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1988/89 RECORD: 19/5

Firstly let me take you back to the summer before promotion and tell us about leaving Reading to be signed by Steve Coppell.

After coming back from America I had been at Reading for about six months and had played against Crystal Palace, scored and was pleased with how I had played. Come the end of that season the Royals had been relegated and wasn’t keen on dropping down a division, so I sent videos out of me in action with a covering letter to teams in south London and surrounding areas and Palace was the only club to come back to me.

Steve had seen me play in that game against his side and took me on loan for about a month and I then signed a two-year contract which I was delighted to be doing and was looking forward to being involved at a club which had showed its progression the seasons before that.

Unfortunately your Eagles career had a disappointing start due to injury, which must have so frustrating.

Each year since I had been at Arsenal in the mid-80s I needed work done on my knee, whether it was a clean out or an operation and I just couldn’t get on top of it.

From my first knee operation I did learn from the surgeon that it would be a case of being a continual problem and it was very frustrating. I always believed in my own ability so there was no fear of coming back into the side and thankfully my chance came along. 

You came back in a crucial stage of the season, there were 18 games left but you were part of the great finish to the season.

We were so lucky to have the front pair, Wrighty and Brighty, but also had others who contributed so well throughout the team and we were a group who were all round the same kind of age with a point to prove. There was absolutely no fear in the squad and whoever we played, even if we went a goal behind the feeling was that we could get back in the game.

My time at Palace was my best time in football in terms of being part of a team. I wouldn’t say we all stepped off the park and went out as a group of friends together but as soon as we stepped on the pitch everyone looked after each other.

The play-offs saw us coming from behind in both legs and tell us about the penalty in the final which put the pressure on you to help us through.  

We came back from the first-leg in both play-off games and no one was downhearted as we still had belief that we could turn the score around in front of our own fans.

As for the penalty, I would be the first to admit that I had taken a few bad penalties that had scrapped over the line but as soon as that was given I can honestly say I was as calm as anything. Steve Coppell always said to me take a long run up and hit it as hard as you can with the side of your foot and that was exactly what I did. I thought to myself I am either going to be the hero in the morning or the villain and luckily it turned out the right way.


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