29 November 2012


Marco van Bastard has provided TSLR with his thoughts ahead of El Crapico on Saturday...

Words fail me about Palace. Not because I hate them, or because I’m desperate to beat them, or because I’m trembling with trepidation about FFS haunting us with the sort of clinical finishing which will probably be conspicuous by its absence at the other end, but because I’m completely indifferent about them and the game, to the point where I might not even watch it at Falmer (although if I do, and I drink enough beforehand, I daresay I’ll shit myself with excitement for as long as I’m drunk, then fall asleep.) Last year’s experience at Selhurst – nearly getting punched, sub-festival toilets, streets lined with anxious horses and the incendiary atmosphere of a warzone on the way back – only stoked the flame inside me to get away from the worst ground and town I’ve ever been to as quickly as possible and never return again. There was no hatred. About six years ago, Palace were one of the first clubs I remember charging £30 a ticket. At the time, I wasted a shorthand lesson drafting a faux-outraged letter to Simon Jordan about it, which never saw the light of his letterbox (would they have letterboxes or offices at Selhurst? Would the postman bother trying to deliver there? It’s hard to envisage.) I can just about hack paying £30 occasionally given that most grounds are modern, at least to the point where you can still have a slash and the ground isn’t completely derelict of facilities and soul. But the thought of paying £32 plus booking fee to go to Selhurst, no matter how important the match, is as risible as being offered a mortgage on a toxic slagheap.

I suppose I’m as moderately bereft as I am at missing any away game, but I don’t regret missing out in the slightest. By definition, a depth of feeling has to exist in order to consider someone an enemy. We might temporarily scorn their league position, but Palace have the worst ground and kit in the country, their only achievement an unendingly depressing series of relegations from the Premier League. Pin me down and I might mention the Palace fan I once lived with – a chap so nice my attempts at “banter” invariably ascended towards friendlier discussions of music and film – or the 5-0 defeat on my birthday, or the 1-0 win when I won £250 from a series of 50p scorecast bets. I definitely don’t want us to lose, if only for the stampede of burbling degenerates waiting to clog up the internet on a foaming tidal wave of illiterate homophobia and incomprehensible frustration. Ultimately, I want my friends to get in and out of there safely, and to be able to have a wee if they need one. Based on last year, that seems as outlandish as expecting us to tuck away a last minute penalty winner.

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