Fan Stories – Crystal Palace

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In an extract from our upcoming book Following Football , here is the story of Crystal Palace fan Christopher Gunn’s most memorable day following his favourite team.

May 2nd 2010 Sheffield Wednesday v Crystal Palace


Christopher Gunn from New Addington in Croydon has been a Palace fan ever since his grandad brought him to his first game at the tender age of 4, Palace would beat Watford 1-0 that day with Sasa Curcic netting the winner and he was hooked. Still a season ticket holder today Chris spends his days in SE25 in with the noisy boys of Block C. His favourite Palace side was the 2005 version, which included legends like Andy Johnson, Aki Riihilahi and Dougie Freedman. His favourite player was Clinton Morrison or Clinton O’Morrison as he was affectionately known by Irish football fans, who was a product of the Eagles famous youth academy.

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The game that Chris classes as his most memorable took place on May 2nd 2010. It was a winner takes all affair against Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough, with the loser facing relegation to League One and in Palace’s case potential administration as a result, even though the Eagles had started the season with a 10 point deduction for going into administration the previous season. On the morning of the game Chris ordered a massive breakfast to set him up for a big day ahead, but nerves would take hold and he would spend the next 20 minutes staring at his plate, barely able to eat.

 

Off to the train he went with his Palace supporting Dad and Brother, when, in keeping with how his morning had been going so far, he tripped and feel on his face on the platform. Embarrassment and no small amount of pain came over Chris as he was picked to his feet by 2 fellow commuters, his embarrassment would soon turn to awe as he looked up to see the 2 men that had helped him to his feet were Eagles heros Ian Wright and Mark Bright of the deadly Striking duo of the late 80’s early 90’s. They offered him a seat beside them on the train, talk soon turned to the upcoming game and Chris predicted that the game would be a 2-2 draw and Palace would stay up by the skin of their teeth. Wright and Bright shared some stories of the good old days at Palace like the 1990 cup run and the Zenith Cup win the following year until they reached Sheffield, when they said their goodbyes and agreed they might even see each other again on the train back.

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On the way to the stadium Chris broke away from his group to hit the Bookies were he backed up his earlier prediction by putting a cheeky fiver on a score of 2-2 and added Alan Lee to score first at odds of 100/1. The game that ensued was one of incredible passion, tension and drama, in the end the game finished 2-2 with Palace surviving a late Wednesday onslaught to survive the dreaded faith of relegation. Creating scenes of delirium amongst the travelling SE25 faithful. The cherry on top for Chris was that Alan Lee had scored first so as well as Palace staying up, he was now £500 richer.

 

After the game all the Palace fans stopped at a local pub which happened to be frequented by Sheffield United fans who were taking as much joy in Sheffield Wednesday going down as Palace fans were about staying up, this extended to rounds of drinks being passed between both sets of supporters. As the party kicked off all around Chris noticed a man in Wednesday colours sitting dejected on a curb across the road , with his winnings from the bookies Chris bought the man a pint of Ale and commiserated with him and both agreed they couldn’t believe what had happened in the game they had just witnessed. On the train on the way home he would again cross paths with messrs Wright and Bright, rounds of drinks were ordered and they all agreed they couldn’t believe Chris’s prediction had been spot on. Mark Bright also mentioned that a possible takeover of the club was about to occur.

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To this day whenever he sees Wright and Bright in SE25 they reminisce about that day in Sheffield and in a classy move they have extended to Chris the offer to sit with them at any Palace game he chooses once a year. Chris will never forget the day that had started so nervously and ended on such a high. One to tell the grandkids about and we can all agree the kind of day that all Football fans live and dream for!!

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