to insert a pin into Petkovic's leg was a success, but doctors have given a time-frame of up to four months for the bone to heal, at which point a leg brace can be removed.
Petkovic, under contract to Glory until mid-2008, refuses to speculate on his future. "As far as the doctors are concerned it's not a career-ending injury," he said. "Obviously there are other factors are involved - psychologically, whether I want to play. The reality is I haven't thought about that yet. It just comes down to me, how well I heal up. If there's no problems then I'd certainly try to start playing again because it's not the way I wanted to finish my career ... once I get to the stage where I can say 'right, can I play or can't I play?' then I will say yes or no whether I want to continue."
PURSER TO BE HONOURED BY HALL OF FAME
Half a century after becoming the first West Australian selected for an Australian Olympic team, Con Purser is still receiving accolades. WA's Football Hall of Fame committee will make a special presentation to the 75-year old for his Olympic achievement at the organisation's tenth anniversary celebrations at Dorrien Gardens on 17th November. Purser, one of the inaugural Hall of Champions inductees in 1996, was part of Australia's squad which competed at the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne.
Born in Collie in 1931, Purser spent his entire senior career with the one club - North Perth. During those thirteen seasons, five as captain, he won three First Division championships (1952, 1955 and 1956), one Top Four Challenge Cup (1952) and one association Cup (1954). He made eighteen appearances for the State team, the first of those being against South Africa in 1955, and was appointed as playing-coach in 1957 and 1958.
Purser retains an interest in the game through his grandson Clayton Arnez who plays for Stirling Lions and has represented the State at Under-14 level. "I play golf these days," commented Purser. "I got right away from soccer but my interest was revived when the Socceroos did so well at the (recent) World Cup. They played the game how it should be played. And I follow the young guy, I go and see him play quite a bit and he's doing pretty well."
Perth Glory winger Stan Lazaridis and goalkeeper coach Tony Franken will also be recognised at the Hall of Fame committee’s anniversary celebrations as the first West Australians to be involved in a World Cup finals tournament. Alistair Edwards, who made history by leading the Young Matildas to the women's Under-20 World Cup in Russia, will also be honoured. Edwards is the first WA coach to lead a team to a world championship finals series. Tickets are available from John O'Connell on 0413 973 846.
FFA POACHES NEW CHIEF FROM AFL
Football Federation Australia have recruited Ben Buckley as their new chief executive. Buckley, the AFL's chief operating officer, will take over from John O'Neill who announced in August that he would not renew his three-year contract due to expire early next year. "Ben is the best of the new generation of Australian sporting administrators," said FFA chairman Frank Lowy, announcing the appointment. "He has the track record and undoubted potential to consolidate the gains football has made in the past three years and take the sport to the next level both in Australia and internationally." Buckley has been with the AFL for seven years and was previously director of marketing for Nike in Australia and Japan.
MANDURAH INSTALL CURRIE AS COACH
Stuart Currie will take the reigns of Mandurah City for season 2007. Currie coached Wanneroo City to the First Division title little over twelve months ago before a turbulent spell in charge of E.C.U. Joondalup earlier this year. “I accepted the job with Mandurah after some very positive discussions with their committee. They have spent a lot of money on the club and very committed to getting into the Premier League,” he said. “I’ve got the same feeling about Mandurah as I had at Wanneroo a few seasons back, there’s a bit fire in the belly and you can feel the good vibes from the people around the club.”
Currie said it was too early to make predictions about next season and admits he didn’t get much of a look as Mandurah in 2006. But none the less he’s confident Mandurah can make it into the Premier league. “I think that if we can get a good pre-season under our belts and add a few new faces to the side then Mandurah can be just as successful as when I was with Wanneroo,” commented Currie. “As I said to the president, I can’t promise miracles but if the boys give 100% they will get the same effort from me, and hopefully that will generate success for the club.”
WORLD CUP HOPES END FOR YOUNG SOCCEROOS
Australia's quest to qualify for the 2007 FIFA World Youth Cup is over. The Young Socceroos bowed out of the AFC Youth Championship, which doubles as qualifiers for the World Youth Cup, at the quarter-final stage where they were beaten 1-2 by South Korea. Australia overcame an opening match loss to China with back-to-back wins over Thailand and the United Arab Emirates to take second place in Group B. Flying the flag for Western Australia at the tournament was teenage goalkeeper Tando Velaphi.
