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Cannon: I Tried To Treat It As A Normal Game

2 November 2014


The club has experienced some truly special nights under the lights at Selhurst but for supporters of a certain age there is one game that stands out from the rest.


On Friday May 11th 1979 Crystal Palace faced Burnley in the final game of the season and almost 52,000 packed into the stadium (terraces as well as stands in those days) with one dream in mind; to see The Eagles win promotion to the top flight.


With 660 Palace appearances to his name and ten years as skipper, Jim Cannon enjoyed many special nights at Selhurst but mention that particular evening in SE25 and the memories come flooding back.


“We knew what was needed, a point would see the club promoted and the stadium filled up very early. Everyone knows how many were at the game but the amazing thing was how early the fans arrived, each supporter coming through the turnstiles were excited and the players were no different.


“I just tried to treat it as a normal game in my preparation but it wasn’t easy, not only because of what was at stake but also because the game was on a Friday night due to the FA Cup Final being played at Wembley on the Saturday so that didn't seem right either."


It’s fair to say that those Palace fans that were at the game may struggle to remember how they spent their day preparing for the big event over 30 years ago but Jim remembers the special pre-match routine as if it happened yesterday.  


“From when I woke up in the morning I just wanted the game to start as everyone was talking about it so it was one of the matches that, as a player, it was just a case of keeping yourself busy until the game.


“I remember in those days we normally reported to Selhurst Park about an hour and a half before kick-off for a home game but on that day to help the lads with nerves we were booked into a local hotel to have a bit of lunch and relax because he knew some of the lads would need different preparation because of what was at stake.”


Selhurst under lights has always had a special feeling and whether it is a Monday night nail-biter against Sunderland in 2014 or a Friday night title decider back in 1979 it still makes your heart beat that little bit quicker.


“When I arrived at the stadium and had a look around the place it was just full of noise and optimism even though we were still a couple of hours from kick-off. The crowd arrived in the early evening but by the time the game got going the lights were on and as a player all you could hear was the wall of noise that just didn’t stop.    


“As for the match we had been doing so well and personally went into the game in an optimistic mood. We were always confident of beating Burnley and once Ian Walsh got the opening goal I knew we weren’t going to lose and after the second goal everyone, on and off the pitch, were able to enjoy it and take the occasion in a bit more.”


The next special Selhurst night is tonight when we entertain Sunderland; kick-off 8pm so CLICK HERE to purchase your ticket and don't miss out.





Photographs courtesy of Hy Money. 


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