Re-writing the football record books
THE 55,522 hardy souls who braved driving rain and wind to watch English superteam Chelsea beat Perth Glory 1-0 at Optus Stadium on July 23 constituted a record attendance for a football match in WA.
And it was one of the highest attendance so far for any sporting event at the new stadium, which was opened in January, 2018.
The Chelsea-Glory game was apparently deemed a sell-out (the stadium holds 60,000) but the bad weather meant that many who had bought tickets obviously decided to stay at home instead and watch the action on television.
However, the 55,522 who chose to take their seats underlined the pulling power of Chelsea in Australia.
The London club had attracted a bumper crowd of 83,598 when they took on Sydney FC in an international game at ANZ Stadium in Sydney in 2015.
The Blues were also popular on their previous visits to Perth, drawing a crowd of over 15,000 when they beat the WA State team 1-0 at Perry Lakes Stadium in 1974 - and topping 7,000 when they overwhelmed WA 6-1 in another international showdown at the WACA Ground in 1965.
Two years after the Chelsea game at the WACA Ground, a then record turn-out of 20,600 watched Manchester United, with a team that included superstars George Best, Denis Law and Bobby Charlton, thump WA 7-0 at the cricket venue.
That attendance (which stood as the highest football turn-out in WA for over 30 years) had bettered the previous record of 18,242 who had watched Italian giants AS Roma beat the State team 4-2 in a thriller at Perry Lakes Stadium in 1966.
In 1964, the visit of Everton to face WA at the WACA Ground saw 16,019 turn up, while 14,000 watched Rapid Vienna beat the State side 6-1 at Subiaco Oval in 1955. Manchester City attracted 12,000 when they drew 1-1 with WA at Perry Lakes Stadium in 1970.
But it is Perth Glory who have figured in most bumper attendances for major football matches in more recent times.
A Subiaco Oval record of 43,242 saw the Glory's heartbreaking loss on penalties to Wollongong Wolves in the NSL Grand Final in 2000. That was the biggest attendance for a football match in Western Australia until the Chelsea-Glory encounter at Optus Stadium.
The Glory's pulling power for major contests was undeniable and, in 2002, a crowd of 42,735 saw the Perth team lose another NSL Grand Final at Subiaco Oval, this time 1-0 to Olympic Sharks.
In 2003 the Glory won their first NSL Grand Final when they got their revenge on the Olympic Sharks, winning 2-0 before a crowd of 38,111 at Subiaco Oval. The memorable goals came from Jamie Harnwell, who has since been inducted into the Football Hall of Fame WA, and Damian Mori.
For the record, the teams in the 2018 Glory-Chelsea game were:
Perth Glory: 33.Liam Reddy, 2.Alex Grant, 4.Shane Lowry, 5.Ivan Franjic (3.Jason Davidson 68'), 6.Dino Djulbic (7.Joel Chianese 68'), 8.Neil Kilkenny (20.Jake Brimmer 68') 9.Andy Keogh (c) (11.Brendon Santalab 68'), 15.Brandon Wilson (27.Juande 77'), 21.Jacob Italiano (14.Chris Harold 46'), 22.Fabio Ferriera (17.Diego Castro 77') 23.Scott Neville
Substitutes not used: 1.Tando Velaphi, 18.Daniel Stynes, 25.Walter Scott, 26.Yagoub Mustafa, 40.Jackson Lee
Chelsea: 12.Marcin Bulka, 3.Marcos Alonso (33.Emerson 46'), 4.Cesc Fabregas, 5.Jorginho (14.Tiemoue Bayayoko 46'), 8.Ross Barkley, 9.Alvaro Morata (10.Tammy Abraham 61'), 11.Pedro (22.Lucas Piazon 72'), 20.Callum Hudson-Odoi (19.Mario Pasalic 46'), 21.Davide Zappacosta (2.Ola Aina 72'), 30.David Luiz, 44.Ethan Ampadu (18.Tomas Kalas 61')
Substitutes not used: 1.Bradley Collins, 6.Danny Drinkwater, 7.Kasey Palmer, 15.Fikayo Tomori, 16.Michael Hector, 17.Charly Musonda, 13.Jared Thompson.
***John Van Oosten is still the only West Australian player to have scored against Chelsea. He was on the mark in the 6-1 loss in 1965. John, who was inducted into the Football Hall of Fame WA in 2005, was a special guest at the Optus Stadium extravaganza.
***Thanks to Richard Kreider for the magnificent photographs.