Saturday, March 17, 2007

Oh look...

... we lost 1-0 at Plymouth. For such an unpredictable team, Palace are entirely bloody predictable sometimes.

Watching Sky Sports News this afternoon was agony with Cardiff, Stoke and Wolves trailing and Southampton having lost last night, it was all set up for us to put ourselves just five points off the play-offs. All we have to do is win at faltering Plymouth. So what do we do? We turn in a flat performance and lose. Gits!

Yes, yes, yes, we've never been good enough to make the play-offs in any case, yes, yes, yes, it would be a disaster if we somehow got promoted, yes, yes, yes, we're rebuilding blah blah blah, but as the Jam once sang 'you set up your dreams to have them dashed in the end'. Bloody Palace... bloody, bloody Palace!

Friday, March 16, 2007

I just bet we lose at Plymouth

Suddenly, spring has sprung, there are daffodils and crocuses popping up in the Palace garden, birdies are tweeting and the Eagles are soaring (well, not exactly soaring, but we're tenth and we did somehow beat West Brom).

Three weeks ago, the season looked all over, but after Wednesday's excellent win, we're now only eight points off the play-offs and that eternal optimist within us is dreaming of sneaking up on the rails and catching the faltering top six off balance.

Can we do it? For the first time all season, the pulses quicken a little bit, we need another big win at Home Park tomorrow, we need to push ourselves up onto the shoulders of the chasing pack, we need to continue with the recent good form, it's almost very nearly exciting. Blimey, the match almost matters... the ghosts of 2004's miraculous run come floating before us. Could we? Will we?

You can see what's coming can't you? We're daring to dream here, we're thinking 'what if?' and 'maybe', some of us are even rummaging around for calculators. We're fools to ourselves aren't we... we'll lose 1-0.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Twenty first century schizoid fan

Lead foot, cast iron draw
Neuro-surgeons tend the bored
At paranoia’s poison door
Twenty first century schizoid fan.

Load of cack, playing dire
Atmosphere like a funeral pyre
Innocence raped with no home fire
Twenty first century schizoid fan

Deathly dull, pay football’s greed
Fun starved children weep
Gifting needless points to Leeds
Twenty first century schizoid fan

With the usual for King Crimson

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Putting the 'i' into Crystal Palace

After the famous Chrystal Palace spelling cock-up, David London now finds another interpretation of our famous name, this time courtesy of the Moscow branch of the Palace suporters' club... hang on, Moscow branch? What Moscow branch?'

Just as we were about to be thrust into our most recent season of top flight misery, the media had another good old laugh at 'joke Premiership club' Palace, when some fool cocked up the replica shirts, by spelling the club name as 'Chrystal' Palace. Never mind that it was a tiny logo that needed a magnifying glass to read and would be tucked into shorts anyway, the media had their story.

Anyway, if you thought those days were behind us, fear not - no I'm not talking about the dodgy grammar in Simon Jordan's latest programme column, or even the latest club calendar or club shop catalogue (although you can get a 'best whishes' card apparently).

No, this one cannot be blamed on the club - but a tiny outpost of misguided Palace fans - for some reason our club has been adopted by some Moscow based fans, however their efforts at creating their first commemorative pin badge have gone a bit wrong. Whoever placed the order at the badge makers must have placed the order over the phone!

A little respect

I try to discover
A little something to make me sweeter
Oh Selhurst, refrain
From breaking my heart

I’m Palace thru & thru’
I’ll be forever red & blue
But there's just no pleasin'
You, tho' I work so hard

So I scored you a,
So I scored you a,
So I scored you a,
So I scored you a Goal,
Despite your cat-calling

Oh Selhurst, please
Give a little respect
To me...

Monday, March 12, 2007

Ho hum

Just two defeats in 14 and yet there’s so little to feel inspired about in this Palace team. The statisics suggest that it’s a side that’s progressing, it has clearly become a side that is hard to beat and that can comfortably overcome many of the weaker teams in this league, and by golly there are some really weak teams, not least Leicester City.

But the mood all around remains a mixture of weary resignation and confusion about whether we are genuinely moving forward. Although there’s still just an outside chance of making the play-offs, this is unlikely, we’re running out of games and cannot afford any slip up while the clubs ahead of us still have a significant points advantage. And on top of this, we simply don’t look like a top team, we don’t play like one, we don’t appear to possess any real quality.

What is it with Palace at the moment? Once again we’re left thinking that ‘a win is a win’ and once again we made our way home without having been particularly entertained. Even Peter Taylor’s programme notes, week in week out, seem to repeat the mantra ‘we didn’t play as well as we are capable’. We never do. The football is just plain boring and Ben Watson’s well taken penalty put a gloss on a result that otherwise was little more than functional – and that was one oof our bettter performances.

As for the opposition… how in the name of something or other, were Leicester unbeaten in six matches? They were complete rubbish and couldn't do the basics, an entire team without a first touch and how many times did they just gormlessly put the ball out of play? I said to my mate they must spend training sessions practising apologising to each other.

