Perth SC’s Keltie to lead WA against Perth Glory in Heritage Cup

WA captain Clark Keltie and Football West chief executive Liam Twigger.
WA captain Clark Keltie and Football West chief executive Liam Twigger.

PERTH SC midfielder Clark Keltie will captain the WA State team against Perth Glory in the Heritage Cup at Inglewood Stadium tonight.

Keltie, who was at the helm when WA last beat Glory in 2014, said the squad selected by State coach Chris Coyne was ready for the challenge.

The former English Football League professional might have one eye on the National Premier Leagues WA (NPL WA) title, where Perth sit top of the table with two matches to play, but his mind will be set on the State team for 90 minutes tonight.

“We’ve got nothing to lose and we want to go out there and enjoy it,” Keltie said.

“We’re not going there to make up the numbers.”

The match comes less than a week after Football West chairman Liam Twigger announced an intention to push for a second A-League franchise in Perth.

He reaffirmed that position at the State team announcement on Monday night, telling stakeholders and State team members opportunity was knocking.

“Two teams in WA would generate twice the interest and double the opportunity,” he said.

WA played its first representative match in 1902 and has since taken on some of the world’s biggest clubs including Manchester United, AC Milan and Chelsea.

The State team has played irregularly since Perth Glory’s inclusion in the National Soccer League in 1996 but Twigger said the WA program would be reinvigorated as part of Football West’s A-League plan.

The Heritage Cup match was established recently to acknowledge 120 years since WA’s first league competitions kicked off and in celebration of 20 years of Perth Glory.

Coyne, who is also Bayswater City coach, said Keltie was exactly the player needed to lead the team against a Glory side preparing for an FFA Cup Round of 16 match against Sydney FC at Dorrien Gardens on August 30.

“Leaders stand out from the crowd; they have an edge about them,” Coyne said.

“They’re really driven to benefit to the team and (Keltie) has that leadership aura about him.”

Coyne was grateful to players and their clubs for their enthusiasm for the State team match.

“We had to be respectful to clubs and the positions they’re in at this time of the year when we were picking the squad,” Coyne said.

“There were players with niggles and injuries and there were a few who didn’t make the final cut who were worthy of being there. It was a tough selection but the boys who have come in have been excellent.”

Football West Technical Manager Cris Ola expected the NPL players to put up a strong showing against Glory.

“It’s become a tradition for the State team to challenge Perth Glory every year before the start of the A-League season and I’m sure it will be another interesting contest,” Ola said.

“As the NPL WA becomes more competitive, as we have seen with the league positions this year, I would expect the match with Glory will continue to produce quality football and a close contest. Kenny Lowe is preparing a very strong A-League side and I know Chris Coyne, after just a couple of training sessions, has faith in the WA squad to put on a good performance.”

The Heritage Cup kicks off at 7pm tonight at Inglewood Stadium.

WA State squad: Ellis Healing (Armadale); Trent Kay; David Heagney, Jason Mirco, Sam Mitchinson (Bayswater City); Euen Grant, Angel Andres, Cameron Edwards (Cockburn City); Gordon Smith, Lewis Italiano, Ryan Lowry (ECU Joondalup); Ludovic Boi, Jonathan Stynes, Chris Saldaris (Floreat Athena); Adam Tong (Inglewood United); Francis Soale, Clark Keltie (Perth SC); Ryan Pearson, Matthew Sparrow, Niccolo Sabatini (Sorrento).