The national Under-20 side went down 0-1 to China in humid conditions and on a bumpy pitch in their opening game of the event. China hit the side netting via Yu Hai's shot on the half hour while Australia's best chance had David Williams' goalbound effort turned around the post early in the second half. The winning goal came on 65 minutes when Hao Junmin's flick caught the Australian defence offguard and an unmarked Xu Deen netted past exposed Velaphi. Neither team was able to gain the ascendancy during the match with the respective 'keepers rarely called into action. Velaphi played a full game between the posts.
A resounding 3-1 defeat of Thailand put Australia's campaign back on track. The Young Socceroos went a man down after 15 minutes when Bruce Djite was red carded after lashing out at an opponent. Nathan Burns beat the offside trap and evaded the 'keeper to net on 26 minutes. Dario Vidosic converted an Australian penalty six minutes later, but just before the break Suttinun Phukhom reduced the deficit. Australia secured victory in stoppage time when Burns showed great technique to send his shot on the run past the 'keeper. Velaphi again played a full game.
A ten man Australia defeated the United Arab Emirates 2-0 to progress to the knock-out stage of the tournament. The scoring was opened on 14 minutes by Williams who headed in at the back post a cross from Oliver Bozanic. The UAE had Mahmood Ali sent off in the 20th minute, and ten minutes later Williams made it 2-0 by netting a cutback from Chris Grossman. However, with half time approaching Burns, having been ruled offside, kicked the ball away in frustration and received his second yellow card. The second half saw the UAE control periods of play but they rarely threatened the Australian goal. Velaphi watched this match from the bench.
The Young Socceroos campaign came to an end at the Salt Lake Stadium today when beaten 1-2 by South Korea in the round of eight. The Koreans made a perfect start with Song Jin-hyung superbly curling a free-kick into the top corner after 9 minutes. Australia equalized not long after when Grossman drilled past the 'keeper from just inside the penalty area. Song Jin-hyung restored his team's advantage in the 36th minute when his free-kick from distance bounced awkwardly for Velaphi and came to rest in the back of the net. The second half was dominated by the Koreans who ensured Velaphi was busy right up to the final whistle.
GLORY DOWN TO BARE BONES
Perth Glory will go into Thursday evening’s match with Melbourne Victory minus star player Bobby Despotovski. The veteran striker injured his foot in the weekend loss at Adelaide United and joins Stan Lazaridis (ankle), Simon Colosimo (hamstring) and Jason Petkovic (broken leg) on the sidelines. There’s better news on the injury front for Naum Sekulovski who has responded well to treatment on a shoulder injury and is considered a strong chance to play in Melbourne.
Ron Smith said Despotovski accidentally kicked into the sole of an Adelaide player’s foot late in the first half of the Hindmarsh Stadium clash. “He’s got a hard-boiled egg right now on his instep and whether there’s any severe damage, whether he’s got a cracked bone or what not, again we’ll have an x-ray tomorrow and find out,” Smith said. “I don’t think he’ll be able to kick anything on that foot for a little while, if you've ever had one it’s pretty tender.”
The Glory coach was more upbeat about Sekulovski who aggravated a reoccurring shoulder injury against Adelaide and was replaced after just 11 minutes. “Naum has got a bit of a loose shoulder, it pops out now and again and we’ll just have to wait and see,” explained Smith. “It’s really a case of how sore it’s going to be. If he doesn’t do any more damage he’ll probably be able to take to the field on Thursday, hopefully he will.”
CACERES PLEASED WITH FORM
Adrian Caceres is relishing playing regular football in his first season with Melbourne Victory. The 24-year old has condemned an injury ravaged summer at Perth Glory in the past to emerge as one of Victory's rising stars. "I am very happy with my form at the moment. I've been quite influential in the team in passing goals, setting up goals and scoring a few myself," commented Caceres.
Melbourne have been getting the most of out Caceres who's filled both defensive and attacking midfield roles. "One of the areas that we identified last year was having goals scored from midfield so he (Caceres) was one of the players we brought in to do that, one-on-one type players who can run at people, defend, create and then score goals and he is scoring goals," said coach Ernie Merrick of his summer signing.
