Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Veg Field

Rumours abound that Palace might move to the Selhurst allotments near the railway line. Sounds like there could be rich pickings there for a club looking to grow, especially if we have a fine crop of youngsters, but then our Academy always was a fertile breeding ground for unearthing home grown talent. Bit worried about having to fork out for season tickets though.

A great idea would be to have the opening game against ManUre, or maybe against the 'Weed (it wouldn't be the first time they've soiled themselves on a visit to the Palace).

Palace team for the first game at 'The Veg Field'?

1. Fraser Dig-by
2. Danny Butternut
3. Paul Bush
4. Tomas Brolin (well he's a Swede isn't he)
5. Gary Marrowdale
6. Ben Watson (the Camberwell carrot)
7. Stuart Greenhouse
8. Wayne Sproutledge
9. Trevor Aylottment
10. Stan Collyflower
11. Phil Rhubarber

Manager Alan Mulberry

CPFC unprepared for global warming – scientists

Crystal Palace FC has made no plans to tackle global warming, Eagle Eye can exclusively reveal.

Despite the warnings of scientists, government ministers and environmental campaigners that climate change is set to devastate the planet, causing the sixth great extinction with the loss of more than 60% of all species including all varieties of seagull (hopefully), the Palace club shop last Saturday was still selling woolly hats.

Palace chairman Simon Jordan said that the club had asked Croydon Council about the possibilities of relocating to the north pole but had been told he would be ‘skating on thin ice’.

‘It looks very much like I’ve wasted my money putting in undersoil heating as the pitch is going to end up looking like the Kalahari,’ said Jordan, ‘on the other hand at least I’ll be able to top up my tan.’

Jordan dismissed fears that Palace had not done enough to prepare for an apocalyptic future. ‘Selhurst Park is a designated disaster area,’ he said, we do have a Green policy – we play him every now and then – but it’s proving ineffective.’

Scientists say that temperatures in the Selhurst Park region have risen steadily since Jordan bought the club. Sporadic furious eruptions have made the atmosphere unstable and last summer a great lump broke away and drifted north towards SE7 before melting away completely.

Palace, however, refuse to accept the science behind global warming. ‘I don’t expect to see any scorchers down here,’ said manager Peter Taylor, ‘the players aren’t allowed over the half way line.’

Selhurst Park has already seen Johnson’s Gazelle – a lightning paced predator – moved further north in search of more fertile feeding grounds while another species under threat is Mark Kennedy, a sloth-like creature thought to be millions of years old who is highly sensitive to the over use of energy. ‘Phew! It’s a bit warm isn’t it?’ he said, before fading away altogether. ‘I’m pooped.’

Who owns Selhurst Park?

God, the wearying issue of Selhurst Park's ownership gets another airing in the Guardian today (click on the headline to read the story). Often if you're the subjecct of an article by David Conn there's cause for concern, although Simon Jordan insists we shouldn't be.

There's plenty of discussion on the BBS here:

The 'CPFC and Selhurst Park reunited' stuff now seems a little disingenuous. SJ did rather miss out the bit about Palace paying £1m a year rent (more than we paid Uncle Ron's Altonwood) at his triumphal October press conference. Besides, they weren't very good t-shirts were they, so perhaps fans would be within their rights to return them to the club shop for a refund?

Long term, the suspicion is mounting that Palace may be on the move, the Selhurst allotments not too far from the site of the old pre-1924 ground 'the Nest' has been mooted.

0-0? Blimey, that’s good…

A good point – 0-0 at Sunderland fits perfectly into the tradition of encounters between the two clubs always being tighter than a pair of size sevens on a Sasquatch (see previous post).

Given that many of us half expected a prize thrashing, a clean sheet is indeed good going. It extends our unbeaten league run and Peter Taylor will feel vindicated in keeping things tight. Palace do seem to be increasingly difficult to beat, even though it didn’t sound as if we were ever likely to nick a win, which of course would have been even better.

