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May 26 2016 5.40am

Learn the lesson...

May 18 2004

Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace

Rubbing his eyes in disbelief, Jamesey looks ahead to a play-off final and then?

After an agonisingly thrilling victory against Sunderland last night (May 17), CPFC takes us to our third play-off final in eight years. As I write, we don't know who our opponents will be (West Ham or Ipswich?).

It will certainly be a more pleasant day out in Cardiff if Ipswich get through, judging by the general attitude and behaviour of Hammers supporters at Selhurst recently.

I still can't believe I was writing about the R word (relegation) a few short months ago and now we are one victory away from the Premiership.

I was at Wembley for both play-off finals in 96 and 97 and you couldn't have had two more contrasting events.

A sickening miskick in extra time by Steve Claridge gave the first final to Leicester but David Hopkin's last-minute screamer gained the spoils against Sheff U the following year. Everyone remembers that one!

The 97-98 season was a time of political uncertainty at Selhurst with the emerging Mark Goldberg jousting with the then-chairman Ron Noades to take over the reins. Eventually he did and we have only just got over his dreadful legacy of impoverishment and failure.

If the unthinkable and unimaginable happens (I am trying not to tempt fate here) and we win this year's final let us please learn a few lessons from our last experience in the top league.

* Don't buy another Ishmael for over 2m who can't defend against high crosses.

* Don't buy another Curcic, A strange Serbian mixture of genius and buffoon, more often the latter.

* Don't buy another Padovano, just because he's an Italian.

* Don't bring in any big names on their way out like the Swede Brolin.

* Don't let any Israelis called Zohar take penalties.

Well, that will do for starters. And I think that we can say with some confidence that with Simon Jordan at the helm the future could look a lot more sensible.

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In Depth Palace in the Play-offs 2004

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