GLORY TUMBLE IN ADELAIDE
Perth Glory remains rooted towards the foot of the A-League table following this afternoon’s 2-3 loss to Adelaide United at Hindmarsh Stadium. Coach Ron Smith was fuming after the game and pleaded with A-League officials to review off-the-ball incident following the dismissal of Paul Pezos. "The red card was a critical decision and influenced the outcome of the game,'' Smith said. "But the question I would like answered is why would one player be trying to take a player out of the game once he's already released the ball? That's a situation that needs looking at.'' The loss - Glory’s third in four weeks - was compounded by injuries to star duo Bobby Despotovski and Naum Sekulovski.
The opening quarter hour set the tone for what was a frantic end-to-end game. Glory was dealt an early setback on 11 minutes with Sekulovski forced from the field suffering a dislocated shoulder. Four minutes later the visitors had the lead through fine lead-up work from Jeremy Christie and Luka Glavas which allowed Mimi Saric to angle his left foot drive across goalkeeper Robert Bajic and inside the far post. However, Adelaide levelled the score a minute later through Carl Veart who converted from the penalty spot after Jason Spagnuolo was brought down by Jamie Coyne.
Adelaide's persistence to attack down the right paid dividends in the 24th minute when Greg Owens' cracking strike from 18-metres eluded a despairing Aleks Vrteski much to the delight of the 11,032 strong crowd. Shortly after Owens should have had a third to Adelaide's tally but he failed to hit the target with a free header. Glory got themselves back in the game right on the stroke of half-time when Richie Alagich's push Glavas was spotted by referee Matthew Breeze, and Despotovski calmly converted from the spot to send the teams into the break on level terms.
A foot injury to Despotovski saw him replaced by Pezos for the second half which Glory began positively. A Leo Bertos corner was met by Jamie Harnwell whose blistering header was tipped over the cross bar by the outstretched Bajic. The deciding goal arrived on 57 minutes when, from a seemingly impossible angle, Matthew Kemp got an outstretched boot past Coyne to hook the ball over the head of an advancing Vrteski and into the net. Glory tried their best to level the scores but were up against it when Pezos was red carded for raising an elbow to Ross Aloisi. Saric and Harnwell went close to equalising late on but Adelaide's one-man advantage proved crucial over the closing stages.
VELAPHI IN LINE FOR GLORY ROLE
Perth Glory will consider signing Australian youth international goalkeeper Tando Velaphi as a long term replacement for Jason Petkovic. The former Perth S.C. custodian, a scholarship holder at the Australian Institute of Sport, will train with Glory when he returns from the Young Socceroos’ Asian Football Confederation youth championships in India. Western Knights goalkeeper Tom Tomich, who signed a four-week contract when Petkovic broke a leg, is also in consideration to retain a place in the squad for the rest of the season. Coach Ron Smith will assess Velaphi before making a decision but is open to having two young goalkeepers - incumbent Aleks Vrteski is only 18 - in the squad. “I’ve seen the lad (Velaphi) for a while now and I’ve been impressed by him,” Smith said. “He is an excellent prospect. I’d certainly consider him.”
HARNWELL UNIMPRESSED BY FIXTURING
Perth Glory captain Jamie Harnwell has taken a swipe at A-League officials as the side prepares for their fourth successive away game. In the past fortnight Glory have travelled to Central Coast Mariners and Sydney F.C. an, in the next four days, journey to Adelaide United and Melbourne Victory. Harnwell said any more than two successive away games was unacceptable in an eight-team competition. “Any more than two (away games in a row) is out of order. There might be problems fixturing, but I can’t see how anything like this comes up,” Harnwell said. “Hopefully in the future we will get a bit fairer draw, but we have got to deal with it this year.” Glory are placed seventh on the ladder and how they fare over the few days could decide whether or not they feature in the finals.
MATILDA’S MAKE EARLY EXIT FROM PEACE CUP
Australia has made a group stage exit from the eight nation Peace Cup tournament in South Korea. The Matildas finishing third in Group B after beating the Netherlands and suffering narrow losses to the United States and Denmark. "We are matching teams fairly comfortably and controlling possession and what we learnt from this tournament is we now finding ourselves vulnerable to counter-attacks, which is relatively new for us," said coach Tom Sermanni. The United States won the Peace Cup by defeating Canada 1-0 in today's final.
