In the early days of Balcatta coach Marc Anthony’s playing career, he rubbed shoulders with some of the best players in Scotland.
Anthony, who played for ECU Joondalup and Stirling Lions before joining Perth Glory’s Hyundai A-League team in 2008 and eventually turning his hand to coaching, grew up in a world that revolved around football.
Born in Edinburgh, Anthony trialled with Scottish and English clubs before the childhood Arsenal and Hearts fan was signed by giants Celtic in the 1990s.
“The manager at the time, Liam Brady, would call me and speak about how he wanted me to sign for the club,” Anthony said of Brady, a former Arsenal, West Ham and Ireland international considered one of the greats of his era.
“They really made me feel welcome and when I made my debut aged 17 it was one of, if not the best experience I have had in football.
“The Scottish lads John Collins, Paul McStay, Peter Grant and John Hughes were superb.
The club was also extremely fortunate to have some really great foreign lads at the time like Pierre Van Hooijdonk, Jorge Cadete, Andreas Thom and pick of the bunch and probably the best I’ve ever played with, Paolo Di Canio.”
These days, Anthony’s focus is on the PS4 NPLWA and the plight of Balcatta, who take on Inglewood United at Inglewood Stadium on Saturday.
After a slow start, in which they failed to win a game in their first four outings, they have lost only two of their past eight matches to sit fifth on the table.
“Hopefully I can get the players to play the exciting brand of football that I believe in,” he said. “The signs are positive and slowly but surely we will get there.
“The squad is very young and learning each week and in time, hope to see them at the higher end of the table competing with the bigger clubs.”
Anthony knows the importance of experience having made his first-team debut for Celtic in 1996 as a late substitute against Kilmarnock. In the same season, he came on for Di Canio as Celtic crushed Dunfermline in front of more than 50,000 at Parkhead.
Despite never playing against Rangers for the first team, Anthony has fond memories of the reserves contests against Celtic’s arch rivals.
“We had 35,000 turn up for our reserves games and in my opinion the rivalry and intensity makes it the biggest derby in football,” he said.
After leaving Celtic, he played for Clydebank, Berwick and Forfar before deciding to make the move down under. He played six times for Glory in the 2008-09 A-League season.
PS4 NPLWA FIXTURES
Saturday, June 18
Armadale v ECU Joondalup (Alfred Skeet Reserve, 3pm)
Cockburn City v Perth Glory (Dalmatinac Park, 3pm)
Bayswater City v Stirling Lions (Finance 365 Stadium, 3pm)
Inglewood United v Balcatta (Inglewood Stadium, 3pm)
Sorrento v Floreat Athena (Percy Doyle Reserve, 3pm)
Subiaco v Perth SC (Rosalie Park, 3pm)