Perth Glory manager Ian Ferguson made one point very clear following his team's 1-0 victory over Brisbane Roar in Sunday's 2012 A-League Grand Final rematch: Perth are only looking forward at the start of the new season. "People are going to talk about revenge, but revenge is when you've got the cup in your hand. This was three points today," Ferguson told reporters following the match. I'm glad that the Perth boss is keeping things in perspective, but I can also assure you that he doesn't speak for a majority of Glory supporters who haven't at all forgotten what occurred last April.
October 7 was a "rivalry day" around the football world, a day that featured matches such as Barcelona vs. Real Madrid, AC Milan vs. Inter and Seattle Sounders vs. Portland Timbers. We can now add Perth Glory vs. Brisbane Roar to the list of the most intriguing rivalries in world football. A group of Perth fans flew a banner over Patersons Stadium that contained a "Diving classes call 1300 Go Roar" message leading up to the game. Besart Berisha, the key figure in the controversial awarded penalty during last spring's Grand Final, was verbally harassed by Glory fans whenever he merely approached the ball. The loudest roar (pun intended) heard in the stadium during Sunday's game, outside of when Perth scored and when the final whistle was sounded, came after Berisha was shown a yellow card in the waning moments of the first half.
One could feel the tension on the field even from oceans away. Players from both sides were tentative, not to mention noticeably rusty, during the opening hour of play, and there were several times when it appeared that the hosts would crack under the pressure created by over 10,000 fans yearning for vengeance. You didn't have to look into the stands or even at the faces of the Glory players to realize just what the victory meant to those associated with the club. Team president Tony Sage rushed onto the pitch in celebration before the referee finished blowing his whistle for the last time, a show of emotion you might not expect from a team exec following the first match of the season.
Perth defender Bas van den Brink was heroic in the defensive third minus one nervy moment when he accidentally played Berisha into the box with a back pass that didn't reach goalkeeper Daniel Vukovic. Van den Brink routinely out-hustled and out-muscled Brisbane attackers, and he was, for my money, the best overall defender on the pitch. More importantly for Perth was that they abused Brisbane down the wings in both halves. Such an assault down the left wing landed the Glory up a goal one minute before stoppage time, when Billy Mehmet nodded home a Scott Jamieson cross.
Perth were the recipients of good fortune and a bit of justice less than a minute after Mehmet scored what was to be the match-winner. Brisbane's Ben Halloran was gifted far too much space while inside the right portion of the Glory penalty area, and the Roar man fired off an attempt that ricocheted off the near post. Seconds later, Do Dong-Hyun was bumped into by a defender while rushing after the rebound. Dong-Hyun dramatically flopped to the surface, and he was shown a yellow card for his antics.
"Not this time" is all this Perth supporter has to say about that particular incident.
Ferguson is right in saying that Perth can only get true revenge for the 2012 Grand Final loss by winning it all this time around. Sunday was a step in the right direction, and the Glory are one of four teams to be on three points following the first weekend of the 2012-13 season. Perth and Brisbane won't meet again until December 21.
That's quite the early Christmas gift.