Retro Corner – Farewelling a legend

Jamie Harnwell retirement with kids

Fancy rewinding the clock by a decade or so to remember the final playing appearance of a true Glory legend?

What if we throw a bit of Rihanna and Wynter Gordon into the mix and reference “Black Swan”, arguably the greatest ballet-based psycho-drama ever produced?

We knew that would get you over the line, so let’s get into it…

A club record 268 appearances in all competitions across a 12-year spell in purple.

One of only three Glory players to feature in each of the club’s four NSL Grand Final appearances and the only one to score in two of them.

The club’s inaugural A-League captain and the scorer of 46 Glory goals despite only being converted into a centre-forward in the final years of his career.

While the word legend is wildly over-used amidst the hyperbole that swirls around football so much of the time, it is entirely fitting when it comes to Jamie Harnwell.

Jamie Harnwell celebrates v Roar

His position among the pantheon of club greats is set in stone; his status with the Glory faithful perhaps best illustrated by the fact that when he found himself out-of-favour and marginalised by Head Coach Ron Smith, t-shirts demanding his reinstatement became a must-have item for many of a purple persuasion.

Quite simply, the former Sorrento man was relatable before being relatable was even a concept.

Passionate, committed, combative and technically much better than he was perhaps given credit for, opponents and teammates alike were quickly made aware that Harnwell was not one for backing down.

And one look at the photos from the aftermath of any of Glory’s most famous victories says everything about his love-love relationship with the club’s supporters.

Jamie Harnwell celebrates with fans after 1999 Elimination Final v Adelaide

Jamie Harnwell and Bas Hanna - 2004 NSL Grand Final

So when the Perth local came to the difficult decision to hang up his boots in February 2011, it’s little wonder that there was barely a dry eye in the house.

And yet Harnwell was almost denied the chance to say farewell at all.

A red card following an aerial clash with Central Coast’s Matt Simon in Round 23 meant he faced a potential three-game suspension which would have ruled him out for the rest of the season.

Following a tense wait, however, a two-game ban was handed down by the match review panel and he was free to play in the final fixture of the 2010-11 campaign, at home to Gold Coast United.

So as Wynter Gordon’s “Dirty Talk” was ousted from top spot in the singles chart by Rihanna’s “S&M” and Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis went tete-a-tete in tutus, at Perth Oval the curtain fell on Harnwell’s playing career.

Unfortunately, Miron Bleiberg’s Gold Coast side hadn’t read the script which demanded a hat-trick from the departing hero and a thumping Glory victory.

Instead, a brace of Shane Smeltz penalties steered them to the three points, with Adam Taggart’s first ever senior goal proving to be just a consolation for the hosts.

But the result faded into insignificance as the final whistle sounded and the tears began to flow on and off the pitch.

Surrounded by his family, Harnwell bade an emotional and lingering farewell to the supporters with whom he had shared some of the club’s greatest highs and deepest lows.

Jamie Harnwell and son on his retirement

His playing days were over, but his Glory story was certainly not.

Look out for an exclusive in-depth video and podcast interview with Jamie coming your way very soon as part of our exciting new media project to mark the club’s 25th anniversary.