Another goalless draw with not many chances, but it sounds as if they worked hard and I think we’d all have taken that beforehand.

Just a note on Sunderland, who’ve been in pretty good form of late. We’ve been moaning about our journeymen, but how many of us realised they’ve got David Connolly and Dwight Yorke, who must be in his mid-eighties by now? Suddenly Scowcroft and Kuqi don’t sound so bad, do they?

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Sunderland v Palace: a case history

Expecting a goal feast in this evening's Sunderland-Palace match? History suggests otherwise as Tony Matthews reveals

As post FA Cup gloom settles, our eagles go straight back into league action at Sunderland tonight with the hopelessly optimistic believing that victory will establish a platform to get our play-off hopes back on track, while the hopelessly pessimistic fear it will merely confirm that our season is well and truly over.

Trips to Sunderland inevitably spark memories of our remarkable play-off victory in 2004 via a last gasp Darren Powell goal and an astonishing penalty shoot out, but that aside our record there is far from impressive and you have to go right back to 1979 to find our last 90 minute victory, a 2-1 triumph for Terry Venables’ young Eagles that had a significant bearing on the eventual destination of the second division championship.

Even in the play off we actually lost 2-1 on the night and that has been the final score on each of our last three visits. The best we have managed in modern times was a 0-0 draw in the FA Cup in 2001, a good result at the time for our first division strugglers against a Black Cats side that was flying high in the Premiership.

In fact the last 28 encounters, stretching back more than 30 years to Alan Whittle’s deciding strike in a tense FA Cup quarter-final at Roker Park in 1976, has seen neither team score more than two goals in a match, although Sunderland did get four in that 2001 FA Cup replay, but only after extra-time. That aside, every match has ended 0-0, 1-1, 1-0 or 2-1 except for a single 2-0 victory to each team (ours was in 1988-89 and theirs ten years later).

So how will it go tonight? Although we won the home game just before Christmas, we were unimpressive in doing so. On the hopeful side, we’re long overdue a win at Sunderland, but a statistical curiosity isn’t much to build our hopes on. If Peter Taylor once again sets his team out to play ultra-negatively, as at Preston, Wolves and Cardiff, then maybe we’ll claim another nil-nil. But if we concede early to a Sunderland team with their tails up, we may have to watch a Palace side without the heart to prevent the kind of hammering that will end decades’ worth of nip and tuck.

Lack of pace – the solution

'Where's the pace?' we all wail as a Palace counter attack trundles over the half way line with all the speed of Mrs Doyle from Father Ted with a fully laden tea trolley. Don't think that Palace's management have been tardy with the answer to our speed crisis... secret designs from the club show some real creativity in pepping up those players struggling to build up a head of steam.

By far the greatest team?

Some statistics appear to prove that Palace are useless, but we say they're the greatest team ever. So who's right? It must be us, surely! Tony Matthews sets the record straight on CPFC’s place in the world

For no apparent reason, The Times has produced a statistical chart of the 'greatest ever' team, which has Palace lolloping along in a princely 62nd, some way behind the Seaweed (you see it has taken on a surreal quality already).

The chart seems to be based on the number of points per game won in the top flight (old first division and new fangled Premiership) which strikes me as a bloody silly way of working out the mark of a great team. Since when has winning games been the primary object of football?

There's clearly a cultural imbalance here, because The Times is labouring under the misapprehension that Liverpool, Man United and Arsenal are the three best teams ever, whereas anybody with even half a brain would say ‘no they’re bleeding well not’. (NB: don't look for Chelsea in the top ten, they haven't been a cheque book team for nearly long enough).

If people want to think a football team is good just because it wins all the time then fine, who are we to disturb them? I guess they're the same kind of people who vote for Dire Straits or Coldplay in ‘all time greatest’ music polls instead of, say, Muddy Waters.

I would argue that the most important criteria for a truly great club is not how many cups they've bought but whether the fans know what to expect next. What we're looking for here is a club that can build hope then cruelly shatter illusions and reduce you to tears of joy or embarrassment (usually within the space of 90 minutes). In that category only one name springs to mind… Palace.

