The Good, The Bad & The Ugly of Round 25 of the A-League

THE GOOD

-With Glory booted out of the finals it would have to be their antagonistic rivals who would benefit from it. Brisbane Roar will now play in the finals following the FFA’s decision on Friday and celebrated by playing the frustrating Adelaide United off the park at Hindmarsh on Saturday afternoon.

The champions have had an awful season by their standards with the Mulvey affair among other things. This team has been here before though. They watch, they learn, they come back with last season a prime example of this. The league next season will feature a strong Roar team but with the right players on the park after a horrible run with injury they may do some damage in the finals. They’re not Carlton circa 2013 after all.

– As we talked about last week the Newcastle Jets have a much derided owner and coach with a side full of ex-youth team players and has beens but their form hasn’t been the worst. Following close losses to United and Glory and a win over Wanderers they were still seen as small fry and easy prey for the table topping Victory on Friday night.

With odds at around 11/2 and even their team bus being late to the ground due to protests in the Melbourne CBD the Jets put on a heroic performance to win 1-0 and cause one of the upsets of the season. But was it such an upset? Victory didn’t seem to be switched on at all on Friday night and the Jets were organised defended deep and kept up their cohesive efforts of the previous weeks. It may have been on the cards.

Perhaps Stubbins might be the man for the job with the players seen as toxic around the club shifted out in January. Kenny Lowe bore the brunt of Glory fans anger when he took over half way through last season before getting the side to the top of the table for a majority of this season. It’s a long shot but could Stubbins do the same if left alone to develop the side? It’s a big call but possible just like it was with Kenny and the Glory but the Jets wouldn’t have the CEO and owner blatantly cheating by going over the salary cap and leaving the coach, players and fans to hang out to dry like Glory have done.

-The Mariners are having their most challenging season in 10 years of the A-League with their private owner eyeing off more apparently lucrative markets on the North Shore and the team being their worst on paper but at least they got to send off one of their greats in style on Saturday night.

John Hutchison could be considered ‘tough but fair’ when it comes to his playing style that has him in a league similar to Kevin Muscat and Jacob Burns. Like those players though his leadership was second to none and was part of a team that was small in crowd numbers, profitability and style but big in team work and eventually success captaining their 2013 title winning side.

His last home game in Gosford was a winning one and a fitting send off against the struggling Western Sydney Wanderers. The retirement of the 35 year old Maltese international (yes, really) also is another one of the players from the NSL era to fade away leaving only handful now left from the old league.

THE BAD

-I’ve always been a big fan of the rough diamond that is Joel Griffiths. The Novacastrian is another from the NSL days and fitted perfectly in to Gary Van Egmond’s title winning Jets side in the third season of the A-League. In this 2007/08 season he scored a heap of goals, was awarded player of the season and even got away with not getting a suspension after punching a linesman in the bollocks early in that successful season.

It seems as though the striker who was huge talent of sniffing out a goal but short of grey matter may had played his last game after injuring a knee at the age of 35 putting him out for 12 months. After the fall out of the Jets debacle in January it seemed as though Griffiths was finished then but he found a great home in Wellington where off the bench he could be used to very good effect by Ernie Merrick much like Shane Smeltz is like for Sydney FC. Unfortunately a year on the sidelines means that’s probably it for Joel, one of the more polarising players to play in the league it has to be said.

THE UGLY

-I will say one thing about my team Perth Glory, they’re consistent. Consistent in having every season end in farce when they make a Grand Final. Consistent in having a majority of their football loving supporters in a tough sports market in Perth considering every season if they should even bother getting a membership ever again. Consistent in ensuring any legacy they had as a professional new outfit built during the NSL days dragging the sport in this country in to the 20th century is all but gone.

The FFA finally came down hard on the West Australian club last Friday over salary cap breaches that had occured over three years with a horrible cover up to boot. The club would be stripped of a finals appearance and, again, had left the players and their fans severelly let down. This is another disasterous turn of events for the club’s owner Tony Sage and amateur at best CEO Jason Brewer who raised the further ire of fans when seen choffing down a beer during the game last Friday. At the start of this season with the twitter hashtag of #notgivingin the club made noises of reconnecting with fans, of committees for more self important fans to voice their concerns to the club directly and getting it together on the pitch with the right mix of youth and experience. The last one is the only one they got right and even that was by cheating the salary cap.

