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September 17 2021 4.08am

Simon Rodger

March 6 2007

Simon Rodger

Simon Rodger

Gordon Law pays tribute to midfield ace Simon "Jolly" Rodger.

If you cut Simon Rodger open, he would probably bleed red and blue, such was his loyalty and commitment to Crystal Palace.

The Shoreham-born man was signed by Alan Smith as an apprentice from non-league Bognor Regis Town in 1990 for a mere £1,000.

He went on to make 329 appearances - seventh in Palace's all-time list - and scored 12 goals over a 12-year spell with the Eagles.

Steve Coppell handed Jolly his debut in 1993 in the 4-1 defeat at Sheffield Wednesday and he helped Palace secure the Division One title in 1994.

His workrate, professionalism and un-sung, gritty, performances in the midfield engine room contributed to Palace's success in the 1990s. He was never one of the club's high earners and missed out on lucrative signing-on fees to stay in SE25.

Jolly was the type of player who put in the vital interceptions and tracked back which often went un-noticed to many and his fine left-foot delivered pin-point corners or sweet free-kicks.

Dave Bassett fell out with the former Brighton trainee and loaned him out to Man City for three months in 1996 and Stoke for a month in 1997. Rodger admits it was a low point in his career.

When Coppell returned to Selhurst Park shortly after, Rodger played his part in winning promotion and came off the bench in the 1997 play-off win over Sheffield United.

Rodger stuck by the Eagles during the club's administration period and was made skipper. Unfortunately, wretched injury problems hampered his career, but that was probably down to his commited style of play.

Rodger, aged 31, was released by Trevor Francis in 2002 and brought the curtain down on a brilliant spell with Palace with a testimonial against Tottenham in front of more than 13,000 fans.

In Depth Jolly Tribute

Palace Hero: Jolly Rodger

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