Sermanni was full of praise for his side after their 1-0 defeat of the Netherlands in the opening match of the tournament. A goal mid-way through the second half from Sarah Walsh was all that separated the teams on the scoreboard. However, Australia completely dominated the game and carved out numerous goalscoring opportunities while, at the other end of the field, Melissa Barbieri wasn't required to make a save of any note. Collette McCallum was replaced on 78 minutes, just a couple of minutes after Lisa De Vanna came off the bench.
The Matildas went down 0-2 to the United States in their second Group B match in South Korea. The reigning Olympic champions went ahead on 20 minutes when Kristine Lilly's shot from 15-metres took a slight deflection past goalkeeper Melissa Barbieri. Joanne Burgess struck the frame of the goal shortly after as Australia attempted to restore parity. The USA doubled their advantage ten minutes half time as Natasha Kai knocked into an empty net after Barbieri had been drawn out of position by Abby Wambach. De Vanna came on in the 69th minute, and McCallum followed nine minutes later.
Australia's Peace Cup campaign came to an end with a 1-2 loss to Denmark. The Europeans took the lead after 15 minutes with Maja Juliussen heading in a near post corner. The Matilda's slowly came into the match with Sarah Walsh and Joanne Peters shooting narrowly over the crossbar. Australia drew level mid-way through the second half with Caitlin Munoz neatly lifting the ball over the advancing goalkeeper. The decider arrived nine minutes from the end when Johanna Rasmussen converted from close-range after a raid down the left. McCallum played a full game with De Vanna coming on after 77 minutes.
The Matildas Peace Cup squad is Caitlin Munoz (Australian Capital Territory), Joanne Burgess, Lauren Colthorpe, Rhian Davies, Heather Garriock, Kate Gill, Joanne Peters, Karla Reuter, Cheryl Salisbury, Danielle Small, Sarah Walsh (New South Wales), Kim Carroll, Alicia Ferguson, Lana Harch, Kate McShea, Clare Polkinghorne (Queensland), Emma Wirkus (South Australia), Melissa Barbieri (Victoria), Lisa De Vanna and Collette McCallum (Western Australia).
WARD CONCERNED OVER LACK OF GAME TIME
Queens Park Rangers' Nick Ward is worried his spell out of the team will damage his international prospects. Ward was virtually an ever-present for the London club under Gary Waddock and a strong candidate to play for Australia in next weeks friendly with Ghana. But since John Gregory took up the reigns in late September Ward, recipient of last seasons A-League Rising Star Award while with Perth Glory, has been limited to just three appearances off the bench.
"It's definitely a concern that I haven't been playing for a while," Ward told the "Kilburn Times". "I felt my form had been quite good, but the team weren't getting results. The upshot was that a new manager came in - and he doesn't really know me yet. It's frustrating at the moment but that's part of the ups and downs of football - you just have to wait for your chance and, when I get it, I want to show John Gregory what I can do."
Having started Rangers' first eight league games Ward was surprised to find himself demoted to the reserves after Gregory replaced Waddock. "That's definitely something I hadn't planned for," said Ward. "I don't really feel I belong there and that level is a long way below where I'd like to be playing. The reason I came to QPR was because I felt the Championship was a good standard of football and I thought I'd have a good chance of playing week in, week out."
GASPAR SLIPS THROUGH GLORY’S FINGERS
Perth Glory has been thwarted in their attempts to sign former State player Robbie Gaspar by the Islamic festival of Ramadan. Gaspar, currently signed to Indonesian club Sabah, was set to join Glory as replacement for the injured Simon Colosimo. However, the deal fell through when Glory were unable to contact officials in Indonesia to secure paperwork until the holy month of Ramadan ended on 21st October.
“It has taken us two weeks to make contact with the club,” coach Ron Smith explained. “Because there is fasting month, Ramadan … the (Indonesian) FA is all closed down and they just go walkabout for two weeks. So that kind of vetoed that one. (Gaspar) would have been ideal … he has done well, he is a quality player, and he would have given us a little more balance on the left-hand side of midfield.”
TOMICH FOCUSED ON THE TASK AT HAND
Tommi Tomich will be pulling out all the stops to convince Perth Glory to keep him on beyond his current short-term agreement. The 26-year old goalkeeper last week signed a four-week deal with the A-League club following another stellar season on the local scene for Western Knights. "Even though it's a short-term contract, it makes all the hard work of the past few years worthwhile," he said. "I know that I'm capable of playing in the A-League and it's now up to me to show the Glory coaches that they've made the right decision."
