Simply Glorious: Perth’s top five finals moments

Scott Neville of the Glory celebrates after scoring a goal in extra time during the A-League Semi Final match between the Perth Glory and Adelaide United at HBF Park on May 10, 2019 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Will Russell/Getty Images)
Scott Neville of the Glory celebrates after scoring a goal in extra time during the A-League Semi Final match between the Perth Glory and Adelaide United at HBF Park on May 10, 2019 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Will Russell/Getty Images)

GRAND Final fever has swept Perth this week, with the Glory seeking to claim their maiden A-League title, and their first national premiership since 2004. Ahead of the decider against Sydney at Optus Stadium on Sunday, we take a trip down memory lane and revisit Perth Glory’s top 5 finals moments.

5. Despotovski’s last-gasp winner at the WACA

1998-99 was a season of firsts for Perth Glory. It was their first season under maverick German coach Bernd Stange, and their first season in the National Soccer League (NSL) finals. After drawing 0-0 against an Adelaide City side featuring future Glory legends Damien Mori and Jason Petkovic in their first ever finals game, the teams travelled to the WACA for the return leg. Mori’s free kick gave Adelaide the lead with 20 minutes to play, but Jamie Harnwell headed home an equaliser soon after. With the score tied on aggregate, Adelaide were set to progress having scored more away goals over the two legs. The home side desperately poured men forward and were rewarded when Bobby Despotovski popped up to nod home a late winner. In the aftermath, an over-excited Stange kissed a passing policewoman on the cheek as Glory fans celebrated their first big finals moment.

4. Reddy’s heroics send Perth into the Grand Final

The most recent entry in this list, but last Friday’s game will go down in Glory folklore. Leading 2-0 late and seemingly cruising towards a home Grand Final, two late Adelaide goals sent the game into extra time. Scott Neville looked to have won it with a header, only for Michael Marrone to respond with one of his own to send the game to penalties. A sense of disbelief and gloom set in when Diego Castro missed his spot kick, but Reddy single-handedly pulled Perth back into the contest. He saved four penalties, including the final three, and even converted a penalty of his own before Joel Chianese sent the Glory into their first home Grand Final since 2003.

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3. Ergic wins it with a golden goal

The 1999-2000 season was the season Perth Glory came of age, sweeping to the National Soccer League minor premiership and setting up a two-legged finals series with Wollongong Wolves. Needing a two-goal win to seal a debut Grand Final berth, it seemed as if it was not going to be the hosts’ night in front of a feverish crowd at Subiaco Oval. However, teenage substitute Ivan Ergic turned the game on its head and won a penalty which Rob Tajkovski converted to send the game into extra time. The wonderkid went one better in extra time and drove into the penalty box before he slid home to seal a home Grand Final. Ergic went on to seal a move to Italian giants Juventus and although he never played for them, he did make over 200 appearance for Swiss powerhouses FC Basel and was part of Serbia’s 2006 World Cup squad.

2. Mrdja makes it back-to-back titles

Played at Parramatta Stadium in the midst of a torrential downpour, the final NSL Grand Final was not the most memorable. Despite claiming the minor premiership for winning the league, Perth had been thoroughly outplayed in their two-legged finals series with Parramatta Power and had to take the long road to the Grand Final. After a goalless 90 minutes, the game turned to extra time when Mori worked his way into the box and the ball fell kindly to Nik Mrdja, who fired home to secure the Glory’s second championship in as many years. That goal and Glory’s championship repeat brought the NSL era to a close.

1. Perth get the monkey off their back

After two home A-League Grand Finals in three years had ended in heartbreak (Wollongong in 2000) and frustration (Olympic Sharks in 2002), Perth got their third crack at a maiden championship against the Sharks. A tense Subiaco Oval crowd, all 38,111 of them, had their spirits lifted when Harnwell climbed to nod home Simon Colosimo’s header after half an hour. With Grand Finals of past years firmly in their minds, Perth rose to the occasion and saw off the Sharks challenge while picking their spots to go forward. With mere minutes to play, Scott Miller embarked upon a mazey run down the left wing, before teeing up an off-balance Mori to slot home and seal Perth’s first championship.