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Around the Grounds: Selhurst Park

Opened : 1924

Capacity : 26,125

Other Names: N/A

Cheapest Season Ticket Price: £480

Pie: £4.00

Selhurst Park is perhaps one of the most ‘old school’ stadiums you can currently visit in the Premier League. With its four squared stands at close proximity to the pitch, many say the Crystal Palace fans can create the best atmosphere to be had in the Premier League at the moment.

Whilst the stadium has never been the biggest (its current capacity just exceeds 26,000), it is massively renowned for the level of noise it creates. According to football analysts at FEBallegiance, Crystal Palace’s fans place 5th in terms of most noise, hitting 81 decibels on average per match. The metallic stands only serve to ramp up the atmosphere at this famous Premier League ground and many top clubs have fallen victim to Crystal Palace’s 12th man.

As with most of the London-based stadiums featured in this series, the site of Selhurst Park used to be owned by a rail company, more specifically the London, Brighton and Southcoast Railway Company. Crystal Palace Football Club had identified this old brickfield site owned by the rail company for their new stadium in 1919, but it wasn’t until 1922 that they were able to purchase the land for a measly £2570. By current standards though, that price would be £144,826. They commissioned Archibald Leitch as architect, a man who was heavily involved in the construction of many of British football’s most iconic stadiums.

The original construction of Selhurst Park only took 2 years to be ‘completed’; as a matter of fact only one stand was built and even that wasn’t finished due to industrial action taken by the workers during construction. This eventually led to the ground being formally opened for football in the 1924/25 season and Sheffield Wednesday were the first were the first league visitors in which Wednesday won 1-0.

Selhurst Park in itself has never been the most spectacular or eye catching stadium but it has certainly hosted its fair share of special events. In 1948, the South-East London stadium hosted two Olympic matches. The first was a fixture between Denmark and Egypt in which the Danes came out on top 3-1 and in the second match, Sweden scored 12 with no reply against Korea in what can only be described as a one-sided score line.

Selhurst Park also had the honour of being the first London club to host Real Madrid in a match in 1953 when Palace were in the third division. The Galacticos were invited/ paid by the Palace chairman to partake in a friendly match to basically celebrate the installation of new floodlights. The greats of Di Stefano and Puskas both graces the hallowed Selhurst turf that day with Real Madrid running out 4-3 winners with 24,740 watching from the stands.

Crystal Palace have not had many grand occasions in terms of winning Premier Leagues or European trophies whilst they’ve been at Selhurst Park. In fact, the club has spent much of its time in the second and third divisions of English football. However, one of the best atmosphere’s at the ground must have been created in 1979, when the Eagles beat Burnley 2-0 with 51,000 in attendance to secure the Second Division title and promotion to the First Division.

The location of Selhurst Park has also made it a popular ground for clubs who may have temporarily been without their own stadium. The first to groundshare with Crystal Palace was another historic Premier League team in Charlton Athletic who played at Selhurst Park from 1985 until 1991 at which point Wimbledon FC replaced them. The Dons’ ground at the time fell short of FA requirements following the Hillsborough disaster and its board members didn’t see the plans to develop their Plough Lane home as viable, which eventually led to their moving to Selhurst Park.

There is certainly promise for the future of Selhurst Park as well with the club deciding to develop the current stadium instead of upping sticks and building a new one. As recently as November 2018 the Crystal Palace co-chairman Steve Parish promised redevelopment of the ground would start imminently following a few years of planning. The estimated cost could potentially hit £100m but will see the capacity increase by 6,000 to 34,000. The Main Stand will be massively modernised with a glass façade being constructed reminiscent of the famous Crystal Palace itself.

Palace have been a solid Premier League team for a few years now and under the stewardship of Roy Hodgson they don’t look like going down any time soon. Perhaps an expansion to the stadium will push them to the next level in terms of Premier League finishes.

Dan Stokes

22-year-old Modern Languages Graduate and Arsenal fan from the University of Southampton.

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