The long-serving Knights custodian has been training with Glory since the local season came to a close and was drafted into the squad to replace Jason Petkovic, whose season ended prematurely when he broke his leg playing against Central Coast Mariners a fortnight ago. "I wish the opportunity came under different circumstances," commented Tomich. "You don't wish a broken leg upon anyone let alone someone you know and respect, but unfortunately these things happen from time to time in all top level sports. I wish Jason all the best in making a successful recovery."
An A-League contract is a fitting reward for Tomich who played a vital role for the Knights over the winter. "I was especially pleased with my second half to the season and that I kept ten clean sheets and conceded the equal fewest goals in the Premier League," he said. "I was surprised we did so well at the back considering we were without Evan Wallace and Jon Higgins for most of the year. At the same time I have to single out Ivan Zuvela and David Annall who were both outstanding for us throughout the season."
Training under national goalkeeping coach Tony Franken and Willie McNally, and alongside Petkovic, Aleks Vrteski and Andy Petterson, has been a dream come true for Tomich. "When the opportunity to be coached by Tony and Willie came along I jumped at it," he said. "These guys have been around the game for a long time and you're constantly learning from them and improving your game and technique. It's also been excellent training with Jason, Aleks and Andy as you get to see where you need to be to make it to the A-League."
Tomich got his initial taste of national league life through a two-year apprenticeship with Glory under Bernd Stange. "I was only twenty at the time and it was my first experience of full-time football," he reflected. "Although I only made a handful of appearances on the bench, I got to see what it takes to make the grade and what I learned I put into practice when I returned to the State League. Goalkeepers get better as they get older and I'm sure I wouldn't be the 'keeper I am today if I didn't spend those two years at Glory."
The next milestone in Tomich's development came in 2003/04 when he returned to the national stage with Melbourne Knights. "The year in Melbourne was crucial to my career," he said. "At that time I didn't know if I was good enough to play in the national league, so when I started to get game time under my belt my self-belief and confidence skyrocketed." Tomich made ten appearances for the Knights during the final season of the National Soccer League. "I was gutted when the league was scrapped and there was no national competition for a year, but in saying that I came back to Perth a much better 'keeper."
Tomich has long been regarded as one of Western Australia's premier goalkeepers. Part of the Knights senior side since he was 16, Tomich played his part in the club winning the Premier League and Top Five titles in 1998. The following year he join Glory as an apprentice and successive seasons at Cockburn City and Bassendean Caledonian followed. A couple more seasons with the Knights saw him add a Night Series winners' medal and senior State honours before departing for Melbourne. He returned to Perth early in 2004 and was instrumental in the Knights claiming their second Premier League and Top Five play-off double.
GLORY DEAL BACK ON CARDS
Football Federation Australia will meet next week with businessman Tony Sage regarding the take over of Perth Glory. After months of preliminary discussions with the mining entrepreneur, the sport's peak body will press ahead with plans to transfer the club's A-League licence, currently held by FFA. "We have an application from Tony Sage's group. We are at the point were it looks good but obviously the ultimate decision will be made by the board of the FFA," said FFA operations chief Matt Carroll.
Sage and property developer John Spence are keen to revive the club who've fallen on hard times since the demise of the old National Soccer League. Former Liverpool midfielder Craig Johnston is expected to play a recruitment or development role if the Sage-Spence bid is successful. "It's something we've always wanted to do. We are passionate supporters," Sage told Jonathon Cook of the "West Australian" newspaper. More importantly for Glory's traditional fans, they are supporters with the money to revive the club as well as having an enthusiasm to retain the name and colours.
FANS VOTE STIRLING'S CUP VICTORY AS THE YEARS' HIGHLIGHT
The local football community has nominated Stirling Lions' penalty shoot-out win over Swan I.C. in the Cup Final as the stand-out moment of the past twelve months. In excess of 325 votes were received in response to last weeks footballwa.net Poll question 'What was the greatest achievement of the 2006 State League season?' with some surprising results. Finishing on top of the pile with 22.2% of the count was Stirling's dramatic Cup Final victory which was followed closely by Paul Cooke's Gold Medal success (19.8%).
David Dugdale's remarkable Golden Boot win (16.3%) was vote the third most significant achievement of 2006. Sorrento's runaway Premier League championship (15.3%) was surprisingly low on the tally board, as was Fremantle Spirit's domination of the First Division (14.3%). The pre-season Night Series triumph of Perth S.C. (6.7%) was next, while sixth place was occupied by David Rodgers' First Division Player of the Year / Golden Boot double (5.3%).