The FFA’s punishment is just, despite it being a decision that’s a little wishy-washy in its message. The reaction by Glory to fight this all the way and drag it out isn’t just at all. While most Glory fans beaten in to submission over the years will just accept it all with the usual world weary sigh that only supporters of a Footscray or Newcastle United like side would know, some fans went way over the top in disgusting scenes on Friday night. One teenager was taken to hospital with burns with another two being charged with GBH after the lighting of flares thinking they were on some terrace in Eastern Europe rather than at a redeveloped footy ground in East Perth. While the culture of the terraces can provide colour and atmosphere when done right this was just unforgivable and another death knell for the ‘brand’ Perth Glory. Having a team full of journeymen being paid a pittance achieving no results on the pitch is one thing. Being found to be cheats and having images of young fans acting like complete dicks is another.

The only way the club can be saved under this name is perhaps by the original founder of the club, Nick Tana, to take over again and sweep everyone up in a wave of nostalgia for the days when the club was a king pin in a dying league winning trophies showing that multicultural clubs with no ties to ethnic backgrounds was the only way forward. Even in those heady days of 1996-2004 Nick was no saint with some of his business acumen. Tana was at the game on Friday night so the move may well happen. Would Sage let the licence go? He may well be another Tinkler and just hang on to the club to be more of a hindrance to the league rather than anything else, just like the futile attempts he is now making to deny any wrongdoing and stop the FFA making this decision by almost going to the Supreme Court for an injunction that would have been laughed at.

Kenny Lowe was near tears in the press conference on Friday night clearly blindsided by all that had happened and had seen all his fantastic work he had done over the past 12 months go down the drain. This was a man who had copped criticism from all and sundry the previous season after stepping in following the Edwards sacking achieving awful results pleading with fans to be patient. He then turned the team in to table topping dynamo this season only for this to now happen. He maybe should have now stayed in his higher paying engineering job. I honestly feel for him and the vast majority of the players who had no knowledge of all of this. The ones that knew that their partners were being paid huge amount of money in to their accounts and that something fishy was going on should be ashamed of themselves.

There will always be a side in Perth due to the TV deal but whether or not it’s a rehashed franchise is another question. The FFA also have to make further investigations in to all teams seeing as Glory were only caught because of a tip off by a disgruntled employee. Ernie Merrick has called out the FFA on this and so should other as the professionalism and integrity of the league may be at stake. Happy days!

About Dennis Gedling

RTR FM Presenter. Glory Guerrillas Producer and Co-Host. Contributer to Football Nation Radio and Football West. Worships at the feet of the mighty Cats, Socceroos, Matildas, West Perth, Glory and Glasgow's Green and White most of the time.

Comments

  1. Vaughan Menlove says

    Another great article Dennis. Agree on Glory the spirt of the great side from the NSL is gone. I hear alot of the former players are no longer part of the club ie Harmwell and Naven. Tana could be the saviour, but doesn’t he own the stadium and charges Glory a massive sum each week to play there? We need a well run Perth club for the league to be successfull

  2. Dennis Gedling says

    Harnwell is coach of the women’s team and a successful one at that. It’s just they’re actually ran by Football West. Naven is currently suing the club for unpaid wages and along with Ali Edwards is seen as the one who is likely to have leaked the salary cap information. Makes it all a bit awkward when a corporate room at NIB Stadium is named after him. It seems the attempt to bring back the old guard resulted in his punishment in a roundabout kind of way. Sage needs to go for this club/franchise whatever to go anywhere now.

  3. Very disappointing that soccer has missed the trampoline of Asian success but some issues were always going to arise and must be addressed. Good on them for not hiding…Perth’s crimes are such as shame as Kenny has been terrific press and there’s a solid fan base over there. Jets, Mariners, Heart, even the golden child of WSW, are all still flaky and some of the games have been terrible recently. Needing a great finals series (though the Melbourne venue dilemma may yet be an embarrassment)
    Thanks for all your fabulous reports/updates

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