This isn’t a column about a penalty. It’s not a piece of post-match tactical analysis. I’m not even going to tarnish the screen space with talk about the referee, or yet another display of FFA ‘professionalism’. No; all these things can wait for another day. Today, all I want to write about it is the mass of purple that descended on Brisbane, and the team called Perth Glory that they all came to see.

Arriving on Saturday night, it was pretty obvious stepping out onto Roma St that local backpackers bar Tin Billy’s had been packed out by the Glory faithful. Among them was Blayne, a dedicated Glory fan for whom we’d all chipped in to ensure he could view the game from Suncorp’s seats rather than a dodgy British internet café. Amusingly enough this gesture had made the front page of The West Australian in Perth, whilst Glory actually reaching the final didn’t rate a mention until a few pages in from the back! I was lucky enough to be staying in the same hotel as the players, and on matchday the whole squad seemed to be in a great frame of mind around the breakfast table, fully prepared for what was to come.

So too were the fans – the usual march through the city brought with it the expected shenanigans; the taking over of Brisbane pubs and the amusing sight of a pub guitarist in a Brisbane Roar shirt nervously discovering that he was now playing to a packed balcony of opposition fans. For the most part the Queensland capital was very accommodating to us – though a small minority chose to ruin the fun by throwing coins, full cans of coke, and other projectiles as we marched to the stadium, the average bloke in orange seemed nice enough, if not a little strange. As for those who chose to stand in the middle of the road as we marched, shoulder-barging anyone who walked past, well – can I just hold them up as proof that mindless dickheads are not just limited to the sports of AFL and rugby?

For all the fun of the build-up though, nothing compares to the big game and its aftermath. People who say the finals series doesn’t add anything have clearly never been to a grand final – Suncorp is a fantastic stadium (albeit expensive) and a 50k crowd generates enough of a buzz to have you on a high the whole match; especially when they’re dead silent after the home side concedes. As for the away bay, they sang, cheered, chanted and offered abuse right throughout the game, even after its heartbreaking finale.

And why not? In front of them, the players had defied all expectations to not only withstand wave after wave of orange crush, but also to take the game to Brisbane, even taking the lead. Commanding them throughout was the Marston medal-winning Jacob Burns, a player who I had previously questioned in his second year with the club, and who has responded magnificently this season with what could only be described as a true “captain’s knock”. People want to see Messi and Ronaldo-like skill in the middle of the park these days, but on big occasions like Sunday, you want someone who can patrol and dominate swathes of the pitch, taking the game to the opposition.

Then there were the outstanding saves of Glory keeper Danny Vukovic, who kept his team in the game on more than one occasion; often single-handedly averting goals with lightning reflexes and an aerial presence that AFL players would be proud of. Spare a thought also for Shane Smeltz, who may never look the same after 50 stiches were required to fix a gash on his face and reattach a piece of his nose after he copped an elbow to the face from Matt Smith. Did this keep him off the field for long? Not likely. He returned sporting a bloodied bandage wrapped all around his head and continued to fight to create opportunities for his side up front. Imagine my displeasure the next morning then when NRL and AFL panelists on Fox Sports News spoke of how Australians had difficulty connecting with the sport of soccer given how ‘soft’ it was, highlighting the case of Berisha’s tumble in the box. Soft? I think the only soft thing about Smeltzy was the bloodied mass of facial tissue that his plastic surgeon had to rearrange that night.

These are but three examples from an entire team of players who put in an incredible shift for their club on Sunday. When they came back to Tin Billy’s for the after party, the reception they received was one usually reserved for World Cup winners – and rightly so. Even Ian Ferguson, whose ability many questioned throughout the year – including myself – was the recipient of rapturous applause upon entry. The players seemed to appreciate the pick-me-up, too; and let’s face it, who can’t help but party when a diminutive Brazilian winger starts off a chant with a few lines of “Let’s go f’ing mental” in his Portuguese-laced English?

After a result that was so hard to take, the ability to mingle with guys like Bas, Stevie, Scotty Neville and the like was just the tonic needed to ensure a great night was had by all. Whether you elected to sleep in a carpark with a traffic cone as a pillow because your roommates had your keys, or you woke up in bed with several half-eaten sausage rolls and a ‘Men at work’ sign, just because you’ve been cruelly denied victory, it doesn’t mean you can’t have a good night out.

In a way, the most pleasing aspect of it all has been the restoration of the Glory name. Sure, we didn’t win the championship – but there will be plenty of time for that in future, no matter what the name or style of Australia’s top league is. What was more important was that in an age where newsdesk drama seems more important to the game than the football itself, we’ve finally got a team together that understands the need to play for the purple shirt and its history – not just the paycheque. Despite looking dead and buried halfway through the year, ready for yet another decline, Perth have managed to shake their A-League hoodoos this year and confirm themselves as a valuable part of any national competition.

Thanks to Brisbane for entertaining us; thanks to the Glory Army who travelled to fill the away bays; and thanks to the team who fought every step of the way, and who were gracious in the face of both defeat and disgrace. It isn’t always easy being purple – but this weekend you showed why we’re still damn proud to be.