Choose Life, Don’t Choose Crystal Palace

Ollie Irish

8th, March 2010


By Ed Barrett

For Crystal Palace supporters of my age, manager Neil Warnock’s departure to Queen’s Park Rangers brought back unhappy memories of Terry Venables’ sudden departure to the same club 30 years ago. In 1980, he took half the team with him to West London, and the Eagles were destined for a decade of financial chaos. In 1999 the nightmare returned, as TV’s second spell ended with another swift exit and the club in administration. Now, as history repeats itself yet again, it makes me wonder whether the game is worth the candle.

When Portsmouth FC was on the brink of winding up recently, it was criticised for winning the FA Cup at the expense of the club’s future. But with Palace on the verge of collapse, I find myself in sympathy with those who put glory before financial prudence. Better that than the double-whammy of failure on the pitch and financial ruin off it.


When I started supporting Palace it was a new breed of club. No history of success, but with good support and the chance to recruit more from a huge, modern catchment area. This myth of a golden future persisted stubbornly through a series of false dawns roughly one a decade in which the club would reach the top division and implode. Meanwhile, the big clubs mopped up local support and left Palace with its long-suffering, hardcore fans.

As a kid, I awaited the day when we would win the league and even who knows? the European Cup itself. I was a glory hunter, of course, but I was prepared to put up with whatever it took, and I didn’t complain when we spent most of the seventies and eighties outside the top tier. I looked forward to a lifetime’s journey with the club with plenty of rewards along the way. I always hoped it would come good in the end, and I knew that it would be all the sweeter for the suffering.

Back in 1969, these expectations weren’t particularly far-fetched. Palace had just been promoted to Division One for the first time,
along with Derby, who would win two championships in the next six seasons, and were denied the European Cup by a combination of corruption and bad luck. Shortly afterwards, Nottingham Forest won promotion, then the league, then two successive European Cups all in the space of four years. No one expected clubs of this size to do it forever, but most fans would settle for a single triumph in

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  1. gamblino says:

    But it doesn’t have to be about the silverware. Just needs to be broken down to those individual days make it all worthwhile – Derby wins, proper cup upsets, promotion, relegation 6 pointers. The more miserable it is in between those moments, the more we can appreciate them! ;-)
    Besides, the premier league as a 20 team competition is a fucking joke. One day it’ll implode, all the plastic mancs and chelsea fans will stay at home, and us real fans can have the league back.

  2. Walshy02 says:

    Nice to read the real thoughts of someone who is being affected by one of the many clubs who have fallen into this position. Especially someone who is literate.

    A lot of the points made here are true and it seems the Premiership is now becoming a victim of its own success. Why would a young lad from Croydon follow The Eagles when the world’s stars are playing on a pitch less than a few miles away?

    It’s the struggle to keep up with these clubs that proves the downfall for many, yet there is also the issue that the biggest clubs in the country seem to have the biggest debts as they continually break the bank to attract players with the ability to gain European success.

    I’m sure if you would ask the average fan whether they would like to see their team survive with what they have or continually break the bank at the risk of administration, they would choose the first option.

    I really hope Palace survive and go on to greater things.

  3. […] his now-endangered, ever-mediocre club…and then looks at Portsmouth in envy: “I have had enough lower-league authenticity to last a lifetime…I would have settled for winning the FA Cup Final in 1990 and having the club metaphorically […]

  4. Stephen says:

    But I cant change clubs – I am stuck with the Eagles for as long as they survive.

    If they dont survive, I have already decided to give up football. I could never support another club.

  5. jim says:

    What miserable negativity! Win or lose, aren’t we Palace fans supposed to be glad all over? Under Paul Hart & Co, a golden age beckons. Believe!

  6. Jim P says:

    I started following Palace in the old fourth division, so in some ways this so called permanent ” failure ” is actually success as we are two divisions higher than when I started. If I discount the 1991 Zenith Data triumph, I am still waiting for our first true moment of so called glory but support for teams like Palace is all about a blind, almost tribal, commitment to the cause. In a funny way, a ( hopefully successful ) relegation dog fight is so much better than mid table obscurity. If disaster happens, we can console ourselves with some decent derbies against the hated Seagulls, Charlton, Millwall etc plus the consolation of a few new away grounds like the MK Dons.It’s like family, once allocated of course they are subject to frequent criticism but we are stuck with each other through thick and thin, albeit in Palace’s case, thin and paper thin would be a more accurate epithet. For all non premier supporters out there, keep the faith….

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