Crystal Palace FC vs NUFC at Selhurst Park  

Saturday 23 October 2021 – 3pm no legal UK TV  

First, a little ditty, which started to run around my head Sunday night:

There was a fat duffer called Bruce,
At management clearly no use.
He came to Newcastle,
Picked teams like an asshole,
With Mags calling out for a noose.  

He lost lots of games, did Wor Steve,
His selections were worse than naïve.
He drove fans insane,
Again and again,
And ruined our nights on the peeve.  

Then alang came a lass called Amanda,
With make-up, thick on, like a panda.
Had some rich pals from the East,
Gold for palms to be greased,
But worse human rights than Uganda.  

It took them years to buy the Toon,
As usual close to gannin’ doon,
We hope she’ll be the saviour,
So we’ll ignore bad behaviour,
Once big money on players is strewn.  

The first five minutes were great against Spurs,
New hope and the sleeping giant stirs?
But again, we lost the game,
No tactics, no plan, no brain,
It must end, as it’s been years and years.  

So this Saturday, we’re off to the Palace,
Against a team with which we’ve no malice.
Now things look juicy,
As we’ve got shot of Brucie:
The Cabbage Headed, simpering phallus.  

The Eagles are a mid-table team,
Something of which we just dream,
It ain’t happening overnight,
But we’ll get out of this plight,
Once we get a manager with an actual scheme.  

Regular readers of my old nonsense on here will know that I spent my youth growing up a 40 min walk from Selhurst Park, despite parents hailing from Fenham and Gateshead respectively.  They had been driven away (economically) from Tyneside for jobs and money, like the lads from Auf Weidershen Pet, but with computers, not hods and screw-drivers.  So I have a fading affinity with the horrible place called Croydon, being my home for my first 18 years of life (barring trips back north to visit grandparents and relatives).  For last 32 years of my life, I have instead been walking distance from the Gallowgate, another House of Pain, but which has slightly less swearing than my actual home did.

The tower blocks of The Cronx (as Croydon, Crystal Palace’s heartland, is colloquially known) were as bleak, foreign and desolate as any German building/bomb site, especially on Sundays in the 1970s, when everything was shut anyway (ask that old gadgie next to you).  The place is even worse now, the riots a few years back causing matches to be called off, and literally £10s of damage, with arson and a fatal shooting near Surrey Street Market where I used to play on the machines in the arcades (ask a middle-aged, bespectacled geek).

The close-knit, grotty terraces around Selhurst Park, the decrepit nature of the ground, the tight turnstiles, the wooden seats in the away end (wood – ask your DT teacher, it’s a natural substance what they make trees from) and the crap restricted views all take me back to the 1980s, when NUFC ‘away’ games in London were my ‘home’ games, with that crisp hint of violence in the air, everyone walking just a little bit quicker than normal, on your toes, eyes wide to avoid a snidey punch in the face.  It was ace: a proper match day, setting the heart racing (admittedly a little too much when it was Upton Park) and beats a coach to a flat-pack, out-of-town every time.

Palace are a decent enough outfit these days, on their longest run in the top-flight ever.  Mid-table, fair enough, but also actually capable of bloodying the noses of a top team once in a while.  I can’t recall them being in a relegation dogfight for a few years now.

They have a set of hardcore ‘ultra’ fans, dressed in black, in that bottom corner of the Holmesdale Road stand, which create a bit of a radge atmosphere.  The Eagles are unashamedly not a ‘big’ club, but so what – we’ve all seen what the big clubs want recently.  Zaha is the one to watch as usual, but they have some decent others as well notably: Connor Gallagher, on loan from Chelsea, and Serbian penalty-king Luka Milivojević.  Even Benteke scored on Monday – which is a run, for him.

Every game is now must win: NUFC cannot be set adrift, and requiring a miracle in January to save us.  We have to stay at least in touch with fourth bottom.

I was amazed SB was still in post until Wednesday, as his management is proven to be counter-productive to winning football matches.  He has no plan and he makes players worse.  Thank god he has now been peddled, I thought the new owners scored somewhat of an own goal by letting him make it to a ‘thousand’ games on their watch, as it clearly then dampened the early atmos against Spurs, and another winning position was let slip.  If anyone was crazy enough to make a highlights compilation of those games, I would suggest those 90,000+ minutes would not condense into a particularly long or enjoyable video (ask your uncle).

Re-writing this Wednesday, he IS gone by the time you read this, even if it is only with ‘Graeme & The Steves’ left ‘in charge’.  It could still be a trip with a new manager if we are quick, who might be able to select a team with a working formation and players in defined roles.  We need that BEFORE Christmas this year.  Please.

I’m going, so we’ll get beat, likely 2-1, but the ‘dead cat bounce effect’ might just gain a first win of the season.  I do not have a clue, but this is late October, FFS.  Dark times still, but there is light on the horizon from the glint of black gold and the banishment of the Corbridge Complainer.

LAST THOUGHT: To all those, like me, who kept your Season Ticket(s) on despite the pain, hassle, heartache and utter boredom: well done, we deserve this apparent change in fortune.  We’ve stuck with it for this terrible last 14+ years and now, hopefully, we’ll be rewarded, with goals and maybe even trophies? I just hope the good times start to roll soon, Saturday would be a very nice, and much needed start.

Castle Farm Mag