June 18 2009
Crystal Palace host Plymouth on the opening day of the new season and the omens look good for a winning start.
The Eagles have have a surprisingly decent record in recent years, winning five out of their last eight curtain raisers.
Since victory over Rotherham in 2001, Palace have secured first day triumphs over Preston (2002), Burnley (2003), Ipswich (2006) and Southampton (2007).
Dougie Freedman notched a hat-trick in that Burnley 3-2 away win and James Scowcroft also bagged three in the 4-1 win at Southampton - a year after scoring on his debut against Ipswich for the 2-1 success.
Palace were defeated by Luton in 2005, drew at Norwich in the Premier League the year before, while last season Watford came away from Selhurst Park with a point.
However, the last time Palace won a home game opener was the 4-3 triumph against Barnsley in 1995. Surely time to change that in two months' time.
Memorable games include the 2-1 Premier League win at Everton in 1997 which saw Attillio Lombardo score on his debut and the exciting 3-3 home draw with Blackburn on the first day of the inaugural Premier League season in 1992. Simon Osborn hit a last minute equaliser after an Alan Shearer-inspired Rovers looked certain for three points.
Paul Hinshelwood scored Palace's fastest-ever opening day goal when he netted from the spot shortly after Palace were awarded a penalty with just 55 seconds gone at home to Cambridge United in 1981.
The 9-2 victory over Accrington Stanley in 1960 remains the club's best-ever result on day one of a new season. Johnny Byrne and Alan Woan each got a hat-trick with Ron Heckman netting a brace. The heaviest defeat was the 6-1 thumping by Liverpool in 1994 at Selhurst Park.
Palace were victorious on the first game of the promotion years of 2003 (Burnley), 1976 (York), 1968 (Cardiff) and 1960 (Accrington Stanley).
They lost to Birmingham (1996), Coventry (1963), Merthyr Town (1920) and Southampton Reserves (1905) but still clinched promotion.
First day draws against Tranmere (1993), Chelsea (1989) and Blackburn Rovers (1978) were also enough to seal a place in the next league.
Although history tells us success in the first match counts for little over the course of a season, Palace fans will still be desperate for a glorious start against Plymouth on August 8. Bring it on!
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