Stats can tell you anything you like, but I don't see how four teams who are directly responsible for the sterility, pointlessness even, of modern football can be in any way considered 'great'? What’s so great about clubs who have buggered up the whole sport just cos they can’t take losing? Man U, the Arse, Chelsea and Liverpool are the ultimate spoilt kids who take their ball home if you don’t let them win.

There used to be an adage that you couldn't buy success, but now it's the only way to achieve anything, but don't insult us by calling it an achievement. Chelsea may be 'champions', but let's be quite clear that it is the hollowest of 'triumphs'. What are Chelsea champions of exactly? Champions of nothing.

Palace, meanwhile, are champions of driving their supporters up the pole, of building something promising only for it all to fall down again. We're the kings of making people sigh inwardly to conceal the pain, the clown princes of proper football.

So, there you go, who best represents the greatest club ever? A club that had a fantastic day 17 years ago, and whose fans still appreciate it as the pinnacle of footballing excitement and talk about it as if it was only yesterday? Or some club which has paid a handful of mercenaries to deliver them eight or nine trophies in the last five years but now nobody can remember what they were?

Compare how miserable Arsenal were about winning the FA Cup a couple of years back, just because they came second in the league. God, their attitude stank, Bobby Robson, who presented the beautiful old trophy that day, should have chucked it down the steps at the scowling, Gallic gits. Who wants to support one of the 'best clubs' with an attitude like that?

I'd rather wait the rest of my life for one last shot at winning the FA Cup and have it be a dream come true than win the bloody thing every year but not appreciate it in the slightest. Our days out in the play-offs may not have been the height of foootballing excellence, but they were very personal to us (I’m sure the fans of many other clubs will feel the same) and we’ll cherish them forever.

So, don't give me this 'great club' crap. Here’s the proper ‘official’ best team ever table (according to how interesting a club is)

1st place: Palace – mad as March hares and we love them
2nd... Er, nobody really
Equal joint permanently last: Man U, Chelsea, the Arse and Liverpool – a total waste of time, the lot of 'em.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Dullest Season since records began

This really has got to be the dullest season ever. No real highs and no really, really low points. Mildly competent at times and just mid table. That's not much good when you've been used to the usual roller coaster that is supporting Palace. Alright so losing at home to Colchester was a disgrace, but they were better than us on that day and it seemed almost predictable that we would lose to them anyway.

Why so dull? In my opinion a combination of many things. A very unsettled team hasn't helped, but no-one has yet played better than expected, may be apart from Mark Hudson. The established players have played at times badly or just below what we know they are capable of e.g. Michael Hughes, Clinton Morrison etc. etc. New signings have been underwhelming. For me though the most worrying aspect is that not one player currently seems to have any potential to be better than what they already are or what we know them to be. No new rising talents from the reserves or youth team. The likes of Borrowdale, Watson etc. we know they are unlikely to get any better and as for Lawrence, Fletcher and Kennedy it's all a bit too late in their careers. I'm really disappointed that Peter Taylor hasn't used his under 21 network to find a few more rising stars that would bring a bit of excitment back to Selhurst.

For me it explains the complete indifference to the FA Cup game and the less than happy reaction at the end of the Preston game. At least you had some inkling before the game as to what you were going to get. Having bought a season ticket I had no idea what to expect this season, but having bought the bloody thing...

Eagle Eye – a brief history of the Palace fanzine

Eagle Eye’s founder John Ellis explains how the fanzine sprang to life in the late 1980s

I wasn’t sure what the reaction would be when, in October 1987, I wandered into Norwood boozers flogging the first issue of Eagle Eye.

For 30p I was offering 16 pages of loosely typed photocopied ramblings, hoping that it might strike a chord with other people who felt about football, and more importantly Palace, the way that I did.

