Main Menu
What's New
Famous victories:

Football League Division One, 8/5/94
Crystal Palace 0(0)
Watford 2(0)
Eating all the jelly
Report by Nick Catley

Great matches? There are a few things that can make them. A tense relegation decider? Possibly. Exciting matches with loads of lead changes? Undoubtedly. A great comeback from a hopeless position? Certainly. A downright thrashing? Usually.

The 1993/94 season had all these, against Peterborough, Peterborough, Bolton and Birmingham respectively. But somehow, a match I'll always remember alongside these is a 2-0 win on the last day of the season between teams who had nothing to play for.

Why? A few reasons. Perhaps the main reason one was - is - the unbelievable arrogance of every Crystal Palace fan I have ever met. This isn't to say that they're arrogant people - but every single one I know honestly believes that they are a big club, whose natural home is the Premiership. Despite their regular relegations, this is an attitude that seems to persist, and it was fully present that day. Of course, this was kind of understandable - they had just won the league, after all - but the general attitude that they were about to crush us - a side not worthy of sharing a pitch - was unmistakable.

When this was added to the relative numbers of fans - we'd sold all our tickets, but that meant about 2,000 among a capacity 28,000 crowd, there to see off the old Holmesdale Road Terrace, which was being demolished after the game.

So - Palace were having a party. They'd won the league, it was the last day on the terrace - it was a day out in the sun. The Shining Path of Selhurst Park Righteousness would surely overcome whichever mere mortals the fixture computer had deemed worthy to have goals scored against them on this Day of Days in the Kingdom of all Good Things.

The cameras were there - lordy, everyone in the South East would be able to see this most lovable of teams say goodbye to their wickedly imposed low station.

In short, the majority of people at the match, including the TV commentators, were hardly aware that Watford were playing.

This led to a bit of a "Right, we'll show the bastards" mentality in the Watford corner. After all, we had something to celebrate as well - we`d escaped relegation only the previous week. The result was the most consistent ninety minute singing performance I have ever heard providing a wonderful antidote to the relentless Eagle love-in going on elsewhere. In fact, on this biggest of party days, we hardly heard a peep out of the Palace fans. Anyone with a tape of the game will know just how loud we were.

But that wasn't all. Being a bit of a pessimist, I was convinced that, whilst we deserved to win with support like this, we probably wouldn't, as Palace might just be a better side. After all, they had finished top of the league and everything, while we...well, you remember the season.

But no. This was not to be a Heroic Defeat, but instead an Up Your Arse Victory. As Andy Hessenthaler stroked a perfectly placed shot past a flailing Nigel Martyn from just outside the box, we went absolutely wild in a way that, if memory serves, was only beaten by the wilder excesses of Peterborough. The thought of 26,000 glum, possibly painted, faces, only spurred us on, before the first ever chorus of "1-0 to the Golden Boys" burst into life. A late goal by the even then folk hero Mooney, made even better by its bizarreness (bouncing into the ground and over the committed keeper) just added to the overall celebratory air.

In the end, we'd nicked their party. Rather than being the kids nobody liked who didn`t get invited for being too fat, as so often seems the case, we were the bullies who nobody liked because we'd gatecrashed, eaten all the jelly, spilt the lemonade all over the floor and nicked the prize from Pass the Parcel. It felt good (I've never wanted to ask too many questions about what this says about me).

Of course, we've been back - disastrously, without exception. One last minute of extra time Cup exit, a thrashing which turned out to be Roeder's last game, and another cup defeat by Wimbledon. But, somehow, these have only conspired to make me further hate the place, and thus revel even more in the end-of-season pain inflicted on its inhabitants in May 1994.