EDWARDS TO HEAD UP GIRLS TRAINING CENTRE
Former Socceroo Alistair Edwards has been appointed head coach of the girls National Training Centre program. Edwards will be assisted by former State player Jessine Bonzas and goalkeeper coach Tracy Wheeler. Edwards, holder of the FFA National Licence, played 22 'A' internationals for Australia and has coached the Young Matildas since July 2005. Coach of the State Under-15's Bonzas holds the FFA Senior Licence and is in the process of completing her State Licence. Wheeler kept goal for the national women's team 49 times and was part of four World Cup campaigns before retiring after the 2000 Olympic Games.
PETKOVIC RECALLED FOR GHANA FRIENDLY
Michael Petkovic has been given the opportunity to re-ignite his international career after being named in Australia's eighteen man squad to face Ghana in London on 14th November. It's the first time Petkovic has been called up by Australia since February this year. "We haven't seen Michael in camp since the start of the year so this match gives us a good opportunity to bring him in and see how he is progressing," said coach Graham Arnold. The Ghana friendly is part of Australia's continued preparation for the 2007 Asian Cup.
The Australian squad which meets Ghana is John Aloisi (Alaves), Scott Chipperfield, Mile Sterjovski (Basel), Brett Emerton, Lucas Neill (Blackburn Rovers), Jason Culina (PSV Eindhoven), Tim Cahill (Everton), Patrick Kisnorbo (Leicester City), Shane Stefanutto (SK Lillestrom), Mark Bresciano (Palermo), Vince Grella (Parma), Mark Schwarzer (Middlesbrough), Scott McDonald (Motherwell), Craig Moore (Newcastle United), Brett Holman (NEC Nijmegen), Michael Petkovic (Sivasspor), Luke Wilkshire (FC Twente) and Josip Skoko (Wigan Athletic).
SMITH FLOATS ROTATION PLANS
Perth Glory coach Ron Smith has revealed he will rotate his squad to keep it fresh for the club's upcoming road trip against Adelaide United and Melbourne Victory. Glory plays Adelaide on Sunday and four days later tackle Victory in a gruelling travel schedule. "We've got two games coming up in four days so I'm seriously looking at trying to bring some fresh bodies in to the team so we don't try and rely on the same guys who play in Adelaide to back-up again in Melbourne," Smith commented. "It's tough playing anywhere two games in four days because it's a huge physical load. Rather than flog people to death and try and get blood out of stone, my thinking at this stage is we might try and just rotate one or two."
WANNEROO MAKE FUTURE PLANS WITH ACADEMY
Wanneroo City are taking the right steps to ensure their continued success and viability with the establishment of a new football academy. While still in the development phase, the academy will provide junior players from the northern suburbs a career path to senior State League football and beyond. In meeting this aim, Wanneroo have appointed respected and well credentialed coach Mitch Doherty to the position of director of coaching.
Doherty's new brief is simple, yet is wide reaching. "I've been given responsibility for improving the playing standards and raising the bar in terms of overall achievement for the young players," he explained. "I'll recruit coaching staff, create and deliver an annual program, work with coach education and player development, oversee the grading process and help to foster a culture in the junior ranks for the benefit of the club."
Strategically, both Doherty and the Wanneroo club are very much on the same page. "I believe any quality youth development program should be aimed at the long-term - that is, three to five years - rather than overnight quick fixes, and the Wanneroo committee are firmly behind this line of thinking," he said. "There will be plans aimed at immediate and tangible improvement, but the core of the program will be directed towards sustainable improvements with the bigger picture in mind."
"The facilities are already in place and there's a strong focus on improving the senior squads - we'd like to underpin this with a youth program which, in the not too distant future, will produce talented players for the senior side," Doherty added. "Success can be measured in different ways and for me that means having quality players, with the right attitudes and character, wanting to come and play at Wanneroo and for these players to be supported by a team of qualified development coaches, delivering a structured development program."
Doherty came to Perth in 1999 with a wealth of playing and coaching experience garnered from time in the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany and England. He was instrumental in establishing the Kings Academy, one of the leading academy programs in the state, as part of the Manchester United Oceania wide identification program. In recent years Doherty has been assistant coach and team manager for State junior teams, and with Rick Slade and Terry Goddard set up www.unitedsoccer.com.au which has assisted clubs, coaches and players throughout WA by delivering a variety of programs.
