Will it be a happy homecoming for former Perth Glory player? – 6PR

Will it be a happy homecoming for former Perth Glory player? - 6PR

A-League grand final chasing record crowd as Optus Stadium switch proves a winner for fans

Its the first time the former-NSL powerhouses will host a home final in the West since 2003, eyeing their first championship of the A-League era.

FFA Head of Leagues Greg ORourke announced on Thursday an ambitious line up of pre-game entertainment, headed by international electronic dance outfit Ministry of Sound, with recently retired A-League greats to be acknowledged pre-game.

“Playing in front of 60-odd thousand Glory fans is going to be something to cherish. And hopefully it will be a great grand final and hopefully a great party on Sunday night.”

Read more The Hyundai A-League Grand Final is the biggest day in the competitions calendar and we have worked hard to give the fans an event that will be entertaining and memorable, said ORourke.

Perth Glory players say a pumping crowd will more than make up for the loss of their traditional home ground in Sunday's A-League grand final against Sydney FC.

Current sales suggest we can potentially expect a full house on Sunday afternoon and we are confident that this will be remembered as an amazing event in the history of Australian Football.

Optus Stadium has a capacity of 60,000, but FFA dont expect Sundays grand final to reach that figure and have ruled out installing extra seats at the ground.

The previous biggest A-League grand final attendance was set in 2007 when an Archie Thompson-led Melbourne Victory defeated Adelaide United 6-0 in front of 55,436 fans at Docklands Stadium, while the record at Optus Stadium from any sport is 59,608 for last years AFL preliminary final between West Coast and Melbourne.

Meanwhile, fresh from missing out on a second Johnny Warren medal, veteran Spaniard Diego Castro is eager to lead his side to a first championship win for coach Tony Popovic, who lost three grand finals as head coach of Western Sydney Wanderers.

More than 46,000 tickets have already been sold for the match at Optus Stadium, and the crowd figure is set to soar towards the 55,000 mark by game day.

At 36 years of age, Castro should be on the decline, instead, the man dubbed El Maestro has produced arguably his best season yet, with the seven rounds he missed through injury earlier in the season seeing Wellington Phoenixs Roy Krishna pip the Glory playmaker for the A-Leagues top individual honour.

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Hes a tremendous footballer, hes a tremendous leader of us. He leads with actions, and the way he plays and trains … you feel very confident going into a game with a player like that.

“I thrive when theres so many people there. Even if theyre not for us it wouldnt really bother me. For me Im happy to be playing at Optus.”

Hes such a hard working player as well. Its not just the skills and the tricks. People dont see the movement off the ball, the running, the defending. He keeps his body in tip-top shape.

Castro will need to get past former Perth Glory player Brandon ONeill, in a star-studded Sydney FC midfield including former Johnny Warren medalist Milos Ninkovic, Ajax legend Siem De Jong and former Socceroos Alex Brosque and Josh Brillante.

Perth have built a formidable record at their home ground of HBF Park this season; winning 11, drawing two, and losing just two.

One player who wont be overwhelmed by the big occasion is veteran Glory defender Dino Djulbic, who fled war-torn Bosnia as a child, before settling in Perth aged 15.

We left our home town and we were travelling around Bosnia for about three months while the war was on. Then we moved to Croatia, and then Slovenia, and then eventually we moved to Germany as refugees.

Read more Now 36, Djulbic wants to reward his adopted home town for the faith it and Popovic have shown him after a journeyman career that seemed to be heading towards retirement a few years ago.

Glory have already played one match at Optus Stadium – a 1-0 loss to EPL powerhouse Chelsea in July last year.

Perth Glory and Sydney FC players dominated the PFA team of the season, with Perths Jason Davidson, Shane Lowry, Neil Kilkenny, Castro and Chris Ikonomidis all selected in the leagues Best XI, with Popovic named as coach and Reddy the reserve goalkeeper.

Sydneys Rhyan Grant and ONeill also earned starting berths, with Ninkovic and English sharpshooter Adam Le Fondre selected on the bench.

Both sides go into Sunday afternoons final with near full squads to choose from, with Alex Grant the only player unavailable, due to illness.

With 50,000 tickets sold as of Wednesday night, Sundays A-League grand final between Perth Glory and Sydney FC is poised to break a number of crowd records.

Despite some criticism over the decision to play the grand final at Optus Stadium, the larger venue is proving invaluable for fans desperate to see their team in action. 

The largest ever A-League grand final crowd currently stands at 55,436 – set in 2007 when Melbourne Victory beat Adelaide United at Marvel Stadium.

While the biggest crowd overall in A-League history was set at ANZ Stadium in 2016 with 61,880 fans turning out. 

As it stands, Sundays decider could break both records with 5000 drop-in seats potentially set to be added to the 60,000-seat venue should they be required.

“If we look like were going to blow past 60,000, then theyre on standby,” A-League boss Greg ORourke told the Herald.

Opened in late 2017, Glorys grand final at Optus Stadium could also break the current crowd record at the venue with 59,608 the number to beat, which was set by AFL side West Coast Eagles for a preliminary final last year. 

While the switch from HBF Park to Optus Stadium is set to ensure a mammoth crowd, Glory owner Tony Sage has voiced his concerns about the venue change.  

The FFA want to maximise revenue for themselves. They dont care what the clubs think, Sage was quoted by The West Australian.

Optus Stadium becomes a neutral ground. Thats the way I look at it. Thats the way the whole of the football department looks at it.

More news:

Stage one complete of Popovics exciting vision for Perth – Hyundai A-League
Stage one complete of Popovics exciting vision for Perth – Hyundai A-League
Sydney goalkeepers pre-penalty antics help win A-League title against Perth – The Irish News
Sydney goalkeepers pre-penalty antics help win A-League title against Perth – The Irish News
Perth Glory 0 Sydney FC 0 (aet, 1-4 on penalties) – Goal.com
Perth Glory 0 Sydney FC 0 (aet, 1-4 on penalties) – Goal.com
A-League grand final: Perth Glory v Sydney FC – The Sydney Morning Herald
A-League grand final: Perth Glory v Sydney FC – The Sydney Morning Herald
Perth hoping record crowd can push them to grand final glory – SBS – The World Game
Perth hoping record crowd can push them to grand final glory – SBS – The World Game
A-League grand final set for record crowd, as Perth eye first title – The Guardian
A-League grand final set for record crowd, as Perth eye first title – The Guardian
Vegan Protestors Yell At Meat Eating Diners At Perth Restaurant – LADbible
Vegan Protestors Yell At Meat Eating Diners At Perth Restaurant – LADbible
Vegan activists target patrons at popular Perth restaurant – Newshub
Vegan activists target patrons at popular Perth restaurant – Newshub
This is beyond insanity: how social media reacted to Perth and Adelaide thriller – Hyundai A-League
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Perth Glory to host the Hyundai A-League 2019 Grand Final at Optus Stadium next weekend – Hyundai A-League
Perth Glory to host the Hyundai A-League 2019 Grand Final at Optus Stadium next weekend – Hyundai A-League
Kurz fumes over FFAs disgusting A-League finals decision as Perth win thriller – The Guardian
Kurz fumes over FFAs disgusting A-League finals decision as Perth win thriller – The Guardian
Perth Glory vs. Adelaide United – Football Match Report – May 10, 2019 – ESPN.co.uk
Perth Glory vs. Adelaide United – Football Match Report – May 10, 2019 – ESPN.co.uk