From ‘crisis’ comes opportunity for Glory young gun unleashed by ‘surprise’ Stajcic initiative

Here is everything you need to know heading into Perth Glory's home clash with Central Coast in Round 3 of the Isuzu UTE A-League

It was only fitting that Perth Glory’s academy boss was stood in the technical area as the club’s interim head coach when 17-year-old Daniel Bennie scored against West Ham.

The teenager’s first Glory goal came in his first senior appearance for the club – an off-season friendly against the Premier League side at Optus Stadium in July.

At the time, the club was without a permanent head coach and owner, with no clear path laid ahead.

Kenny Lowe was tasked with steering the ship through the storm; Glory faced the Hammers on July 14, just four days out from an Australia Cup playoff against Macarthur FC in Darwin. In the middle of the Isuzu UTE A-League off-season, Lowe stepped up from his role in charge of the club’s academy, and brought a swathe of the club’s top teenage talents along for the right.

Lowe blooded nine teenagers in a 6-2 loss against West Ham – but Bennie stood head and shoulders above the rest.


Four months on, the club have found their new coach as well as new owners – and Bennie’s starting games for the senior side in the Isuzu UTE A-League.

Alen Stajcic is the new man in charge, who Lowe credits for trusting the likes of Bennie to step up from the club’s academy to make their mark in the first team.

“(Stajcic) was superb,” Lowe told “When he arrived he got all the academy staff in for a meeting. He said: ‘This is what we’re going to do in our area, this is how we’re going to play, but I just want your feedback and thoughts’. He didn’t ask just me, but everybody in the academy space, from the U18’s to U20’s and U23’s.

“It was like: ‘Wow, this is brilliant’. It engaged everybody. He embraced everybody and looked for feedback, and that was excellent.

“Off the back of that a few players began to get integrated into first-team training. We saw a few boys in the West Ham game were okay, and they’re involved now. He was really happy that there is a good group of young players at the club.

“It’s a testament to him. He wants to embrace a whole-club mentality. How much he wants to make sure the whole club is tied together, with everyone pulling in one direction. That’s really positive for everybody involved.

“Also passing down his philosophy on playing to our U23 team and U20 team, so when players are coming through they understand how the team wants to play, and they’re not in an uncomfortable environment.”

Lowe has relished watching Bennie begin the new season as a starter under Stajcic; his goal against West Ham wrote headlines – but perhaps even more impressive was the 17-year-old’s stellar performance for the Joeys at the U17 Asian Cup in June.

Stajcic, like Lowe against West Ham, has felt comfortable throwing Bennie in at the deep end.

“You think: ‘Okay, I’m just going to throw him in, put a pair of floaties on and see how he goes’,” said Lowe.

“Some survive, some go in without floaties and survive… it’s good to see them embrace the challenge… it’s hard until you go into that environment, you can’t predict it.”

“I first saw (Bennie) when I went into NPL coaching,” reflects Lowe. “He was at a club called ECU Joondalup (now Perth RedStar), I had just gone in, I was only there for a few months at the end of the season, and he was one of the younger players at that club that we tried to keep. He jumped ship to Perth Glory. We tried to talk him around to staying, but obviously a professional club over an NPL club is a good choice. 

“You could see even then he had a potential and a drive to test himself. But he’s humble, he’s balanced, his feet are on the ground, he’s from a good family. He’s got some good attributes, but it’s potential. There’s still a long, long way to go.

“I look back at the boys who have come through the club in my time (like) Danny De Silva and Jacob Italiano… he’s definitely got the quality to do that.

“The driver is himself. At the end of the day, coaches don’t make players, players make players. We’re just conduits to facilitate dreams.

“He’s still got to understand what everyone wants of him and what he needs to do to live that dream.”

Bennie’s next opportunity to feature for the Glory first team comes in Round 3 of the 2023-24 season against Central Coast Mariners at HBF Park. As of now, Bennie is the shining example of Stajcic’s preparedness to give young players a chance this season – but Lowe is certain more will follow before the season’s end.

Just months ago the club were in receivership with an interim head coach at the helm. But after the recruitment of Stajcic, and the sale of the club to a Melbourne property consortium led by Primeland, everything looks and feels a lot more settled at the club as the A-Leagues season click into gear.

Lowe looks back on the West Ham tour fondly thanks to the youth-centric approach it demanded.

“Sometimes you get opportunites at clubs when there’s a crisis,” he said.

“Maybe if there was no crisis and a full squad, we may not have seen some of the boys come through and get opportunities.

“In a way, at that moment you think it’s a black time and a tough period – and it is – but off the back of that there’s some silver linings.

“I think the opportunities for young players eventuated through that. But saying that, it’s one thing getting an opportunity – you’ve got to grasp it, grab all of it and run with it.”


Perth Glory v Central Coast Mariners
Saturday, November 4 2023
HBF Park
Kick-off: 9:45pm (AEDT)
Broadcast: Paramount+