Strikers v Glory

Round 14 report by David Marshall
Brisbane Strikers v Perth Glory

Over the years the STRIKERS had built up a reputation as drought breakers and when I woke up to persistent rain and leaden skies I thought we were at it again. However, Thor did the business, and a couple of hours before kick off the clouds lifted and a cool evening emerged. At the ground there was a marvellous coloured sky as the sun set with almost a hint of Glory puce to be seen at one stage. Handing out the Free Kick (and Christmas greetings this time) is always a good means of assessing the crowd both in size and composition. Last night it seemed up a little and this was confirmed by the Free Kick supplies being exhausted by 6.45 PM which gave me a rare chance to take my place before the match actually started. A few supporters in Glory gear came in, but at the moment it seems Liverpool are flavour of the month ("Have you ever been to Anfield?"). The little lad in the Manchester United top whom I pester each game still didn't know who United was playing this weekend and I despair that he ever will - still I like the shirt - and among the less commonly seen was a Stoke City red and white striped one. All our group had come in Santa hats and other suitable gear and Beeza, being a fair weather supporter, made his first appearance for the season.

A couple of pseudo-beers and the game was away. With us quite dominant for long periods until poor McKain somehow miskicked and hooked a ball over his shoulder with all the STRIKERS going forward on the assumption that he would clear it as he normally so reliably does, it was presented to Perth's left flanker and Despotofski was utterly unmarked to tap in after Jason Kearton had been drawn to their ball carrier. One nil to Glory, but neither the home players on the park nor the support in the stand flagged and I thought we went in at half time just shading the visitors in every way but for the scoreline. Contrary to other matches this year, the feeling in our group seemed fairly optimistic and we had had an enjoyable first half with a few merry songs and as much effort as possible in intimidating (in the nicest possible way, you understand) their Jason in goal. We were happy to let him know we think his brother's better and at one stage even his mother. We stood up because we'd won the league, reminded Glory that they choke in the finals and wondered what the hell is Chicken Treat? One song that was aired a couple of times as Kossie fielded the ball on the sideline was "Oh Kosmina" to the Korean World Cup tune. A couple of weeks ago "Kossie out" was more in vogue - fickle lot aren't we?

As it is known in sporting circles, the "seconarf" began with our lads really putting in some hard work, competing for even 40-60 balls and, for the first time this year in Brisbane at least, getting a fair go from the man in black and burnt orange (we decided) stripes. Glory had a lot of problems getting anything from the mid field and when they did they overhit through balls or (especially Morri " Too old, too slow"?) they were caught offside. We started to look more likely as time passed and the improvement in confidence the last few weeks has generated was palpable. It was not at all that amazing thus, that Roche who in my opinion is looking quite a find in his ability to hold the ball up and beat defenders, scored a goal very similar to that of the Glory, but as the result of skill and persistence rather than luck. In the remaining quarter of an hour or so, to be honest, neither side looked like snatching it and we took the chance to sing The Twelve days of Fernando with gusto before the final whistle for the year was blown. We were happy to sing We Wish You a Merry Christmas to the team and then all the players' individual songs at the end.

I thought Glory played some good stuff and their forwards move and link so well. Our strength, in the end, was the determination to "get stuck in" for the full ninety minutes. We were assisted (if that is the right word) by a fair ref who even protected Fernando Rech for once. To take the point and continue our unbeaten run against a good side will do for me, and it was in good spirits that we walked back to the car past the impressively decorated giant Christmas tree surrounded by others in like spirits.