In October 1996 East Perth agreed to allow Perth Glory Soccer Club to share Perth Oval with them - their season occuring over the Summer months hence not seemingly overly interfering with East Perth's WAFL commitments. Hence Perth Oval became the inaugual home of the Perth Glory Soccer Club.
East Perth would initially enjoy the rent they received from this arrangement - all WAFL clubs being in the situation of having to earn extra revenue any way possible - however it was the beginning of a series of events that would see the Royals eventually relocate to Leederville Oval.
For the next couple of seasons East Perth were unable to play any home games for the first few weeks of the season due to the overlap with Perth Glory's NSL season. With the fixturing problems caused by Peel Thunder entering the league (this brought the number of teams to 9 forcing the introduction of a bye) Royals fans ended up being doubly aggrieved.
In 1999 the situation worsened. The Royals pre-season training was badly disrupted by not being able to use Perth Oval and it led to their worst season performance for some years - made all the more notable by the fact the previous 3 seasons the Royals had played a part in the finals and suddenly they plummeted to 8th with only the struggling Peel Thunder below them.
This led to the decision for the Royals to begin their 2000 season at Leederville Oval. The intention at the time being that about 6 weeks into the season the team would move back to Perth Oval after Perth Glory had packed up for the season. But when the time came and the Royals were on a winning streak (that led to the breaking of a 22 year premiership drought) it was felt it'd simply be easier to stay at Leederville Oval for the rest of the season.
The same happened again in 2001, but the feeling by now was that with continued government talk about building a new soccer stadium East Perth were quite prepared to stay at Leederville and rake in the rent while they could and wait out Perth Glory's move to a permanent home. In the meantime the Royals winning ways continued so being away from home didn't seem that bad.
A new stadium for Perth Glory however failed to eventuate. The last few years had seen the Court government's (ill-conceived) plans for a soccer stadium scuttled by incoming Labor, and Perth Glory make a failed attempt to takeover Leederville Oval for themselves (thwarted mainly by local residents not wanting the noise).
In 2002 though the situation was suddenly very different as the new government announced a different plan.
In a decision that promoted the rationalisation of sports grounds it was decided to redevelop Perth Oval as a rectangular sports stadium for soccer and rugby, with Leederville Oval being turned into a "Football Centre of Excellence" with the intention of having two WAFL clubs playing there - those being East Perth and Subiaco.
So why the reversal of situation? Why redevelop Perth Oval when Leederville Oval basically didn't have a tenant? Why also was the supposed heritage listing of Perth Oval completely ignored?
Perhaps because of Perth Glory's thwarted move to Leederville the government didn't see it as an option.
Also Perth Glory's rapid rise in popularity suddenly gave a perception of soccer having an association with Perth Oval.
Frustratingly though, the government had back in 1989 offered Leederville Oval to soccer prior to West Perth's move to Joondalup. However due to local soccer's continued in-fighting and disorganisation the move never came to fruition.
The decision though was largely up to East Perth, and whilest many would think agreeing to leave Perth Oval was unthinkable there were other factors at stake.
Perth Oval was not without its problems. The facilities needed major upgrading and there was a flooding problem near the the Lord Street side of the ground. If East Perth went alone they'd be forced to finance these repairs - not realistic for a WAFL club in the current climate.
Go to Leederville Oval and they'd get a government/council funded upgrade of that particular ground as well as a very affordable rental agreement - particularly helped by Subiaco sharing the ground with them.
Hence in 2002 it led to East Perth's board announcing, after a vote of support from members at the AGM, that the club would officially move to Leederville Oval.
Whilest it might sound that a lot of history was thrown away for the sake of saving some pennies, the reality is that all WAFL clubs now struggle to keep themselves viable and the decision made was a practical one that ensures the continued existance of the club.
So finally over 90 years of history came to an end when in 2003 East Perth officially moved to Leederville Oval - a ground they'll share with Subiaco in 2004.
Related Pages: Perth Oval Media Releases
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