Firstly I would like to welcome the directors, management, players and fans of Swansea City to Selhurst Park this afternoon for our final game of the season.
With just 90 minutes remaining for us, now is a great time to take stock of all that has happened to this club over the past 10 months, including last weekend's brilliant display at Liverpool.
I was so proud of the players to go there and pull off a remarkable victory. All round it was a special day; Steven Gerrard was the main focus of the day, and rightly so because loyalty to a single club is a rare thing these days and it was a privilege to be in attendance for his last game at Anfield.
The day was made even more memorable as we achieved our first victory there for 24 years (with a certain Alan Pardew coming on as a sub that day). It really was a champagne performance and the Liverpool fans clapped our team off the pitch. I don’t think I have ever seen that in all the years watching football and their fans must take huge credit for that act of sportsmanship. The Palace fans were equally a credit to the game as they stayed behind to clap Steven’s speech and join in the farewells.
All in all it's been a fantastic season, the challenge for all of us is to do better next season but right now I hope today's game against Swansea is a real celebration of how far we have come in five years.
The Awards Night kicked off the end of season parties with a deserved winner in Scott Dann, although it was a tight vote and so many of the players this year could have also been a deserved winner. The new kits were also on show and they seemed to go down well. I’m pleased to say we have sold a record number of replica kits this year so hopefully these will do just as well.
I have many people to thank for their efforts in 2014/15. As well as those who beat Liverpool eight days ago, I have to thank the rest of the squad who have played their part in keeping this club in the Premier League once again. They have put in so much effort and desire to ensure our safety and it has been great to see them develop further at this level. I would especially like to thank Peter Ramage, Owen Garvan, Lewis Price, Stephen Dobbie and Jerome Thomas for their contributions while at the club and wish them well in the future. Peter, Stephen and Owen were especially important in our promotion season.
I also have to thank Alan Pardew, Keith Millen and the rest of the staff for masterminding our climb from the lower end of the table to where we are today. Alan has been a breath of fresh air since his arrival in January and fully deserves the plaudits that he is getting at the moment. I am really excited to be working with him throughout the summer to improve the squad with some new signings.
A special mention must also go to Neil Warnock who did a great job whilst he was here. He came in during a difficult time and helped steer the ship in the right direction, and picked up some big points for us at the start of the season. He had the club's best intentions at heart and whilst it didn't quite work out for him the way we would have wanted, he deserves plenty of credit.
And then there are our wonderful supporters. Your dedication to follow this club through thick and thin is admirable and we've given you good and bad times this season, but you've always stuck by us and hopefully now you are enjoying the ride once again. Your backing from the stands home and away has been tremendous and it really has spurred the players on to bigger and better things.
On Tuesday night we get the chance to pay tribute to one of the club's modern day legends. Julian Speroni will receive all the acclaim that he rightfully deserves for his 11 years of service here when he steps out onto Selhurst Park to take on Dundee in his testimonial. It should be a brilliant occasion and if you haven't yet got your ticket, make sure you do. A host of former Palace favourites will be in action and it will be a fitting tribute to our brilliant goalkeeper.
When the final whistle goes today it will draw a line under a fine season for us, but the slate will be quickly wiped clean. Rest assured we will be working hard all summer to improve and strengthen in all areas and we will need every one of you again as we aim to push up the league.
Until then have a great summer, remember it’s an early start next season as we’re back on 8th August for the first game, so get those holidays in early!