I HAD a soft spot for Crystal Palace when I was eight. I quite liked them. To me they had appeared out of nowhere — a magical, mystical club, named after the Wizard of Oz’s house.
I had never heard of them before that season but here they were playing the Reds and being kind enough to let us batter them 9-0. They were sound.
That viewpoint lasted about six months until the FA Cup semi-final at Villa Park. My memories of the game are sketchy to say the least, but I remember getting stuck in traffic on the M6, Dad having murder with a bizzie because they hadn’t delayed the game much (despite half of our end being on the motorway) and finally getting in at half time having ran about three miles.
The Reds were winning, we missed the goal but at least we were winning and then we kick off for the second half and they get the ball and leg it down the other end and score.
We ran three miles to watch some bell-end score straight from the kick off. I didn’t sign up for this, Dad.
Steve Staunton then decides to chest a ball on the line and some other divvy scores, heads burst all over the show, Alan Pardew gets the winner (above) and cements himself in my mind as one of the worst people to ever grace the planet
I hated Palace for not letting us win and I hated them a bit more for not beating Manchester United in the final a few weeks later.
The only positive of any of this was that I had Pardew pegged when I was eight. Boss judge of character, me.
They haven’t done much to improve my opinion since, really, in fact I still hate them to this day.
The fictitious, Wizard of Oz, eagle-loving gobshites.
Everything about them is rubbish. The Crystal Girls are the pits, who does that these days? They had Neil Warnock didn’t they? Andy Johnson, John Salako, that chairman who looked like he was in East 17…all of them designed to do your head in.
They also send a big massive bald eagle to fly around the pitch before kick-off for no reason other than to make themselves feel better. I often wonder about these eagle fellas with the gloves. Where does the eagle go for the rest of the day once it gets off the pitch?
It would be boss if the glove man takes him home and has to live with the eagle on his left hand as a permanent fixture. Hasn’t eaten any meat for six years, the glove man, because every time he serves it up the eagle swoops in and yomps it.
“Sausage butty, love, yes that will be lovely.” “Here you go…” Woomph! The poor eagle man is left with bread, butter and sausage dripping while the eagle is dispatching sausages like there is no tomorrow.
I like to picture him trying to have a shower — eagle hand out of the curtain trying not to get it wet or in bed, trying to read but struggling to turn the pages of his book.
The game yesterday felt like some form of payback for all of the above — a first step on the long road to redemption. It was genuinely brilliant, wasn’t it? What was your favourite bit?
- Match review: Crystal Palace 1 Liverpool 2
- Player ratings: Crystal Palace 1 Liverpool 2
- Five from Fitzgerald: Crystal Palace 1 Liverpool 2
Mine was when Pards took his coat off and lashed it after we scored. The next time the cameras cut to him he had put it back on. My line of questioning after the game would have focused on this as follows:
“Hi Alan, tough result today. Can you talk me through your decision to remove your coat and throw it on the floor?
“At what point did you realise it was too cold to be coatless and you had made a mistake? Or was it that you could not be bothered carrying it so you just put it back on to walk off the pitch?
“Thanks for facing us in such difficult circumstances, Alan.”
The real Pardew interviews after the match are hilarious though.
I reckon he has got such a cob on because his favourite day of the year has been ruined.
You can imagine Pards out in town, chatting to all the mums with one eye on all the daughters.
I hope he is at home with an Eagle trying to eat his tea (it’s a day off for the Eagle man, took his mum out).
Last-minute winners are brilliant in any circumstances and yesterday was no different.
That we were down to 10 men made it seem better, especially given how poor we had been for 70 minutes.
We fought hard in the first half to stay in the match but once they scored the response for 20 minutes or so was abject.
It was the Newcastle/Watford/West Ham prototype — no real fight, no creation, no threat, really poor, not good enough.
Then James Milner acted the faux hard case again with a ridiculous tackle and once he was off the Reds sprung to life. Gifted a goal by their keeper, the response was pretty good and, weirdly, only one side looked like winning.
It’s mad that it took us going down to 10 men to start creating chances. It’s almost as if the players have a mental block in these types of games when the stock formation and line-up isn’t working.
They know how difficult it will be to breakdown a deep opposition and as such, when we concede we look resigned to our fate.
The sending off was a blessing in disguise as it forced us to find different solutions — took us out of a self-imposed comfort zone, removed the easy pass, made us play a bit more in straight lines rather than across the pitch and resulted in us carving out more chances in the last 20 minutes than we had in the previous 70.
Alberto Moreno hit the post, Divock Origi had one, Christian Benteke had a couple. It might be that Palace tired and tried to hang on, it might be a coincidence, but either way we were much better.
It could be worthwhile mixing it up in future for these types of games — two up front perhaps — save someone needing to get sent before we can start playing a different way.
There looked to be only one winner and confidence was soaring until they brought Dwight Gayle on. My heart sank. Never before has a player done absolutely nothing aside from play against us twice a year and look like a superclone of Messi, Ronaldo, Owen and Henry.
Against any other team in the country he plays at his true level — somewhere between me and Sean Dundee. Not sure what the reason is for this.
There are unsubstantiated rumours that Pards keeps him in a Joey Fritzl-style cellar, exposing him to non-stop ear bursting sessions of Pete Price, John Bishop, Billy and Wally’s Hold Yer Plums and old episodes of Blind Date until he foams at the mouth — only to let him out to run amok against the Reds, larruping goals from all over the show.
Either way, he must have had Stockholm Syndrome or something as he didn’t kick it. Happy days, indeed.
Big silent Chris Benteke decided to run in behind their defence for a bit instead of standing still on the penalty spot and won a brilliant penalty. I love a good dive. I love a good bit of cheating and I love someone who does all of the above and then picks himself up and slots the penalty with a minimum of fuss.
Well in, lad. Made up for you, you know. Kick on from here and you might be a hero yet.
The travelling Reds went berserk and Pards lashed his coat. The referee gave it consecutive whistles and we all went home delighted and perplexed in equal measure.
As it was Mothers’ Day I asked my Mum for her thoughts on the game. Her response was quite fitting.
“The Reds were shite — it was great though — I’ll have another glass.”
Is right, Mum, Is right, the Reds.