Crystal Palace Football Club
Crystal Palace has one of the most colourful histories in English football. Numerous managers have been appointed to the club since its foundation, with many returning two or three times. The club has yo-yoed up and down the divisions, being relegated or moved up every few years. However, it has also been home to many names synonymous with football, including Eric Cantona, Gareth Southgate, Ian Wright and Terry Venables. The club began its history towards the bottom divisions, but in recent years they have seen some of their best form.
The Early Years
The Crystal Palace Football Club was formed in 1901, by the workers at Crystal Palace. It was in no way related to the Crystal Palace FC that was formed some forty years earlier, which was an amateur team made up of the ground keepers of The Great Exhibition. All home games were played by this later club in the grounds of Crystal Palace. Edmund Goodman, who was originally an amateur player for Aston Villa, had a great deal of input into the foundation of the club. Goodman later, in 1907, became manager of the club, until 1925 when a blow to the knee caused him to lose his leg. The first official manager of Crystal Palace was John Robson, who had previously been at the helm at Middlesbrough. Under his leadership the club applied to join the Second Division of the Football League along with two other London clubs, Chelsea and Clapton Orient. Unfortunately these two clubs were accepted but Crystal Palace was not, and they were also too late to be considered for the First Division of The Southern League, causing them to settle for Second Division instead. In an attempt to raise their number of fixtures, the club also joined the United Counties League, in which Robson managed to lead them to the First Division in their first season.
Their opening Southern League match was against Southampton Reserves, and after thirty minutes things were looking good for Crystal Palace, leading 3-0. However, the second half did not live up to the success of the first, and they ended up losing the game 3-4. Luckily this was the only defeat they were to have that season, which included a record defeat against West Beckenham (17-2), and they managed to win the Division Championship awarding them a place in the First Division. Their first game in this division was a win against Northampton, but this type of performance did not continue into the rest of the season and they only managed two wins in their next ten games. Their performance slightly improved enabling them to reach the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, which their opposing team, Everton, walked away from as winners.
When Robson took over in 1907, the club had a reasonably good season, finishing fourth in the Southern League and getting to the third round of the FA Cup. The following season was not a good one for them in the Southern League, finishing a dismal sixteenth. They shone in the FA Cup, although they were kicked out in the second round to Burnley, 0-9, a record defeat. Things remained glum for the club for the next couple of seasons. One of the highlights of this time, though, was the signing of Ted Smith to the club in 1911. In his first couple of games he managed to score three hat-tricks, but unfortunately did not lead the club to much success. In 1912 Crystal Palace also managed to beat Southampton, by an incredible 8-0. The same year they also won the London Challenge Cup, beating Fulham, Spurs, Croydon Common, and, in the final, West Ham United.
A New Home
In 1915 the Admiralty took over the club’s home, Crystal Palace, to be used as part of the war effort, and the team therefore had to find themselves a new ground. At the time this was thought to only be a temporary measure, but they never returned to the home from which they had taken their name. Two offers of ground-shares were suggested to them, one at Millwall Athletic and the other at Croydon Common, but the team decided to move to Herne Hill, which was close to Millwall’s grounds.
The first game they played there was against Northampton Town, with the teams drawing 1-1. Their next game was not as successful though, being thrashed by Croydon Common 5-1. However, after this game Croydon Common went into liquidation, so Crystal Palace took up their old home,The Nest, opposite Selhurst Station. They also managed to win their first game on this new home ground, which was against Queens Park Rovers, 4-2. However, they finished the season unsuccessfully, not managing a win in their last nine games which left them seventh in the league.
After the war, the club made a number of new signings, including Jimmy Hughes, Ernie Rhodes, Ben Bateman, Ted Smith and Albert Feebury. This improved their form slightly in 1919/1920, including a streak of wins in December and January. They only lost four times after this, which left them a respectable third at the end of the season: the highest position they had occupied for a long time. They managed to reach the semi-finals of the FA Cup, but lost to Newcastle United, 2-0, in front of a crowd of 15,000.
