WESTERN Australia is a state which takes its sport seriously – and its fans have been have been handsomely rewarded over the past decade. Perth’s plethora of sporting teams and athletes have maintained a rich vein of success throughout the last ten years.
With the decade coming to a close, Community News ranked the state’s ten most important sporting moments from 2010-2019.
Firstly, some honourable mentions. Perth Scorchers’ three titles early in the decade were impressive, but ultimately left off due to the Big Bash being somewhat of a novelty. Arguably the two greatest tennis players of the modern era in Roger Federer and Serena Williams facing off at the 2018 Hopman Cup was a poignant way for the storied tournament to end and was unlucky to miss the cut.
Diego Castro’s volley against Melbourne City to take Perth Glory to the finals was also considered, as were Perth Heat’s four Australian Baseball League titles, but ultimately fell short of the top 10.
10. Optus Stadium opens for business
It’s the stadium Western Australia’s legions of sports fans deserved – a world class Colosseum fit for the masses. Fremantle and West Coast settled in quickly and enjoyed record average attendance in back-to-back years. The stadium has already lived up to it’s billing as a multi-sports venue, having successfully hosted test cricket, an A-League grand final, a Bledisloe Cup match and marquee friendlies featuring Manchester United and Chelsea.
9. AFLW’s watershed day
It was landmark day for women’s sport in Australia when Optus Stadium hosted Fremantle’s AFLW clash with Collingwood. 41,975 fans turned out to see the stadium’s maiden football game, the most ever at the time for a women’s sporting event in Australia. It proved the pulling power of women’s sport and the appeal of the AFLW was here to stay. Critics may scoff, but the wave of participation in girls sport as a result of events like this is nothing to be sneered at.
8. Bryce Cotton introduces himself
Half a season is all it took for Bryce Cotton to cement himself in Wildcats folklore The wiry guard broke James Ennis’ record for most points on debut, his slender frame and ability to get buckets from anywhere on the court meaning he often resembles an NBA Jam character more than an NBL player. His mid-season signing in the 2016-17 season proved the catalyst for a stunning turn around which saw the Wildcats go from bottom of the table to securing their second championship in a row in a matter of months. They swept the Illawara Hawks in the grand final, with Cotton’s game three performance the stuff of legends as he scored 45 points off a staggering 12-17 shooting, including 7-10 from beyond the arc, every three another dagger into the heart of the Hawks.
7. Perth Glory claim the premier’s plate
For most of the decade, Perth Glory had been a punchline within the WA sporting scene. But last season’s premiership proved to be different, as Tony Popovic steered the side to finish top of the league in his first season in charge. Built on the steely defense of Shane Lowry and Matthew Spiranovic, the verve of wing-backs Ivan Franjic and Jason Davidson, the flair of Diego Castro and Chris Ikonomidis and the goals of Andy Keogh, Perth claimed the premier’s plate in style – although another dose of Grand Final heartbreak was sadly waiting round the corner.
6. Ricciardo – finally – wins the Monaco Grand Prix
The Monaco Grand Prix remains the gold standard for F1 races on the calendar, and Daniel Ricciardio was heartbroken after a 40-second pit-stop cost him victory at the race in 2016. Two years later, it looked like lightning would strike twice when he qualified fastest and led the race early, only to be hit by engine failure. For 50 laps he toiled on with just six out of eight gears working and 25 per cent less horsepower than usual – but produced arguably his finest drive, holding off Vettel and Lewis Hamilton on one of the trickiest circuits in the world to seal an emotional victory.
5. Ryan Harris ruins Alastair Cook’s bails
The WACA has seen its fair share of memorable moments, and Mitchell Johnson’s electrifying 6-38 spell in the 2010-11 Ashes test in Perth deserves the most honourable of mentions. But Ryan Harris’ first ball extraction of Alastair Cook’s soul in 2014 has gone down in Australian cricket folklore. Needing 504 runs to win and stay alive in the series, England’s hopes were in tatters after the the opening ball of the innings. Harris steamed in and delivered a rocket which caught a sweet spot on the pitch, evaded Cook’s desperate defensive shot and clipped the bails, leaving the stumps untouched.
Happy Ryan Harris Day. Today marks six years since Ryan Harris delivered the perfect delivery to dismiss Alastair Cook first ball at the WACA. pic.twitter.com/Df4k91ADpM
— Matt Goss (@mattgoss_) December 15, 2019
4. Sam Kerr signs for Chelsea
Sam Kerr’s ascension to the top of the football world has been unstoppable, the spearhead of a Matildas’ side which captured the hearts and the minds of the nation over the course of the decade. She has conquered the W-League, the National Women’s Soccer League and the international scene – and is only 26-years-old. Choosing just a single moment of Kerr inspiration is like trying to pick your favourite Simpsons quote: there are simply too many options to settle for one. But her recent decision to sign for Chelsea, one of the biggest clubs in the world, is a decision which could propel her to another level, the one reserved for the likes of Messi, Ronaldo and Marta.
New chapter begins in BLUE, lets go! pic.twitter.com/8ljGrBKKP4
— Sam Kerr (@samkerr1) November 13, 2019
3. Fyfe’s double Brownlow
It is nothing short of a miracle Nat Fyfe has never had to undergo off-season back surgery, such is the extent to which he has carried Fremantle over the past decade. From wispy, second round pick to arguably the league’s finest inside midfielder, Fyfe has emerged as a leader capable of willing his team to victory. He inspired the Dockers to their maiden minor premiership in 2015 with eye-popping stats and claimed a Brownlow Medal in lieu of a flag. After injuries and the Dockers’ middling form pushed him down the pecking order of the AFL’s most celebrated stars, he roared back with a vengeance in 2019 to become the 12th player in history to win dual Brownlows.
2. Wildcats’ famous five
The decade was bookended by Wildcats titles, the first ending their ten-year title drought and the last making it five banners in ten years. They have established themselves as Perth’s most successful sports team, a winning machine which has not missed the post-season since 1986. Grand final victories over Wollongong/Illawarra (2010 and 2017), Adelaide (2014), New Zealand (2016) and Melbourne (2019) were intertwined with two narrow Grand Final losses to the Breakers. The likes of Redhage, Martin, Cotton, Prather, Beal, Lisch and Ennis all dominated the league throughout the decade and played pivotal roles in delivering more and silverware to The Jungle. Their most recent flag was not special; it was simply, business as usual.
It’s the passage every West Coast supporter has tattooed into their memory. A Hollywood finish to crown an epic come-from-behind victory on the biggest day on the Australian sporting calendar. It looked as though the Eagles’ heroic fightback from 29 points down would fall short after they squandered a plethora of chances in the final quarter. But then came McGovern’s towering mark as he hovered in the defensive 50, followed by a laser of a kick to Nathan Vardy. Liam Ryan produced a hanger from Vardy’s floated kick, before he wheeled around and found Dom Sheed hard up against the boundary line. Lesser men would have gone for the banana; Kalgoorlie’s finest export instead threaded the needle to deliver West Coast’s fourth premiership.