A 2-0 victory against Brighton was the perfect present for all Palace supporters on Boxing Day in 1986, the goals coming from Alan Irvine and Phil Barber.
Barber, wearing the number eleven shirt that day, remembers the win against our south-coast rivals.
“The team were on a good run at the time, that victory saw us keep a clean sheet and also meant we had won our fourth game in five so we were on a decent run at the time. From a personal point of view it was good to get a goal and as you can imagine that result was special when it’s against Brighton. Alan Irvine got the other one so the wingers did their bit for the team that day.”
Phil looks back on those years as a period of change for the club.
“It was difficult, I was signed by Alan Mullery but in 1984 it wasn't getting regular games but once I got the chance, I started as a striker but he converted me into a left sided midfield player, I got a good run in the side. “wasn't long before Steve Coppell took charge and to be honest I
That Boxing Day match brings back memories of what it was like for a professional footballer at Christmas time.
“I can remember training Christmas Day, sometimes later in the day so we could have some time with the family, followed by matches taking place on Boxing Day and then another one again soon after. One year we played Ipswich Town on the Boxing Day, that was a Friday, and then the next day we played Leicester and drew 4-4. Nowadays it is a couple of days break between games but as that instance shows it was a quicker turn around in those days.
“We didn’t have the big squads like some clubs have now so you could end up most players being involved in four games across seven days”.
This year we have games against Southampton and Queens Park Rangers and those two games bring back memories of local derby games for the festive period in Phil's playing days.
“It was always great for the fans because either at Christmas or New Year we would be playing Brighton or Millwall. Not only did those type of games produce a great atmosphere and add an edge to the match but the supporters also didn’t have to travel that far.”
Phil still lives locally and takes a keen interest in the club’s fortunes and is hoping that Premier League status can be maintained once again.
“I still keep right up to date with what’s happening at the club and get to some games when I can. The run of results may not be the greatest at the moment but I think if we can survive this season then we’ve got a good chance of laying the foundations for a long-term stay in this league. After surviving last May it is fact that this year was going to be just as or even tougher and I am sure with everyone pulling in the right direction and getting on a decent a run of results the club can stay in The Premier League.”