Sydney Olympic remain baffled by Perth Glory’s abrupt cancellation of Wednesday night’s match at Belmore Oval.
Perth arrived at the venue more than 2 hours before kick-off but left soon after unhappy with the safety of conditions.
An hour later, match officials arrived to officiate the FFA-sanctioned game oblivious to the unfolding drama.
Coach of the NPL side, Grant Lee, said he spoke briefly with Glory boss Kenny Lowe on the night but remained perplexed.
“In 35 years of pro football I’ve never experienced it before – never seen it or experienced it,” Lee told FourFourTwo.
“It just seemed funny from the outset.
“When I tried to talk to Kenny he said ‘oh mate I can’t change the players’ minds, they’re not happy with a couple of things that have happened. They’re not in a mental state to play now’.”
Olympic were left with egg on their face after inviting a range of corporate sponsors to attend the friendly.
Lowe told Perth radio station 6PR his players were uable to access the changerooms or warm-up area due to an U-16s match.
Perth played fellow A-League outfit Adelaide United at the same 23,000 seater stadium on Sunday. But in a statement on their official Facebook page, the club backed Lowe’s decision to pull the pin.
"The decision not to proceed with the match was made by the Glory's Head Coach and the Clubs coaching staff who were unable to safely prepare the team at the venue in order for the game to proceed," the statement read.
“The Club wholeheartedly supports the decision made by its coaching staff. The cancellation at such a late time is highly disappointing particularly given all at the Club and at Sydney Olympic were keen for the game to proceed.
“The Club will not be making any further comment on the matter.”
A tweet was posted notifying fans of the cancellation.
PRE-SEASON | We regret to advise, due to unforeseen circumstances the @sydneyolympic game has been cancelled. We apologise for inconvenience
— Perth Glory FC (@PerthGloryFC) July 23, 2014
Lee said he walked in on a Perth team "huddle" about 20 minutes after the players arrived and soon after they were back on the bus and heading out.
He understood the visitors raised concerns about the advertised 7.30pm kick off time and the fact that U16s were warming-up on the same pitch for the curtain-raiser. But he said the young players were quickly shifted to a back field so Perth could have access to the entire pitch.
“I’m totally in the dark,” Lee added.
“As I say I just can’t fathom the reasons why (it was cancelled). It’s just unprecedented.
“(Our players) were expecting a really good quality game against quality opposition to showcase their wares, their attributes and capabilities to step up to that level. They were all primed for the game.”
The match was factored into Olympic’s preparation for their FFA Cup opener against Manly United on Tuesday night.
“You structure everything around – the training sessions and everything else – to prepare the boys for those things,” Lee said.
“You’ve got to suddenly regroup, refocus and get the boys’ head back round it again. It’s disappointing they didn’t play (last night) but it happens.”
The clubs are currently in negotiations to strengthen ties with reciprocal matches planned in the future.
Perth billed Wednesday night’s game as a resumption of rivalries between old National Soccer League adversaries which reached their zenith in the 2002 and 2003 grand finals played out in front of sold-out crowds at Subiaco Oval.
Sydney Olympic won the former 1-0 but Glory hit back the following year to take the title with a 2-0 triumph.
Perth reproduced a copy of the original match program from Glory’s first ever National Soccer League game against Olympic on the 13th October 1996 in honour of the event.