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October 25 2020 5.03am

And the joy came too

September 18 2019

Ian Wright scores his second against United

Ian Wright scores his second against United

A Palace supporter since the 1950s, Jamesey looks back over his many years with a mix of emotions in a two-part memoir. Here he remembers some of the nicer experiences

o - Being able to afford the price of my first season ticket in the seated (obviously) area of the Arthur Wait. It was about £70, quite a lump in the late '70s and as far as I remember there were no easy payment instalment options. Season ticket holders were the elite not the norm then!

o - What a day in May 1990. I still have a faded rosette on the wall at home. I’d been to Wembley before but to see Palace in the FA Cup Final was amazing. It was a draw and we queued for hours outside Selhurst Park to buy replay tickets for the following Tuesday. In these days of penalty shoot-outs it seems archaic and, of course we lost to Man U after a dismal game. But the joy of that first occasion is still vivid.

o - Ian Wright made a slow start to his Palace career but he did of course eventually become an all-time hero. Early in 1991 he gained his first England cap against Cameroon. He wasn’t our first England international but we were immensely proud of our kid from nowhere.

o - It may be somewhat strange to include this topic as a “pleasure” but only as Palace “gallows humour”. In 1999, under Mark Goldberg’s shambolic ownership, administration loomed towards the season’s end and no one appeared to know what was going on. At one point CPFC was being jointly managed by Tomas Brolin and Attilio Lombardo. One could barely speak English and the other had degenerated into an overweight and terrible footballer. What a combination - you really had to laugh.

o - As a Croydon schoolboy in the 1950s I used to catch the Southern Electric train up to Victoria and make my way to Stamford Bridge to watch Chelsea. A schoolmate tipped me off that there was a “local” team called “Crystal Palace” for some obscure reason. It was a culture shock to watch Division 3 (South) games to start with but in those distant days one took pride in the local team. So started a lifetime of supporting the Glaziers/Eagles in every division. What a bumpy but sometimes joyful experience it has been.

o - Was absolutely incredulous when newly-promoted Eagles gained the services of Attilio Lombardo from Juventus in 1997. Uncle Ron really splashed the shekels (£1.6m) on him and he graced the Selhurst turf for two seasons before returning to Italy in 1999. One of, if not the finest player to grace the team and it was always a delight to see him glide over the Selhurst turf.

o - Of all the characters and oddball personalities encountered through Palace over the decades, Alex Catto stood out above all-comers. A Scotsman of considerable girth and voice, Alex was a tough, old-fashioned editor of a building trade magazine. I worked for a sister business magazine and we sat next to each other in the Members/Main Stand for many years. Alex’s drinking marathons for away matches were legendary and his cries of “Cannon for Scotland” could be heard all over the ground but were ignored by the selectors. Sadly Alex passed through the departure lounge in 2018 and won’t ever be forgotten by this friend.

o - Ron Noades. It astonishes me to read the vitriol sometimes aimed at our finest chairman. He was a businessman who made money and created a successful and respected Palace club out of nothing when he arrived. Our best years and finest achievements came under his guidance and people slag him off? I corresponded with Ron and always got a courteous response. When he sold the club to Mark Goldberg and went to Brentford he sent me a letter which I still covet, wishing Palace and we supporters all the luck in the world. A tough but nice man and a great chairman.

o - Linking up with Ron (above), our finest years in my view were 1989-93. Promotion to the top tier, an FA Cup Final. In my opinion we had the best collection of players in our history — internationals like Ian Wright, Geoff Thomas, Andy Gray, Nigel Martyn, John Salako and many more top-flight players. But for the reappearance of Liverpool after their Heysel tragedy ban, we would have played in Europe (Yes, WILFRIED ZAHA). Those four terrific seasons ended in relegation of course, but we’re used to that in SE25!

o - Apart from obvious groups of people who are going to hate us (you know who I mean) I have generally found hardly any animosity towards me as a Palace supporter. Maybe it’s because we aren’t much of a threat that the even big clubs can be magnanimous. Even those with no interest in the game as such, tend to like our modern red-and-blue strip. In a world increasingly full of hatred and division this old-timer finds solace and satisfaction in all that.

*Apologies for the probable inaccuracies in these accounts. I never kept a diary and now my memory ain’t what it used to be - Jamesey.

Read part 1 of Jamesey's memoir here.

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