1 February 2012


It’s a pretty sweet feeling today sitting in TSLR Towers safe in the knowledge that we still haven’t lost a league season double to P****e since the 1932/33 season. Back then, we lost to the scummers twice in eight days – the first away by the all too familiar score of 5-0 on Wednesday 31 August and then at home the following Wednesday by the more commendable 2-1. Imagine having to go through the rest of that season – all 49 games – without the chance of beating the degenerates from Selhurst. Luckily Albion fans didn’t – we beat them in the FA Cup first round at the end of November but the moral victory was theirs.

Fast forward almost 80 years and we were off to Selhurst once more. Like all of you should have done yesterday, we read Ben Cove’s awesome article of the rivalry on Sabotage Times and the fires (not the best choice of vocabulary after this, more on that later) were well and truly stoked. Cove quoted Sir Alan Mullery in his article and it was one element of this that particularly struck this half of TSLR’s editing team:

“As I was walking up the tunnel, a load of boiling hot coffee was thrown over me by a Crystal Palace supporter. So I pulled a handful of change out of my pocket, threw it on the floor and shouted, ‘That’s all you’re worth, Crystal Palace.’ And I’d shout it at anybody who did that.”

Mullery also offered Terry Venables – the scum’s manager at the time – a fiver for their entire squad after that game in 1976. So, primed with a pocketful of change (for throwing on the floor purposes only) and a five pound note, I set off for an evening of revenge for that fateful day in September 2011, October 2002, August 1932 and countless others. The policing operation was so extensive that you had to wonder why the Metropolitan Police hadn’t bothered to be this visible back during the August riots. They certainly could have saved a furniture shop from burning down or a number of pairs of trainers being taken from the local Foot Locker and ending up in a Nigel’s shoe collection.

The strict kettling of Albion fans from Norwood Junction to Selhurst meant that there was little interaction with the locals – it meant my change remained firmly in my pocket before kick off – although a passing pub meant waving a fiver was relatively easy. It’s amusing that so much of my behaviour last night was based on Mullery’s in ’76, a point seemingly made by almost all Albion fans as the away end resembled an episode of Life on Mars throughout. In fact, TSLR contributor and all round good egg The Hovian wrote in his match report that it felt like the 1980s. It certainly felt dated.

The ground is in need of some serious tender loving care what with its poor vantage points, pillars in the way and wooden seats that decimate shins when standing throughout. The terrace-like aura echoed the 70s as the crowd was made up of a lot of men (unlike Falmer, thank goodness the brief chant of ‘we’ll shag who we want’ fell quickly by the wayside) who were quite happy to drink and smoke throughout. 1970s? 1980s? It certainly didn’t feel like 2012 but it was that reminiscent attitude that seemed to make the atmosphere so wonderful.

Two great songs seemed to be born out of last night:

“You burnt down your town;
You burnt down your town;
You stupid bastards;
You burnt down your town.”

Which soon turned into:

“You should have burnt more;
You should have burnt more;
You stupid bastards;
You should have burnt more.”

The other was a touch of outright genius so fair play to those who coin these songs and never know how well they’ll be received until they get sung at a match:

“Group on, group on;
Buy one, get one free;
And you’ll never fill your ground;
You’ll never fill your ground.”

On the way home a few (very) youthful P****e fans were poking their little heads through the police cordon. Here’s my chance I thought. So I grabbed my change, threw it on the floor (causing concerned glances from police), and shouted: “That’s all you’re worth, Palace.”

*NB, the match itself was barely worth considering in this cultural observation piece. And,yes, that is a toilet in someone's front yard.

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