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MARK LAZARUS

1968-69 RECORD: 41/11
MIDFIELDER
APPEARANCES: 70

You arrived at Palace in 1967, what were you weighing up when you made the move from QPR?

There were quite a few clubs interested in signing me at the time but I joined Palace because of Bert Head and geographically it was a better move for me. I thought the club I was joining could have the potential to be one of the biggest clubs in London and I knew they wanted me to be part of their club.

Looking back, whenever I played at Selhurst Park for an opposition team I would always be booed fanatically by the home support; they never liked me one bit! When I told my wife that I was going to sign for the club she turned to me and said: “you’re joking, they hate you at Crystal Palace”.  But in the end I want to place on record how pleased I was with how they treated me because they were absolutely wonderful.

What kind of contract were you handed by the club back then?

Because of the club’s interest to sign me there was an opportunity to negotiate a favourable signing-on fee, but at the back of my head I knew that if Palace had said they couldn’t get that figure for me I would have still signed for them because of my belief of where Bert Head could take the club.

Also included was a goal bonus if I was to go on and score 10 times in a season. I was fortunate that wherever I played I scored goals and that was no different at Palace. Head asked if I could guarantee him 10 goals and I felt I could, and out of that came the agreement to give me the incentive. I am pleased to say I delivered what he wanted!

On the topic of goals, can you elaborate on your energetic goal celebrations?

People always talk about me doing a lap of honour but I never did! All I used to do was run over to the front of the stand, where in those days there would have been a front row of supporters standing and give a bow and shake hands with some of them. I don’t know where the lap of honour story came from, but I know one thing - I didn’t have the energy to do that in the middle of a game at any part of my career!

You had reason to celebrate in the 3-2 win over Fulham that clinched promotion, what are your memories of that game?

We were two down but we got ourselves together in the dressing room at half-time and showed some team spirit. I scored the second goal to get us back on level terms and the other goals came from Stevie Kember and Cliff Jackson. Cliff was a little man and quite fragile, but he got many goals and it was fitting that as our leading scorer that year he was to seal promotion by getting the winner in that game.

What do you feel was the key reason you gained promotion that year?

It was a hard-working group of players and the dressing room was wonderful because we all got on well. There were no stars; if you went through the side it was a team of unknown players that Bert Head somehow made work and we all fought for one another.

The camaraderie at Crystal Palace went throughout the whole club, whether it was the players, the manager - who was a players’ man - or the chairman Arthur Wait. He made himself a friend to the players and was always around to share his time with the lads.

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