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Crystal Palace Football Club: Behind The Club

In this series, we profile one Premier League team each week, looking at some of the History, Records and Trivia associated with each club. This week we profile Crystal Palace FC. Join us on a journey from 1905 to 2017 as we go, Behind the Club.

Formed in 1905, Crystal Palace FC was formed in South London. Owned by Sydney Bourne, they were to play their home matches in the FA Cup Final venue of the time, located inside the grounds of the historic building known as The Crystal Palace, next to Sydenham Hill.

In their early days they played in Claret and Blue and applied to join the Second Division of The Football League, but lost out to Chelsea. Instead they joined the Southern League Second Division, instantly won promotion to the First Division, where they remained until 1920.

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The Football League invited the entire Southern League to join as associate members in 1920, forming a new Third Division. Palace won the Third Division at the first time of asking, and rose to the second tier.

They survived initially, and bought nearby land in 1922. This land later became Selhurst Park, which opened in 1924.

The new ground was to prove a curse however, with Palace relegated that season, and not enjoying a promotion from the third tier for almost 40 years, despite finishing as runners-up on three occasions.

Following the Second World War, Crystal Palace endured their darkest days. While they fluttered between a Claret and Blue and Black and White home strip, they finished bottom of the Football League twice, surviving only by successfully applying for re-election.

Their form did not improve after the Football League introduced a new Fourth Tier below them, and they dropped into it for its first season in 1958/59.

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By this point Arthur Wait had taken over as Chairman and fortuned gradually began to turn. Seventh and Eighth place finishes followed, before promotion was secured in 60/61 as they finished second.

They quickly established themselves in the Third Division despite the loss of standout striker Johnny Byrne to West Ham, and they were promoted again in 1964.

During their time in the third tier, Palace celebrated the opening of their new floodlights by playing an exhibition match against Galacticos Real Madrid, led by two-time Ballon D’or winner Alfredo Di Stefano. Madrid ran out 4-3 winners.

Their upturn in fortune did not end in 1964. Before the end of the decade another promotion was achieved, sending Palace to the First Division for the first time in their history.

Three seasons of survival were ultimately ended by relegation in 72/73 and despite optimism, they began the league awfully; failing to win any of their first fifteen league games, before they were relegated for the second successive season.

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It was around this time that Palace adopted their current club colours of red and blue, while they also redesigned their club badge and became known as the Eagles.

Promotion was not to come for three seasons, Terry Venables eventually guiding them back to the Second Division in his first season at Selhurst Park, following their near miss and run to the FA Cup semi-finals the season before.

Venables continued to work wonders as he led the Eagles to the Second Division Championship in 78/79.

A thirteenth place finish followed, but following a dreadful start to 80/81, Venables left for QPR and the Eagles were relegated convincingly.

As they endured life back in the Second Division, new owner Ron Noades appointed a 29 year old Steve Coppell as manager in 1984, after his playing career had been cut short by injury.

Coppell proved to be a revelation, stabilising the club in the Second Division. They quickly became promotion contenders and just missed out on the play offs for his first two seasons before they won the play-offs in 1989, beating Blackburn Rovers in the final.

Instrumental in the clubs turnaround were two of Coppell’s signings, an unknown Ian Wright from Greenwich Borough of non-league and Mark Bright from Leicester City. The pair formed a formidable “Wrighty and Brighty” strike partnership that would last until 1992.

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Crystal Palace remained in the First Division until then, finishing third in 1991 and losing the FA Cup Final in 1990. They were then involved in a breakaway group which became the Premier League in the summer of 92.

They failed to survive the first Premier League Season after losing both Wright and Bright, following racially controversial comments in the media by Noades. Coppell left and was replaced by Alan Smith.

Smith inspired an immediate return to the Premier League as clear Champions of the second tier and controversy lingered at Selhurst Park in the following season, Eric Cantona doing THAT kick to Palace fan Matthew Simmons, earning the Frenchman a two week jail term and nine month ban from all footballing activity.

Relegation again followed after the league was cut from 22 to 20 teams and Smith left. Dave Bassett took over and spearheaded a failed play-off bid the following season, before leaving for Nottingham Forest.

Coppell returned again and they won the play-offs the following season, beating Sheffield United at the old Wembley. Immediate relegation followed once again however, but Palace were to enjoy their first taste of European football in the Intertoto Cup.

They struggled to settle in the second tier and were placed in administration in 98/99, and managed to stay up the following season only thanks to an 87th minute goal away at Stockport on the last day of the season.

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Steve Bruce and Trevor Francis came and went, before Iain Dowie commanded yet another return to the Premier League in 2004. Despite Andrew Johnsons 21 league goals, immediate relegation followed again and financial troubles began again, though Palace continued to prove menacing opposition, reaching the play offs more often than not in the years that followed.

But Palace entered administration again in 2010, surviving on the last day of the season, before their form improved in a remarkable turnaround.

The Eagles began to rise up the table under George Burley and Dougie Freedman, enjoying good cup runs as they built. Ian Holloway took charge midway through 12/13 and they reached the play-offs once again, triumphing over Watford after an extra time penalty from Kevin Phillips.

Palace remain in the Premier League to this day, having gone through established managers Tony Pulis and Sam Allardyce up to now. Difficult times lie ahead though, with the Eagles currently bottom of the Premier League, having only scored in one game thus far.

Records and Trivia:

Crystal Palace have been relegated from the Premier League four times, no side has been relegated more since 1992.

Palace’s record signing is Belgian striker Christian Benteke. The Eagles shelled out an initial £27 million to Liverpool in the summer of 2016 to acquire the big frontman’s services.

The player with the most appearances for Palace is former Defender Jim Cannon, who made 663 appearances for the Eagles between 1971 and 1988.

Crystal Palace currently lie 26th in the all-time Premier League table, lodged between Norwich City and Wigan Athletic.

Best Performances:

Football League: Third Place (Division One), 1990/91

FA Cup: Runners-up (2), 1989/90, 20015/16

Football League Cup: Semi-finals, 2011/12

Champions League/European Competition: Round Three (Intertoto Cup), 1998

Written by Sam Hanys.


Sam Hanys

A miserable Ipswich Town fan.

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