Although someone called me ‘Ron Noades’s son’, the reaction was remarkable. People wrote back amazed that there were other Palace fans out there who still cared for the club deeply and who retained, despite the living hell that was the first half of the 1980s, a sense of humour and perspective that was missing from just about every other aspect of football discussion.

Leading the way for the new fanzine ‘movement’ were the general magazines When Saturday Comes and Off the Ball. I did a few things for the former, but when I told its editor Mike Ticher that, really, all I knew about was Palace he encouraged me to start Eagle Eye. With the help of a Pritt stick, a dodgy typewriter and a couple of friends, things soon took on a life of their own.

For the next seven years, Eagle Eye blazed away at all the ills of football and gave many people an outlet not only for their frustrations but also to be creative.

The game was in a sorry state, no doubt, the media and the clubs themselves were clueless, and to admit to being a football supporter was akin to sending yourself to social Siberia (or, worse, Coventry). People genuinely assumed that you went off to war at weekends, when the reality was that you stood with your hands in your pockets on a half empty terrace, behind a big fence cursing the efforts of no-hopers like Tommy Langley and David Price.

It scarcely seems credible today that an entire nation has become so completely swept up in the game, there’s no escaping it and sometimes I think that’s not such a good thing. There’s saturation coverage that no politician or big brand can afford to ignore and yet, from a Palace point of view, we still have to put up with articles or hear pundits talking about us in a way that bears no relation to the way the fans view the club.

At times the fanzine sent the club, and particularly Noades, up the wall, but they couldn’t deny that it’s heart was pure Palace. Put simply, Eagle Eye followed by Palace Echo and now the BBS have given the fans a voice and, on reflection, the best thing they did with it was to identify for themselves what this club is all about… and it’s a damn sight more than just ‘winning is everything’.

This article first appeared in the book Palace Till I Die

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Saddam in Palace jibe shocker?

Officials in Iraq have claimed that Saddam Hussein is still alive. Iraqi state tv broadcast a video showing the former leader giving an interview which was said to be 'live'...

‘To prove I am still alive, Palace were total sh**e on Saturday,' said Saddam.

The British Government said: ‘That could have been recorded any time in the last two and a half years.’

Submitted by Phil Huffer

Midlife Crisis – the Palace version

By Steve Crisp

Why did we give up doing Eagle Eye as a mag? The final editorial said something about not wanting to be 30-something fanzine writers. Well, here we all are now as nearly all 40-something blog writers. So how about a mid-life crisis top ten?

1. Depression, charactised by low moods and apparently unaccountable feelings of sadness and lethargy and a tendency to look fondly back at the past while thinking there’s no future… hang on, that’s just watching Palace generally isn’t it?
2. Paul If ill-advised affair
3. New Darren Wardrobe
4. Awareness of your own mortality while waiting for CPFC to wn the FA Cup
5. Itzak tight Zara jeans
6. TestosserRon Noades
7. Paul Barren bank account
8. Jim membership at Cannons
9. Terry Long hair
10. Eric Younger woman

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Small dreams of a Palace fan

Gorn and lost the f***ing Cup
We’re not even going up
We’re no good
In fact we’re bad
We are the Palace
We’re mad!

So much for the Football Association Challenge Cup then. Another sad exit this afternoon and, by all accounts, a second half performance as bad as any seen at Selhurst Park so far this season (and Gawd knows there have been a few).

Staying away from any Palace match can never be considered a good choice, but given the ticket prices and the seeming inevitability of the capitulation, the 50% of our core support who opted not to go for whatever reason probably made the right decision.

What makes it especially sad is that a group of fans, inspired by a chap called Away Day Eagle from the BBS, attempted to put some much needed life back into the competition with a finely executed tribute to Malcolm Allison. They even got themselves featured in the Sun with a classic picture harking back to the swashbuckling Palace cup run of 1976. In all, more than a hundred fans took the trouble to don fedoras, drag sheepskin coats out of wardrobes or pick them up from charity shops and, with champagne flowing in the pubs and inflatable cigars and bubbly bottles waving, they sought to lift the flagging spirits of the club.

