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Perth Glory's long-suffering fans deserve their change of fortune

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Expert
18th February, 2024
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Perth Glory’s 3-2 win over Brisbane Roar on Saturday night was the icing on the cake of a week in which the club’s long-standing ownership issues were finally put to rest.

Before we dive head-first into what the Ross Pelligra era might mean for the team from the west, let’s first pay tribute to Tony Sage.

The fast-talking businessman, mining deal-maker and occasional fashion impresario was not always everyone’s cup of tea.

“Several Glory players say Tony’s rousing half-time pep talks have inspired them to push through the pain barrier of a game’s closing stages to bring home the win,” reads a paragraph on Sage’s personal website.

But Sage, for all his bluster, loves the city of Perth. And more than that, he loves Perth Glory.

At a time when so much of the league’s talk is around finding investors, it shouldn’t be forgotten that for years Sage put his hands in his own pockets to ensure football fans in Western Australia continued to have a professional club to call their own.

No word on whether Pelligra gave a stirring half-time speech in Saturday night’s rollercoaster win over the Roar, but one thing is certain – coach Alen Stajcic made all the right moves.

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With his side 2-1 down at the end of an entertaining first half, Stajcic made a triple substitution on the hour mark that changed the game.

In came Stefan Colakovski, Trent Ostler, and Joel Anasmo – and it was the hard-running Anasmo who set up the equaliser, as he charged straight at the Roar defence and saw a rebound drop fortuitously for the in-form Adam Taggart to volley home.

The difference between Perth’s attack and Brisbane Roar’s was plain for all to see, as erstwhile Socceroos striker Taggart produced a couple of clinical finishes to take his tally to 13 goals for the season, while Roar coach Ruben Zadkovich took off his teenage striker Tom Waddingham after 56 minutes.

Zadkovich said his team looked “a bit leggy” following on from last weekend’s 5-1 demolition of Melbourne City, but the truth is Stajcic’s substitutions made a real difference.

So too did Zadkovich’s, just not in the way he would have hoped.

James Nikolovski had looked impressive lining up in the starting side for captain Tom Aldred in recent weeks, but it was the young defender’s risky pass that led to fellow substitute Colakovski’s late winner.

Cue pandemonium in The Shed behind the goal, and it’s hard to argue Perth Glory fans don’t deserve a bit of fortune.

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(Photo by James Worsfold/Getty Images)

Glory have now picked up 11 points from the last 15 on offer – and it would have been more had they not conceded that last-gasp equaliser away in Adelaide last Friday night.

Property developer Pelligra allegedly paid a token amount for the club, but he’s promised to clear Glory’s crippling debts and make them a force in Australian football once again.

He’s already helped lead Sicilian outfit Catania from Serie D to Italy’s third tier and may potentially involve former Socceroos midfielders Mark Bresciano and Vinnie Grella in running Perth.

Whatever the Glory’s new managerial make-up, Pelligra’s takeover is at least one weight off the Australian Professional Leagues’ shoulders.

They’ve had Western Sydney coach Marko Rudan spitting venom in recent weeks, and the suspended Wanderers tactician would have been seeing red in the wake of the Central Coast Mariners’ 1-0 win on Sunday.

Football Australia’s ‘respect’ campaign is a laudable initiative in a sport where far too many referees are being lost to our game.

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Western Sydney Wanderers coach Mark Rudan gestures from the sideline

Western Sydney Wanderers coach Mark Rudan. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

But the A-League’s problem – and it puts those who’d rather not focus on these issues in a bind – has always been one of consistency.

If Wanderers defender Tate Russell deserved two yellow cards last weekend, then it’s hard to understand how Mariners defender Jacob Farrell didn’t deserve the same on Sunday.

At least the Glory’s ownership issues have been resolved.

They may cling to that ‘west versus the rest’ tag more than any of us understand, but a more competitive A-League can only be a good thing.

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