A New Division
In 1920 the Football Association decided to make the Southern League into the Third Division of the Football League, which gave Crystal Palace automatic entry. During their last season in the Southern League they had signed Tommy Storey, J.T Jones and Roy McCracken. Their first season in the Football League did not get off to a tremendous start, however, but they managed to improve their performance to give a run of six consecutive wins. Their goalkeeper at the time, Jack Alderson, also achieved a record by managing to keep a clean sheet in these six games.
They only lost six games the whole season, and managed a winning streak for their last sixteen games, helping them to win the Championship from Southampton and move up to the Second Division. The following season Division Two was split into a ‘North’ and ‘South’ divide, that continued until 1958. Crystal Palace could not maintain their good form from the season before, and their entry into the Second Division was not a good one, with them finishing in fourteenth place.
The FA Cup, however, was a highlight for them. They were drawn against Everton, currently in the First Division, but Crystal Palace managed against all odds to win, 6-0. The next game was against Millwall, who were in the division below Crystal Palace at the time. They initially drew 0-0 then lost the replay, 0-2. Crystal Palace also signed Albert Harry this season, but his performance did not do them any favours with them starting the following season by losing fourteen of their games. However, they improved slightly after this and managed to pull themselves up from bottom to sixteenth place at the end of the season. Their goalkeeper, Jack Anderson, was also called up to play for England which was a great achievement for the club. In 1923 they made some new signings, including Frank ‘Tom’ Hoddinott from Chelsea and Jimmy Hamilton. The same season also saw one of their greatest highlights when they beat First Division Tottenham Hotspur in front of a crowd of 20,000.
A New Home
On January 3, 1922 Crystal Palace bought the ground at Selhurst for £2,750. Archibald Leith, an architect who had worked on other grounds such as Stamford Bridge and White Hart Lane, was commissioned to design and produce Selhurst Park. Work on this was slightly delayed, but the Park was opened by the Mayor of London on the 30th August 1924, the first day of the 1924/1925 season. Crystal Palace played their opening game at the new ground to a crowd of 25,000 against Sheffield Wednesday.
Jack Anderson had recently left the club due to a pay dispute, so it was no surprise that the team lost 0-1. They managed, however, to restore their performance, even reaching fifth place by the middle of the season. However, things took a huge turn for the worse with them finishing the season in twenty-first place, causing them to be relegated alongside Coventry City. This was a new position that Crystal Palace were to retain for the next forty years.
Palace remained high in their new division for the next couple of years, but did not have any outstanding play. The only memorable event of these few seasons was the signing of Peter Simpson. Although he only stayed with the club for five years, when he left in 1935 his statistics included 135 goals in the 195 appearances he had made for the club, which is still a record today.
They remained in Division Three until 1958 when they were relegated to Division Four for two years. In 1961 Crystal Palace had a further international recognition when Jonny Bryne was called up to play for England. This raised his profile with other club managers, and eventually he was bought by West Ham United in 1962 for £65,000, which was a record fee at the time. Palace’s performance steadily improved, so that in 1964 they were moved back up to Division Two.
For the next few years they ended either seventh or eleventh, but in 1969 they finished a record second place which moved them up to Division One for the first time in their history. They managed to stay in this division for the next four years, until 1971 when they were relegated back down to Division Two. The same season Malcolm Allison was appointed manager of the club, and he immediately signed Jim Cannon who turned out to be one of Palace’s longest running players, staying with the club for sixteen years and making 660 appearances.
The Allison Years
Allison brought a new image to the club, which had always been seen as rather conservative. His flamboyant personality was reflected in the changes made to the team’s colours, and they changed their nickname from The Glaziers to The Eagles. Although the club was in the Second Division, it was one of the strongest teams and ‘Big Mal’ guaranteed that they would not remain there for long.
Palace were also helped by the changes brought in by the Football Association, which meant that three teams were moved up or down each season rather than two. Ironically this actually meant that in their first season with Allison as manager, they were actually relegated to Third Division, thus fulfilling his prophecy!
The next season they remained in the Third Division, but Allison signed some new players including Terry Venables and Ian Evans. The 1975/1976 season saw them reach the quarter-finals of the FA Cup for only the second time in their history, which they won, gaining entry into the semi-final for the first time ever, against Southampton. Unfortunately they were beaten 2-0, meaning the final would not see a club from outside the First Division.
