After such a promising start to her first W-League season with Perth Glory, English-born striker Gemma Craine (pictured above by Tom McCarthy) suffered a season-ending injury in her first home game for the club. This week, the club announced that they had re-signed her for the 2021/22 W-League campaign. As well as detailing the whole story, Ben Gilby spoke EXCLUSIVELY to Gemma about the announcement and hears about the Western Australian club’s acquisition of exciting Young Matildas star Susan Phonsongkham from Western Sydney Wanderers.
Perth Glory have confirmed that exciting forward Gemma Craine has re-signed with the club for the Westfield W-League 2021/22 Season.
The 26-year-old impressed during her first two games in purple last year, only for her maiden W-League campaign to be cruelly ended by a serious hamstring injury sustained against Adelaide United in Round Four.
Speaking exclusively to Impetus editor Ben Gilby, Gemma told him: I’m a player that always gives 100%, I’ll put my body on the line for the team. I know the team comes first and I’ll be whatever the team needs me needs to be. The injury only enhanced my focus.
“Obviously it was tough being out with injury and it was always hard to watch when you just want to be out there helping the team out.
“My rehab has only made me fall in love with the game even more. Injuries can be pretty horrible to go through but they also help to give you perspective and a chance to really appreciate the game and how lucky we are to play it. If I could go back I wouldn’t change a thing.”
Having now made a full recovery, Craine has been playing in the NPLW WA this season for Perth SC and is relishing the prospect of resuming her W-League career later this year.
Perth Glory head coach Alex Epakis, meanwhile, is confident that the former San Diego State University representative has what it takes to make a major impact in 2021/22.
“Gemma playing for Glory next season is something myself and all our Members and fans should be excited about,” he said.
“She showed very clear signs of her ability and attacking threat last year, despite having her season cut very short by injury and I believe she certainly would have played a big part in helping us last season.
“We are now really focused on ensuring she is fit and healthy for the season and I really believe she will come back stronger mentally and physically than she was prior to her injury.
“She is a mature player, a winner and a very hard worker who has the ability to play in multiple positions across the forward line or in midfield and is yet another strong addition to our squad.”
Glory CEO Tony Pignata is equally confident that Craine can help drive the W-League side forward next term.
“Gemma is another exciting addition to a squad that is really taking shape,” he said.
“Alex Epakis is looking to recruit players who combine talent and flair with a willingness to work hard for the team and even during the short time she played for us last season, it was clear to see that Gemma definitely ticked those boxes.”
Meanwhile, the club have also announced the signing of Young Matildas forward Susan Phonsongkham. The 20-year-old arrives having spent the past four seasons with Western Sydney Wanderers for whom she made a total of 19 W-League appearances and scored one goal.
A mobile and versatile forward, Phonsongkham claimed the NPL NSW Golden Boot while playing for Sydney Olympic in 2019 and is now looking to make a similar impact for Glory next season.
“I’m really looking forward to experiencing a new environment and working under Alex Epakis,” she said.
“I like the way he wants the club to be going, it’s definitely heading in the right direction and I really want to be a part of that.”
Epakis, meanwhile, believes that the Thailand-born attacker has the potential to become a real favourite with the Glory faithful.
“Susan playing for Perth Glory next season will be a sight that all our supporters should be really excited about,” he said.
“She is a very good player who has so many technical and positional qualities.
“There are not many players in the country who have Susan’s attacking quality and she will certainly bring another level to our attack.
“I am excited to have the opportunity to coach her and I know that she is coming to Perth Glory to work very hard, improve and help the club achieve its goals.”
Glory CEO Tony Pignata feels that Phonsongkham is another high-quality addition to what is an exciting squad being assembled at the club.
“Alex has secured the services of some of the brightest young talents in the country over the last few weeks,” he said, “and Susan also fits into the category.
“I’m sure she will have an important role to play in what promises to be an exciting W-League campaign for the club in 2021/22.”
Ben Gilby writes for Beyond90, Australia’s leading independent women’s football platform. Visit https://beyond90.com.au/
Impetus’ coverage of Australian Women’s Football is supported by The Chicken Salt Co. They are offering every Impetus reader 5% off all orders of Chicken Salt from their website. Go to https://www.chickensalt.co.uk/?mate=impetus and place your order – 5% will automatically be taken off of the cost. The coupon code is impetus.