June 10 2011
Jamesey always used to look forward to the pre-season friendlies but finds little to appeal this year.
It used to be always a pleasure after a football-free summer to have a few interesting pre-season games to watch.
This year all the senior squad fixtures, with the exception of Norwich on a Tuesday, are away and even two appealing fixtures at Bromley and Dulwich Hamlet are also on weekday evenings.
Even at the best of times, evening matches have no appeal for me so for the first time since I can remember I will not be seeing any Palace football until the season kicks off on August 6.
Last July, in a game presumably set up by our by-then ex-owner, the big guns arrived at Selhurst. The district was awash with blue when Chelsea came to town and Carlo Ancellotti included some of his biggest names in the squad, including Cech, Essien and Alex.
The game was a sell-out and must have been a nice earner for our new owners although the result went against the Eagles by one goal.
Another memorable friendly was covered in one of the first columns I wrote for this website in 2002. It was a stinking hot July Saturday when we played Carshalton Athletic at their ground.
Trevor Francis was our manager and, for the first time, I watched a promising young Academy kid called Wayne Routledge. He was so small at that time that the tiniest pair of shorts that could be found for him practically touched his ankes and in my ignorance I mistook hime for a mascot. Unlike many young prospects he went on to fulfil his early promise and will probably be showing his skills for Queens Park Rangers in the Stacksocash league next season.
The following year we played host to another big-time European club, PSV Eindhoven. We lost the match 0-1 but it was gratifying to see such a high-profile club performing at Selhurst.
In 2004, another Euro giant Sporting Lisbon came to Selhurst but I objected to the high price of the tickets and gave it a miss. I did, however, make the trip to Loftus Road where in blistering heat wave conditions we were well and truly stuffed 3-0 by the Rs, newly promoted from the third tier.
In more recent times, a visit to Sutton Utd was a real pleasure. I had worked in Sutton in the media "erection" next to the rail station for 20 years but had never visited the Borough Sports Ground.
As one who started watching football in the 1950s, it was a lovely, nostalgic feeling to be inside a small, old ground where you could move about and rest against a railing during the game. That for me, was always a bonus in our visits to other lower league clubs like Bromley, Carshalton and Whyteleafe.
Anyhow this year it will be no nostalgia and no big name visits and let's hope the FA computer gives us a nice home game to kick off the season.
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