In our latest away day 'From The Boardroom' Stephen Browett gives some memories of his visits to Stamford Bridge over the years.
My first visit to Stamford Bridge was the first away game that I ever went to on my own as a kid. It took place on a chilly afternoon in February 1976. Nearly 40 years on, and over a thousand matches later, it remains one of the greatest matches that I’ve ever seen. There were 54,407 in the stadium that day and on the terraces there was a great deal of what, in the 1970’s, we used to call “aggro” or “bovver”. No prawn sandwiches then. The atmosphere was electric, and a little bit frightening, but it was a day that I will never forget as we overcame massive odds to beat the Blues 3-2. In the list of great Palace cup games it was probably surpassed only by a certain match at Villa Park 14 years later.
and see just how good Peter Taylor was in that match – the Wilf of his day – and he soon became the first Palace player ever to play (and score) for England. A remarkable achievement when you consider that we were in the Third Division in those days playing away at places like Grimsby, Halifax and Wrexham.You TubeYounger fans should look up a clip on
Apart from happy memories of that amazing game in 1976 (we went on to reach the semi-final of the FA Cup that year), visits to Chelsea have never been particularly enjoyable for Palace fans. In the old days the stadium was nothing like it is today. There was a greyhound track round the pitch and the away fans were herded into pens behind the top curve. There was no roof, the view was terrible, it was always raining and we always lost. In fact, we’ve only won one league game at Stamford Bridge - ever. That was in 1982 when they made a rare visit down to join us in the Second Division.
Over the last 110 years (both clubs were founded in 1905) Palace have always been the poor relation from south of the river who have been the underdog every time that we’ve played them. However, I’d like to think that today we travel there with more than a little hope in our hearts as Super-Al has put together one of the best Palace teams that I have ever seen. We’ve started the season well (three wins out of four and a narrow defeat to Arsenal) and, since we’ve been back in the Premier League, all four games against them have been decided by the odd goal. That includes that great victory at Selhurst Park in March 2014 (although our scorer in that match is suspended today).
Whilst we may not be expected by the media to pick up any points today, I felt that we were unlucky not to at least draw at Chelsea last season. If we play as well this afternoon as did in May - and a bit of luck goes our way - then you never know what might happen. What’s for sure is that the 3000 Palace fans in the stadium will be loud and proud and if my kids get to experience a game like I saw in 1976, then we’ll all be heading back over the river with smiling faces this evening.