To celebrate the final swansong of a ground with which Perth football fans have a love/hate relationship, I caught up with Kasey Wehrman, former Olyroo and Socceroo, who also played with Perth Glory between 1999-2001. Subiaco Oval hosted its final game (of AFL) yesterday, 109 years after it first opened. 

Kasey was a player that was caught up in the hype and the tribulations of playing for Perth Glory during the mania that captivated Perth during the early period of its NSL history.

One of the first questions I ask is how the level of  media intensity around the world game in Perth compared with his experiences in Europe, which were to come later.

“Definitely it was equal to some of the bigger clubs in Europe, not all of the clubs in Europe had the same intensity," he tells me.

“For Ljubo (Milicevic) and myself, coming to Perth made the transition a lot easier to go to Europe. We had already moved to another country really. It was these games that put us on the world stage.

“It was like stepping back in time with the crowds that were going to the games in Melbourne and Sydney in the 60s and 70s.”

Subiaco Oval hosted the largest major semi-final crowd in NSL history when 42,760 passionate football fans attended the match between Perth Glory and Wollongong Wolves in May 2000. The Ivan Ergic goal that brought the house down in Perth is a moment that I see as one of the greatest sporting moments in Western Australian history.

For all the good about being with Perth Glory, it was a challenge moving from Brisbane Strikers to Perth Glory for Kasey. He moved into an environment that was crazy for football, from the relative obscurity he experienced when he played for the Strikers.

“It was definitely a challenge coming to Perth and being part of an environment where the press would write good things and bad things about you. But it made me a better player and coach. It is something that I have taken with me to Europe.

Was Queensland more parochial than Western Australia?

Wehrman chuckles as he recounts the story from the 1997 Grand Final.

“Very similar. I remember at the 1997 Grand Final in Brisbane, and the cops went to Sydney United fans and just kicked them out of the ground. “

Subiaco Oval plays a part in the Glory story, despite its distance from the pitch and inadequate facilities. 

“I think people should remember the moments. People who were at that game were part of the bigger stage. It helped Ljubo, Ergic and myself transition to Europe much easier than if we hadn’t played with the Glory. They were the A-League already”.

Wehrman talks about the 2000 Grand Final where Glory lost on penalties.

“I always remember that final. I went from that to the Olympic Games. As a younger player you don’t really appreciate these moments at the time.

“I think the players on the pitch should have got it done. We had enough experience. I still wake up at night with bad sweats remembering that game."

The fans of Perth were gripped with football mania which saw them have huge expectations on a player that was seen to be a marquee signing.  

“I remember one time I was heading up to the stands and I had fans giving it to me at both sides of the stand and giving me a serve. Gareth Naven took me in and just guided me to where I needed to be.

“On the other side, when I played well I was congratulated. But I was certainly told by the fans and the media when I didn’t.”

Despite these learning experiences, Wehrman says he still remembers the Western Australian capital fondly.

“I love Perth, it has a special place in my heart”.

Perth Glory went onto win its first NSL Grand Final in 2002 against Sydney Olympic 2-0 at Subiaco Oval in front of 38,111 people.

Kasey Wehrman typifies Subiaco Oval. We loved him. We were frustrated when he didn’t deliver what we wanted him to do - but he is still part of the soul of the club.

Thanks Subi. 

Categories: People | Football Life

perth glory, nsl, kasey wehrman, subiaco oval

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