Too Many Mangers
In 1976 Allison was replaced by Terry Venables, who had been acting as his assistant for a few years. In his first season as manager, the club managed to reach third position by the skin of their teeth, causing them to be moved back up to Second Division. The following season they consolidated their place in the Second Division by finishing eighth.
The performance improved even further throughout the following season, and after a win against their rivals, Brighton, they were moved up to Division One, after a six year absence. The team remained in this position for the next few seasons, until Venables left in 1981. He was initially replaced by Ernie Walley, but Allison was also brought in to occupy a joint managerial position. Walley objected to this and quit the club, leaving Allison in charge once more. However, with Venables gone and Allison back in charge, the team was reduced back to their old form, and were relegated after just the first season.
When Ron Noades was appointed chairman of the club, he immediately sacked Allison and replaced him with Dario Gradi. Gradi could not restore them back to the First Division, and it seemed as though he was struggling to maintain their top place in the Second Division. Gradi left the club and there was a string of managers who all stayed with the club for short periods, the shortest being Dave Bassett who only stayed four days before returning to his previous position at Wimbledon.
A New Era
In 1985 Noades appointed Steve Coppell as manager, which was a shock to the rest of the football world as he was only 29 years old. The two worked together to try and restore the club which had been neglected since the beginning of the decade. By 1989 they had managed to reach the top flight once more, and finished fifteenth place at the end of their first season there.
The same year history was made as Crystal Palace managed to reach their first ever FA Cup Final, which they drew 3-3 to Manchester United. Playing for the team were names such as Ian Wright, Andy Gray, John Salako and Nigel Martyn, who became the first £1 Million goalkeeper in Britain that same season. Success continued into the next season and they managed to finish third in the division, which was a club best. In 1992 the FA Premier League was established, with Crystal Palace as founding members. Unfortunately the same season they were relegated, which caused Coppell to resign and hand over to his assistant, Alan Smith.
Smith turned out to be an excellent manager and instantly got the team moved back up to the First Division. The tables were soon turned though and the following season Crystal Palace were relegated again, causing Smith to be sacked and Coppell to be appointed again. He sold a number of their key players, including Gareth Southgate, Eric Young and John Salako, which took its toll on their performance. Coppell was dismissed after only seven months and Dave Bassett came back to the club. This time he managed to improve the team greatly, before repeating his last trick of abruptly leaving the club.
Third Time Lucky
Incredibly Coppell was asked to return after Bassett left, and he brought the team back up to the Premiership Division. One of Coppell’s best signings was Attilio Lombardo, whom many fans still think is the greatest player to appear for Crystal Palace. Their place in the Premiership Division was only secure for one season, and they were soon relegated back down to First. The same year Noades also left the club, to be replaced by Mark Goldberg.
Goldberg had great ambitions for Crystal Palace, which he hoped to achieve by appointing Steve Coppell as Director of Football and Terry Venables as Head Coach. But this dream was short lived and the club experienced great financial difficulties, which resulted in them going into administration in 1999. Venables quit, giving Coppell yet another chance to manage the team, who were almost relegated at the end of the 1999/2000 season.
The Start of A New Millennium
In 2000 the club was bought by Simon Jordon, solving its monetary problems. He placed Alan Smith back in charge but when relegation to Division Two was looking imminent for the team, Smith was sacked and temporary managers were in position until 2002 when Steve Bruce returned.
Although Bruce managed to put the team in a good position, he walked out after four months and joined Birmingham instead. Trevor Francis temporarily took the managerial position, which led to Crystal Palace occupying a comfortable mid-position in the Division One table. During his time he made two great signings: Clinton Morrison and Andrew Johnson, who helped move the team back up into the Premier position under the guidance of new manager Steve Kember. When the team’s performance wavered slightly Kember was sacked, and later replaced by Ian Dowie in 2003.
Dowie did a great job for the club, and managed to maintain their position in the Premier Division for the first couple of years he was in charge. However, in 2005 they were relegated once more and Dowie left the club. Peter Taylor got the job in 2006, and although he did not prove to be one of the best managers Crystal Palace had ever had, Jordan appeared happy to leave him in the position. However, on the 11th October, 2007 Neil Warnock was brought in to take over as manager, to try to recreate some of the old glory previously experienced by Crystal Palace.