It’s no surprise that, as we approach the calendar month of December and that game at Selhurst, Crystal Palace are being lauded countrywide. This could work in our favour but probably won’t, if recent Albion v palace match-ups are anything to go by. I have written on here about my insane hatred for Mark Bright before but this recent Wilfred Zaha-playing-for-England inspired love-in has got me all worked up again.
I live in a very comfortable flat situated next to Arsenal’s monstrous (and, dare I say, characterless) Emirates Stadium - or the new Highbury, as I like to call it. It’s no surprise that the house is owned by one of their season ticket holders. The living room is plastered in Arsenal memorabilia, apart from one poster - of Liam Bridcutt in our title winning season. Bridders took pride of place after that win at Walsall and, to be fair to the wall’s official owner (and landlord), Liam has stood the test of almost two seasons. There is, however, one problem with this wall: upon its nicotine stained paintwork is a framed, signed image of Ian Wright (to be honest, it's slightly more tasteful than the montage atop this post).
Every time I catch a glimpse of this framed monstrosity, I see him in red and blue stripes. The photo depicts Ian Wrong (sorry, had to) in an Arsenal shirt, yet whenever I glimpse this framed man I see nothing but Palace. It’s a constant reminder of the fact Brighton and Hove Albion have always been slightly worse than those from Selhurst, in my time at least. There were chapters (OK, perhaps just paragraphs) when we were better - finishing above them in the league last season; that 1-0 victory in 2005. But even that latter winning high ground was eroded away by Dougie Freedman et al at the Withers a few games later. And we have nine points to overhaul this year if we're to back up last season.
The thing with Ian Wright these days is that he has now said such stupid things deriding those from Highbury that many Arsenal fans now think he’s a fool as well. I just need to compile a list of his quotes and take them to my flatmate - then surely the framed image of my nightmares will disappear. Forever. Perhaps, I should offer some extra rent if only to get the Ian Wright photo removed, rather than simply moan about it on here.
This time at Selhurst, I dream of it being different. But then, I spent most of last summer eagerly anticipating this brave new world in which Albion would cement last season’s higher league placing over the club we just love to hate. Somehow, and despite initial concern up the A23 this season, Freedman built them up so well they neared the top of the table and within touching distance of the promised top flight land. Now they have - in Ian Holloway - a manager who has already taken a club without a necessarily strong squad to Division 1. So, come 1 December, the natural order of a Palace home win will most probably be restored.
But this is football, and we might win. And if we do, the first thing I’ll do is taunt the frame in which Ian Wright watches my every living room move.
If you need any further inspiring words to help you hate Palace ahead of December, check out this little beauty of a (now deleted) Tweet we got from a drunken Selhurstian on Twitter who obviously wasn’t quite aware of their club’s Group On credentials last month: “@tslr 1thing palace don't have 2 do beg students come and watch us play. Sorry give away free ticket like the sad seaweed gay c***s”
Roll on the next 11 days…