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IAN WALSH

Ian Walsh

1978/79 RECORD: 33/8
FORWARD
APPEARANCES: 133

You were one of that FA Youth Cup-winning squad before the promotion season. What was it like joining the club at that age?

I came from Wales to London and it was something which I found daunting as a 15-year-old but it certainly helped that the majority of the group joined at the same time.

We went through the system at Palace together and the way it worked out was that we all got the move up to the first team at the same time which continued our progression and success into the senior level.

I don’t think there would be another club that looked after us so well as a young bunch of lads, we went into accommodation locally with Palace fans and my host family were fantastic and without that welcome it would have been difficult.

Your first team debut came in a game against Chester as an 18-year-old, tell us about that.

The manager told me the day before the match that I was selected and put the full team up on the wall just after the training session the morning before the game – that helped as we then had time to settle down and get ready for the game. Some who were nervous characters may have liked to be told nearer to the day of the game but at that age you are so naive to everything that all you want to do is play football.

What was it like under Terry Venables?

I have got massive respect for him; he hadn’t long finished playing and he was managing a group of young lads who were decent players and he worked at us being able to play well as a group together. As a team we were not a great goalscoring side but defensively we were fantastic and we had the knack of getting important results at the right times which kept the momentum going.

On that special night in May 1979 against Burnley you scored one of the goals to earn promotion, what is your memory of that night?

It was amazing before we even reached the stadium because we had stayed at a local hotel and it was so difficult to get to the ground because there were just so many people outside; the coach just about got us in! The sight when I walked onto the pitch for the first time was unbelievable, the atmosphere was incredible and to this day one of the best I have ever witnessed - I just don’t know how that many people got into the ground that night!

As for the goal, it was the best I have ever scored! It was an unbelievable header!

Soon after that promotion season you were given your international debut, how proud were you to earn that first Welsh cap?

It was against the Republic of Ireland and funnily enough that game I’m pretty sure also saw Jerry Murphy make his first start for the Republic .

To have the chance to go on was a feeling of immense pride and I know my family loved the chance to see me representing our country.

There were a few of us getting our international chance at that time and those honours came because of the success of Palace and I must say great credit to Terry Venables for leading us to that level so early in our careers.