I’m sure they had a brilliant time, but it’s a shame that the fun had to end so soon. Today could have been the start of something. Just think of it, we could have been drawn against someone like Spurs away in the next round. You could easily imagine the snowball effect as more and more fans picked up on it and a sea of south London charm swept over the soulless wasteland that is north London. Picture it now, after clinging on like grim death against arrogant Premiership opponents a rare sweeping Palace move ends with the only goal. Into the quarter finals then and, by now, the club have stepped up a gear. Given a reasonable draw against some beatable side or other, the fedora force enthuses players and fans. The self-belief and media frenzy carries us to a semi-final probably against someone like Bolton, Blackburn or another dour bunch of northern gits with no sense of humour. Palace start off as the usual shambles but somehow hang on, then late on there’s a scramble and out of nowhere a red and blue sock appears to poke home the winner. Bedlam! The whole place is an orgy of hats, kipper ties, Rubettes LP covers, platform shoes and inflatable champagne glasses. Big Mal, God bless him, smiles.

That’s what the FA Cup has needed pretty much since the last time we made it to Wembley. An end to soulless all-Premiership encounters, this would be a final to capture the hearts of the nation. With a 70s inspired Palace at Wembley, the entire David Bowie back catalogue would re-enter the charts, Man About the House would be given a prime time re-run on BBC One and the players get themselves fitted out in cup final suits resplendent with 36” bottom loon pants and oxblood Doctor Martens. Ford re-issues the Cortina MkIII as a special tribute edition… only available in white with a red and blue sash running diagonally across the bonnet.

All that could have been ours… but now the dream has been crushed by the ineptitude of a Palace team quite frankly not fit to lace the boots of its counterpart of 30 years ago. As one BBS poster grimly noted, Peter Taylor wouldn’t pick the 1976 version of himself to play in this current side. It’s enough to make you weep.

Now all we’re left with is the prospect of a season fizzling out before the last dregs of January and another feeble cup attempt to forget. Someone else on the BBS reckoned this was about the worst time to try something like a fedora revival because the team is incapable of raising itself beyond the distressingly ordinary. I reckon it was a noble attempt to lift a season that has been going nowhere pretty much since the first game of the season. It’s pretty hard at moments like these to say ‘we don’t care we’re Palace fans’.

Still the FA Cup still twinkles, so handshakes all round to Preston. This time next year, will be our year, eh?

The fifty quid question

The magic of the FA Cup. I’ve always loved cup days even though with Palace, a cup run is usually just that – a day.

But here we are through to the fourth round and with half a hope of making it into the hat for round five, athough I worry that Preston is yet another club that seems to have some kind of magic sign over us.

Sadly, it’s a quarter to one and while many fans will be starting to gather in the pubs around Selhurst Park, I won’t be there. I did take my son to the third round tie against Swindon but this time out financial reality bites. Even buying the tickets in advance, once I’ve included drinks and a programme it would cost me the best part of £50 to take both my children.

Perhaps I’m out of touch with reality, but I’ll repeat that… ‘fifty pounds’. It’s bloody expensive, and bear in mind that these are actually reduced prices, normal league games cost more. It grieves me to say that at that price they’ll have to do without me, it’s just too much, we’re still recovering from Christmas and I haven’t got it.

I don’t know what the attendance will be today, but it won’t be much to write home about and there won’t be a sudden rush given that Palace, in their infinite wisdom, raise ticket prices by a fiver on the day (what is the point of that?). Thousands of regulars including many season ticket holders will stay away, probably factoring into their decision the fact that Preston are hardly attractive opposition and Palace have been anything but inspiring to watch this season. I can’t take the chance that, come five o’clock, I’ll be left thinking that I’ve wasted £50.

It’s a tough one. Many fans would argue that you have to support the team through thick and thin and even those who are a bit more flush might feel that it’s a realistic price, but not for families it isn’t. I can’t justify the price the club wants for what will almost certainly be a second rate football experience.

