Palace players had an afternoon to remember, as several members of the squad visited children at Croydon University Hospital.
Bearing gifts and giving plenty of hugs, the players showed a softer side to their match-day demeanour, and were clearly moved by the circumstances of those receiving treatment in the hospital.
Club captain Mile Jedinak said: “It was a good opportunity to meet people in the community, especially those working in a hospital. To see the staff’s reaction, and the way the parents and some of the kids responded to us being here was really humbling.”
Walking around the hospital, there were a number of Palace fans amongst the parents who were there with their children, and Chief Executive John Goulston said the visit had also done wonders for staff morale.
“Crystal Palace is the local club so inevitably there are a lot of people here who are fans, and who know the club well. In this day and age, for a child to be an inpatient at a hospital they have to very ill, so for the children and the parents it really lifts their spirits, and you could see from the staff’s reaction how much it meant to them too.”
Visiting the children's ward was particularly poignant for some of the senior players, and Jedinak admired the strength in character of the parents who remain upbeat despite facing such testing situations.
“We spent some time in the special care unit for premature babies where we spoke to a few of the parents. They all knew who we were and you could see the whole room lit up when we came in which was nice. They’re obviously going through trying times with their little ones but you wouldn’t know it by the way they make what can seem an uncomfortable situation very comfortable, and it just goes to show what sort of people they are.”
The visit was one of several community engagements which the club have been involved in over the Christmas period. Players in attendance at the hospital also included Scott Dann, Brede Hangeland, Adrian Mariappa, Kwesi Appiah and Kleton Perntreou.