Palace fans celebrate the chance of a future
Crystal Palace have grown accustomed to facing the media spotlight in recent months, due to a well-documented financial plight and also the thrilling end of season battle at Hillsborough.
The tension, atmosphere and sheer importance of that game with Sheffield Wednesday was incredible and there was a feeling that the Palace fans deserved Championship safety for all the turmoil they have had to suffer. It now seems that both sides involved in that dogfight are still looking back on their May date with contrasting emotions.
Palace have reaped the rewards and Wednesday are feeling the consequences. The Eagles are on the brink of climbing out of administration while the Owls are facing a winding up order from HM Revenue and Customs relating to an unpaid tax bill.
For Palace, with George Burley now in charge and key players in Darren Ambrose, Sean Scannell, and Neil Danns all remaining at the club, another relegation scare should be unthinkable for the season coming and the 10-point penalty will not be imposed a second time.
Burley, on initial thoughts, looks to be a shrewd appointment, a manager who knows the league well after hugely successful spells with Ipswich and Derby County and having done a steady job at Southampton despite their off-field difficulties at the time. Fresh from a disappointing stint as Scotland manager, Burley will no doubt be looking to stamp his mark back on English club football.
A season of steady building should be in order as the CPFC 2010 group run by Steve Parish look to stabilise the club for the future. And beyond, there is no reason why the club cannot return to the Premier League soon.
As ever, Palace will be boosted by a genuine twelfth man and support widely agreed to be some of the best in the Football League, in the shape of the Holmesdale fanatics. The European-style ultra group are entering their fifth official season and are now a benchmark for other groups aiming to adopt a similar style of support for rival clubs.
Their way features colourful displays, non-stop singing and a close-knit family feel among members. Equally impressive away from home, the group keeps growing and it comes as little surprise that their approach is being replicated by many others in the Football League.
The ultra mindset manages to draw like-minded fans together, encouraging standing at grounds, waving of flags and bouncing as one, whilst ensuring a distance from the hooligan actions which helped disable many supports a good fifteen years ago.
The group now has a decent relationship with the Palace board and seems to have gained the respect many clubs fail to give similar groups early on in their lifespan. While not for all, Palace’s support has to be admired and, along with similarly successful groups at Celtic and York, may well have paved the way for a more exuberant method of getting behind your team – a team that, thanks to Steve Parish and CPFC2010, now has a future after all.
Written by: Tom Moore