My son, who is ten, has been quite good about it. He loves to go to games and has asked and I’ve just had to be honest: ‘Sorry mate, I’d love to take you, I wish I was there myself, but we just can’t afford it at the moment.’ So he’s watching Luton v Blackburn on the telly when really we should be on the train to Norwood Junction about now.

Eagle Eye… the Palace fanzine… the blog

Oh, hello!

This seemed like a good idea when we were in the pub, which is where all of Eagle Eye's greatest ideas emerged.

It has been a long time since we ceased the old A4 photocopied and prittsticked fanzine, leaving the admirable Palace Echo to soldier on in our place, but blogs have tempted us back. The lure of talking pure rubbish about the famous Crystal Palace FC was too great. And, thank heavens for the internet because we don't have to get it printed, and we don't have to stand in the rain trying to flog it to the shivering band of devotees and the odd away fan who would then sheepishly return saying: 'Sorry, I thought it was the programme.'

For those of you who don't know what Eagle Eye is or was, we were among the first of that celebrated wave of football fanzines that shook the game up in the late 1980s by taking the piddle out of players, managers and chairmen (and just look at the sport now, eh, marvelous isn't it? Ummm). We did all that for a while, drank far too heavily, and then went off to have lives, kids and that kind of thing, but we never stopped loving Palace and now technology has caught up with us and, even though we're increasingly a bunch of out of touch old gits at a loss to understand how anyone could possibly like Snow Patrol, we can now witter on again about, oh I don't know... things.

We envisage this blog to be shambolic, we're not too fussed about making it look nice, but we do hope to enjoy ourselves. We used to pride ourselves that Eagle Eye had so many contributors and this hopefully will be no different. If you want to comment or add to the general silliness, feel free. If you want to submit articles there will be an email address somewhere and we'll happily consider posting it up for you.

It does seem a little strange, looking around, that football and CPFC in particular appears to have failed to colonise the 'blogosphere' (what a dreadful word). Perhaps that's because the CPFC BBS at and Holmesdale Online at are so wonderful, and we're also well served by many other Palace sites, notably However we feel there's room for Eagle Eye's take on things too. We may well be the first dedicated Palace blog but it doesn't matter too much, hopefully we can complement what's already out there and add a little hilarity back into the lives of Palace supporters everywhere (and even the odd visiting fan, you're most welcome).

Look out for all manner of drivel over the coming days and weeks...

Anyway, Palace for the Cup! Good luck tomorrow you Eagles, although Peter Taylor hardly inspired confidence with his battle cry: 'I never seem to do very well in the cups.' Oh blimey.

A Palace technology chart

Oh dear, having gone boldly marching off into the cyberfuture, it seems like my creaking old Apple Mac OS9.something with Internet Explorer 5.1 is going to seriously struggle to handle anything beyond the odd clumsy post. I'll have to rely on others to change the colours to red and blue and do the interesting things like add pictures. Anyway it inspired a quick Palace technology chart just to have another post up here. So now there's two things on the blog for you to read. Gosh, this is exciting...

1. Bodcast – where you can download Paul Bodin to your PC or listen on your iBod before replacing it with a cooler version two weeks later.
2. iAntunes – specialises in Brazilian samba rhythms, but play it twice and it becomes unusable
3. Ronline – people who use the internet to spout the thoughts of Chairman Ron
4. Mammary Stick – what Peter Taylor, Jim Cannon et al got from their good ladies after the Fiona Richmond incident
5. Orange – erm, something to do with mobile phones
6. Broadband – what we should have on our away kit, preferably diagonally in red and blue
7. Tommy Blackberry – looks very stylish to begin with, until you see what else is out there
8. EricctheNinjasson
9. Kenny Samsung
10. Micscowcroft Windows 2000 XP thingummyjig – not the best on the market by a long chalk, but reliable and you have to have one

...and Motorola... or Len Chatterton's Flatterer as we used to call it... motor roller (geddit?) Oh, please yourselves