2006 IN REVIEW : FLOREAT, COCKBURN, STIRLING AND SORRENTO
The last nine months produced plenty of thrills and spills as the twelve Premier League clubs matched skills with each other. While some clubs battled it out for the three trophies on offer, others fought tooth and nail for their top flight survival. Over the past fortnight footballwa.net has examined the seasons' of two thirds of the Premier League clubs in 2006. Our review concludes to today with the quartet of club's which finished at the top of the table - Floreat Athena, Cockburn City, Stirling Lions and champions Sorrento.
2006 was a season of two very distinct halves for Floreat Athena. The inner city club began the year in scintillating form with big wins over Armadale and Bayswater City. Over the opening nine weeks of competition they'd lose just once to go game for game with Sorrento at the top of the standings. Early highlights included good wins over Swan I.C., Cockburn City and Stirling Lions along with the goalscoring touch of Boima Karpeh. But the mid-season loss of several key players for a variety of reasons brought their title ambitions to a shuddering halt as successive losses to Western Knights were compounded by a four-goal thrashing at Armadale. Through the core quintet of Branimir Mikulic, John Migas, Paul Vlachou, Adam Bachillor and Vas Vujacic, Floreat bounced back by taking maximum points from five of their next six games, the pick of which was a 4-0 thumping of Cockburn. However, their campaign came to a disappointing end with three losses in as many weeks which slipped Michael Roki's young side down to fourth position.
If not for a poor home record early on, Cockburn City would have finished much higher than third. Coaches Billy Russell Tom Killkelly brought a new attitude and approach to Dalmatinac Park and an early season win at reigning champion Perth S.C. and a draw with Sorrento were clear indications of what Cockburn were capable of. But a 'Jekyll and Hyde' routine would play out over the next six weeks as Cockburn took maximum points on their travels only to stumble to defeat seven days later in front of their own fans. This pattern was finally broken by a Round Ten home win against Inglewood United which proved the catalyst for a nine game unbeaten run which included triumphs over Sorrento and Stirling Lions as well as a pulsating draw with Western Knights. Shane Nunes and Jason Godfrey formed the foundation of a solid defensive unit, Jason Dos Santos provided the creative drive from the middle with Michael Mirco and Josh Kamasz always dangerous in attack. But one win in their last four games saw Cockburn's title quest amount to nothing and leave supporters wondering when Cockburn will play to their full potential for an entire season.
The honour of the years' most improved goes to Stirling Lions. An appearance in the Night Series final and an 8-1 mauling of Wanneroo City on the opening weekend of the regular season were clear signs that 2006 would be a big year for the club. However, Stirling's title hopes were dealt a serious blow as they picked up just eight points from their next seven games which left them languishing towards the foot of the table. It was following after the arrival of David Dugdale, who'd net an astonishing nineteen times in twelve appearances, and resounding victories over reigning champion Perth S.C. and run away leader Sorrento that everyone sat up and took serious notice. Key roles were also played by Rob Miller, Jordan Rhodes, Kevin Henderson and goalkeeper Phil Straker as Stirling catapulted themselves up the Premier League table with ten wins from their last eleven outings. Stirling tallied up some big scores during the final weeks of the season which they closed out with a thrilling Cup Final victory over Swan I.C.
Sorrento's nine point winning margin underlines just how dominant they were over the 2006 Premier League season. The Gulls opened their account by dumping Swan I.C. on day one and from that moment on they didn't once look back. The foundation for their season of success was a remarkable fourteen-game unbeaten start to the home and away series which included a 7-0 thrashing of Bayswater City, important wins over Stirling Lions and Western Knights, and shared points with Cockburn City and Floreat Athena. Simon Harland and Todd Harnwell benefited greatly from the supply of midfielders Glen Thomas and Brad Hassell, while defensively they were underpinned by Danny Hill and Goalkeeper of the Year Neil Young. As the finish line came into sight complacency momentarily set in and both Floreat and Cockburn managed to narrow the gap. However, Sorrento weren't to be denied and a Round Twenty-One defeat of then title rival Floreat secured the trophy which was presented seven days later after downing northern neighbour E.C.U. Joondalup.
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This page was last updated on the 31st December, 2006