Tonch's time to shine
His nickname 'Tonch' may mean 'Mini Anthony' but Perth Glory striker Anthony Skorich is grown up and ready to let his football do the talking after an injury-interrupted last few seasons.
His nickname 'Tonch' may mean 'Mini Anthony' but Perth Glory striker Anthony Skorich is all grown up and ready to let his football do the talking after an injury-interrupted last few seasons.
Picked out of the Western Australian Premier League by former Glory coach Dave Mitchell during the 2007-08 season, the laidback 20-year-old has done every job possible over the past three seasons at the club, from carrying drinks up to the media in the stands at nib Stadium to scoring goals out on the pitch.
Having earned a position starting off the bench over the last few games, Skorich was finally rewarded for his persistence with his first start for season 2010-11 in last week's 2-1 loss to the Fury.
It was also Skorich's bravery, which helped set up Perth's only goal, the young striker showing no regard for life and limb as he took on two North Queensland tackles before cutting the ball back for an unmarked Michael Baird to slam home.
But those just seeing Skorich for the first time last Friday night, would hardly know the injury setbacks the youngster has gone through at such an early age. Having made four appearances late in the 2008-09 season, Skorich appeared set to continue his development the following year before a serious ankle injury intervened.
"The last two seasons have gone a bit off the rails with injuries," Skorich admitted.
"I've had two operations on my ankle, full reconstruction and I've also got a piece of floating bone."
"(The floating bone is) in the back of my ankle, in my Achilles tendon. When you put pressure on your foot, I think the bone rubs against the tendon or rubs against something and creates this pain right up your leg. It's a sharp pain always up your heel and up your leg, so it wasn't pleasant that's for sure."
"That's been giving me trouble for the last five years I've been playing on it."
"In state league you've got physios that don't usually know much, they're usually students, so to come here and to fix it up, it's taken me a while to get it right."
"It's been a long process ... three years and I'm finally starting to consistently be in the team even on the bench or starting. So I just want to continue what I'm doing and hopefully get some more game time."
Having just taken over the Glory from Ron Smith during the 2007-08 season, former coach Mitchell was forced to scout for local talent in a bid to help his side move up the table.
Although Perth has since gone on to recruit big names like Mile Sterjovski, Jacob Burns and, of course, Robbie Fowler, three years ago the footballing landscape was very different as the National Youth League did not exist and scouting the local leagues for talent was an important element of the coach's role.
A keen developer of young talent during his NSL coaching days, Mitchell saw something in a 17-year-old Skorich, though, and promptly signed him up.
"He (Mitchell) came and watched a few state league games and a night series game and after the game he asked me to come down to training," Skorich explained.
"I went to Croatia for a bit, for about two months," he added saying he was training over there when he decided to return to Perth.
"It was harder over there with the language barriers. I knew a little bit but not the full language and I just thought it would be better here to play in front of my family, my home town, establish myself a little and then maybe go over there later on."
"I came back and Mitch signed me up for a one-year youth deal, two-year pro deal.
Having been picked out of the crowd by Mitchell, Skorich said it was a sad learning experience seeing him step aside last week to take on a football director's role at the club after four consecutive losses.
"It was hard you know," Skorich said. "He brought me in three years ago now. I've been working under him. Even when I was playing in the state league, I haven't been used to much change you know. Coaches have stayed there the whole time, so it's a bit different now."
"But it's football, you've got to continue what you're doing, put in that training, put in when you play and you'll be all right," he said.