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Burnley 1979

March 31 2003

Selhurst Park

Selhurst Park

The 1978/9 season was one of the most memorable in Palace's history and most fans will remember it by just one game.


In the words of Max Boyce, I was there!! I stood on the Holmesdale at the back trying to get the best view I could. I was 15 at the time. I don't remember much about the game although I vaguely remember the goals.

The pitch celebrations were amazing. I recall how jam-packed it was on the pitch, yet when you looked around the ground there weren't any spare gaps on the terraces or in the stands.

I remember reading The Sun in Biology lesson at Purley Boys (usual practice) on the day of the game. The Burnley chairman at the time, Bob Lord I think, said they would turn Palace over because he would rather see Sunderland in the 1st Division than Palace. Git!

Ian Walsh summarises on all the Welsh games on BBC here in sunny Cymru and I always think of 1979 when I hear him.


My old man was there and I was born roughly nine months later! A good night for him, Palace win, big crowd and a drunken jump with my mum!


I remember on the way in saying to my mate Gordon that this crowd was huge because I'd been to all the 49-50,000 games from the early 70s.

We forced our way to the middle of the Holmesdale and we were extremely grateful for an empty beer can to pee in(I'm not sure the bloke whose legs it rolled into was though).The atmosphere was incredible.

After the game I met my mate Ken who worked for the South London Press at the time and he told me that Mike Hurst, secretary at the time, told him they lost radio contact with the turnstiles at the Holmesdale and the crowd was nearly 61,000 but they dare not declare it or the police would go crazy.

I could believe the figure because it impossible to move. Such a shame Venables and Bloye had to ruin it all two years later.

Gerry Queen

I was lucky and had a season ticket in the old stand that year. I remember turning up at 6.30pm, gates closed and thousands milling around outside

After the game, drinking until about 2am in the supporters' club, all the players coming in to a heroes' welcome. Venables carried in to chants "Some say God but we say Venables" (how times change).

Also remember next day on TV as MUFC team left hotel for cup final, thousands(?) of Palace fans celebrating (Croydon Hotel?) and drowning out the noise from the MUFC fans.


You lot make me feel very old - but I suppose I am! I was nearly 25 on that glorious Friday night in 1979. I went, as I had been doing for the last 12 years or more (first game was way back in December 1963) with a whole load of mates to stand on the Holmesdale.

We thought we were going to be stuck at the very back where the terracing ended so you were actually lower than the people in front of you but as more and more people came in we got moved forward till we could almost see most of the pitch. And what a game!

Yes, that definitely was the highlight for me. Villa Park on 1990 nearly matches it but that game saw us become champions - the only thing we'd ever won before was the Third Division (South) in 1920!

That is not to devalue the fabulous performance of the youth team winning the FA Youth Cup in the two previous years but this meant going up to the First Division with a team which was capable of beating the best.

We went on to the Fountain Head and manged to down several pints before going back to a mate's flat in Thornton Heath for champagne and goodness knows what else. I then drove back to Coulsdon

Only a few months later, we proved we could beat the best. The night before the Ipswich game in September that year I overdid the drinking and ended up in Croydon General with a suspected perforated ulcer.

It was nothing more than mild alcohol poisoning but they wanted to keep me in for another night. No way! I discharged myself, got myself home only to find my flatmate was out and I had no keys to get in.

Phoned my ex-girlfriend who came to my rescue and we got to Selhurst just in time for the start of that great match when we ended up top of the league for the first time ever.

That goal by Ian Walsh in the Burnley game was unforgettable because it flew off his head into the net - great cross from Vince - and it ended the tension, but the most memorable goal at Selhurst for me was that one by Jim Cannon, the fourth against Ipswich that day in September 1979.

There, I could go on for ages but that's what we old fogeys do best!


I brought tickets with my brother to go to the Burnley game. It was originally a match to be played in the middle of January but was postponed. The box office told us that the tickets would be valid for the rearranged match but didn't know when it would be played.

Disappointment changed to elation when we later realised that the tickets for a meaningless January fixture soon turned out to be hotter than cup final tickets.

Our seats were just right of the directors' box and we had a great view of the team when they came up to the director's box to celebrate with 50,000 fans who had spilled onto the pitch. The nearest I've seen to this occasion being repeated was the successful play-off against Blackburn.

We returned home later that evening to see goal highlights and celebrations which were shown on the late news bulletin. Sadly, this news footage (as far as I'm aware) has never been shown again... unless someone out there knows different.


Me and my mate Dave were both 12 and we always went down the front of the Whitehorse Lane end, banging the advertising hoarding and eating monkey nuts, no change on this night as we were right at the front just to the right of the goal.

My main memories were stewards shouting for everyone to "squeeze up" so they could get more people in at the back!!!

At the final whistle we charged onto the pitch with our main aim being to get to the centre spot which we just about managed to do.

I seem to remember the concrete dugout collapse with the weight of the people standing on it or is this just my memory playing tricks on me? Anyway it’s great to be able to say "I was there".

North Hants Eagle

I was aged 17 at the time. The atmosphere was out of this world. We were crammed into the Holmesdale by 6.00pm. I think the gates were closed at 6.30pm.

You could see loads of people climbing walls to get in. Fans climbed the floodlights to gain advantageous views.

The official gate was far to low. Looking back now, there is no way the game would have been played after Hillsborough. I recall a Sunderland flag in the Whitehorse Lane End and a guy going around with one outside the ground wrapped around his shoulders, he got some stick; ‘but there's loyalty for you’.

Everybody swayed as a single body, having the ground full an hour before kick-off created an immense amount of expectation. At no time were there any negative thoughts in our minds, there was only going to be one result.

I have to say I have never experienced an atmosphere like it since. I doubt we will ever have this many fans together again. This was real Palace history in the making and I was lucky enough to be part of it. The game it self I remember little about.

The celebrations afterwards on the pitch with the players coming out in the director’s box were something to savour. The walk home with red and blue everywhere and with all the car horns being sounded wherever you went was amazing. People literally were dancing in the streets.


I persuaded my old man and younger brother to come with me - they were Gooners but had a soft spot for Palace as we used to live in Thornton Heath.

I was living on the Isle of Sheppey at the time and due to the unreliability of the local buses and British Rail we had to leg it from Norwood Junction.

As we got halfway up the Holmesdale my brother and I left my old man behind. We were two of the last to get in the ground before the gates shut. I persuded the gate man to open the gate so I could look for him but he was nowhere to be seen.

After the game we couldn't fully enjoy the celebrations as I knew he would be waiting for us outside the ground. He had spent the evening in the Clifton Arms (I think) and even today, some 24 years later he doesn't let me forget about his lock-out at Palace!

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