Although Leicester made our plodding ordinariness look positively Brazilian at times, we still didn’t take the game to them and for a long period in the second half we seemed content to sit back and settle for what we had which, given that they were ripe for a hammering, was grimly uninspiring.

Decent-ish games were had by all, but nothing outstanding. And nobody did anything beyond the merely acceptable, no-one in this team ever produces smehting with verve or imagination, nothing that sets the pulses racing. There isn’t a player to heighten the anticipation when he gets the ball. This is conservative football (with a small ‘c’), it’s functional, relatively effective and tedious. Dress it up in any way you want – we won, we’re getting better, we’re hard to beat. We get results, and for some people only winning matters, but we’re pretty much unwatchable at the moment.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Gerry Francis: the Opera

First impressions – an Eagle Eye editorial, March 1, 2007

Last month this column concluded with a few thoughts about the wider problems faced by football clubs outside the elite super-club bracket i.e. all but three of them, or four if you want to further delude Liverpool into thinking that they have somehow kept up.

The rest of the premiership and the bulk of the championship now form a rump of large to medium sized clubs for whom opportunities to develop, grow and be successful have all but disappeared. This has been staring us in the face ever since the Premiership was introduced, but suddenly internet message boards around the country seem to be buzzing with the sound of disillusionment.

To cover all of football’s ills in one article would be impossible but there are a few examples that we feel illustrate the sorry state that the sport now finds itself in. We’ll say right from the start that we believe that football should be a sport first and foremost and we are well aware that that is at odds with the prevailing attitude of just about everybody in this country, even many fans.

Football as a competitive sport at the top level is dying. We don’t want to sound like old gits harking back to the days when Ipswich or Southampton could win the cup or end up in a futile debate about whether Henry and Rooney are better than Peter Osgood and George Best, that’s not the point. The problem for many football fans is that there’s increasingly no point in attending. Our clubs can’t possibly win; players, managers and chairmen are distanced from supporters and the whole sport is in thrall to a ravenous media that feed the demands of a handful of rich men running the sport as their own personal fiefdom regardless of what the game’s governing bodies might think.

The role of the Football Association, as the game’s supposed guardian, is feeble and undemocratic. It has cowered before the big clubs for so long that the whole sport is being undermined and the national team is in danger of becoming an irrelevance.

We have reached a point where so vast are the squads belonging to the big four that they can afford to keep international players in waiting, such as Shaun Wright-Phillips, just for the occasional appearance (he was in many people’s view bought solely to prevent another club from having him). Clubs like Arsenal can field second XI teams filled with internationals for league cup games only and can fill the championship with loan players, all of whom contribute to a distortion of fair competition. They have even been known to field under strength teams in league games, regardless of how this might distort competition for European places or the relegation battle.

The result is that an increasing number of supporters couldn’t give a toss anymore. It’s not just at Palace that you hear people talking about walking away. What’s the point of a sport with no competition?

If at Palace we were now to build our finest team since the late 70s or early 90s, how long would we be able to hold it together? Many are talking about youngsters such as Victor Moses, John Bostock (who at 14 was being linked with approaches from Old Trafford and Barcelona) and James Dayton. If they do realise their potential we might get £10m for them, like Southampton did with Theo Walcott, but the chances are that Palace fans won’t get to enjoy them play for very long.

There’s a feeling among long-term supporters that they don't even particularly like football anymore. High ticket prices to watch disinterested ‘superstars’ who earn more in a month than many of us will earn in a decade has produced a miserably negative perception of the game. It’s no longer about eleven against eleven, it’s about hundreds of millions (of pounds) against teams that have virtually nothing.

While we can all see this happening, it is very difficult to do anything about it. A Leeds United supporter recently posting on one of his team’s forums asked how fans had allowed this to happen to the game. More to the point how could we stop it? How could we prevent the hijacking of the game, the high ticket prices or Sky tv’s charges? If we don’t pay there are others who will.

Is there a revolution coming? Man Utd supporters recently boycotted buying programmes and pies at Fulham in protest at the £45 they were being charged to get in. It would be easy to mock, but this happens to them wherever they go because they are the ultimate ‘category A’ game. If they stop going it will have no effect because others will take their place but at lower levels there isn’t anyone to replace those thinking of staying away from a club like Palace – if fans don’t turn up it just makes the problem worse.

Regular supporters who go to the games are more disenfranchised than ever. Witness the recent decision by the BBC to screen the Plymouth v Watford FA Cup quarter-final at 6pm on a Sunday evening. That has everything to do with what television wants and screw the people who follow Watford week in week out, because they don’t matter. All that does matter is money, money and more money.

Our only recourse, and a couple of us are having a think about how we might do this, is to appeal to the government. In most industries, such as energy, the media and many others there are regulators empowered to ensure that markets remain fair and open to competition and that consumers’ interests are protected. So why not in football? Why should four clubs and one broadcaster in particular have such a stranglehold on the national game, our game?

Football has a major cultural and social role to play that is in the national interest. The self-interest of people such as Roman Abramovich, David Dein, Peter Kenyon, Arsene Wenger, Alex Ferguson, Malcolm Glaser and those who run the FA Premier League is counter to that, it has gone too far.