With Kenny Lowe now the Glory’s longest serving head coach in the A-League era, the former Birmingham player has reflected on what’s been a morale boosting 2015/2016 campaign for all involved at the club.
Glory ended its eleventh instalment of the Hyundai A-League in 5th spot which booked a place in the finals for the fourth time in the competition’s history.
The 54-year-old admitted even he was somewhat surprised by their season.
“We’re in a position where we didn’t think we’d be,” Lowe said.
“I thought it would take longer to develop or grow the credibility and trust both on and off the park” he said.
“We seem to have done it in a short space of time, so from that perspective everyone’s really pleased with how the season’s gone.”
However, Lowe maintained the squad was always “very competitive” despite a lack of favourable results early on.
“I always thought we were close,” the former National Training Centre coach said.
“We were very competitive and organised.”
Glory’s season took a remarkably upward shift halfway through the term, after an astute January transfer window providing the quality necessary to turn the team’s fortunes around.
“I think bringing in the experience of Keogh, Christian [Vadocz], of Shane [Lowry] in the window, and then obviously the foreign boys like Castro settling in… it all fell into place,” Lowe said.
“The people that came in were of high quality and added value to the team on and off the park.”
One notable characteristic of the squad for next season is the unparalleled local flavour, with 13 players born or raised in WA.
“It’s deliberate, but they’ve got to be good players,” the coach acknowledged.
“The big thing for me is that you don’t cheat the Perth Glory shirt. You’ve got to be of a certain level and standard…and if you happen to be from WA, when you earn it it’ll feel more special.”
One WA player that certainly fits the billing is Bunbury-born and newly capped Socceroo Josh Risdon.
Lowe, who has overseen the clubs two highest points tallies, believes Risdon has the potential to reach greater heights on the international stage.
“There’s a World Cup coming up, if he really, really wants it he can go to a World Cup,” he said.
“There can’t be any bigger stage in the world, It’s his responsibility now to make sure he goes.”
Another highlight from the Glory’s season was the mercurial Diego Castro, as the Spaniard took out the A-League’s player of the season collecting both the Alex Tobin award and coveted Johnny Warren medal.
“He really does add value to the changing room and he really does add value to your team on the pitch.”
Lowe, will enter next season as his fourth in charge and admits joining the likes of Tony Popovic, John Aloisi and former Barcelona legend Guillermo Amor as a nominee for coach of the year is a proud moment in his career.
“To be mentioned in that hierarchy is quite humbling,” the coach believed.
“Also pleasing, but that’s just really a reflection of what the team does, so really that nomination on my part is really for everyone associated with the team and the playing group.”
Looking to the near future Lowe has been able to attract some big signings, with Socceroos Rhys Williams, Chris Herd and Adam Taggart adding an improved level of competition and quality to the squad.
“Hopefully we the club can be a conduit for Rhys, for Herdy, for Lowry, for Rizzo to go onto the next level.”
At the crux of it all though, Kenny Lowe is determined to bring success to the club.
Whether a notable signing or the rise of a local such as Risdon, Lowe believes the progress of players goes hand in hand with the results on the field.
“Ultimately we need to be successful,” Lowe mentioned.
“If he’s playing well it means we’ve played well as a team, so there’s a knock on effect from a personal level, a professional level and an impact for the club.”
The feel good factor seems to be back at nib Stadium, but Lowe vows that this couldn’t have been achieved without the unquestionable solidarity of the entire establishment.
“I want to thank everybody around the club,” said Lowe. “They aren’t only work colleagues, they’re friends, which is really special.”
Lowe also praised his family, with the coach confessing he owes a lot to his children and wife.
“I think she deserves probably more of my thanks than I can actually put into words, because she has to put up with me,” the coach joked.
With a stellar season behind him along with a plethora of talent now at his disposal, Lowe has the foundation to bring the success he, the club and the state richly deserves.