From the Stands is a new weekly fan blog we're launching on the website. Here, our fan blogger introduces himself, shares his favourite Palace memories and looks ahead.
Name: Simon Mills
First Palace memories: I can't remember my first Palace match as I wasn't old enough to remember it! I do, however, have vague memories of the likes of Wright, Bright, Martyn and Eric 'the Ninja' Young. Two games that do stick in my head when I was younger, however, are the play-off finals vs. Leicester City (Claridge shin - still hurts) and a much nicer memory vs. Sheffield United the year after (Hopkin looking to curl one!).
Favourite all-time player: Nigel Martyn - my absolute hero growing up!
Favourite match: That's a very tough one! So many great memories of matches; Brighton in the play-offs, United away in the cup (Ambrose screamer) but what stands out not just for the game itself but for the way the season seemed to lead all the way up to it (it felt like fate) was our play-off win in Cardiff against West Ham. We had come from nowhere, with no expectations - the opposite for West Ham. I can still vividly remember jumping around like a madman at the full-time whistle.
Season Ticket Seat: Block J (Family area) of the Main Stand.
As we enter the second international break of the season, it seems a perfect time to reflect on where we are after our first eight games, sitting 4th in the table and through to the final 16 in the League Cup. In our first eight games, our record has been simply fantastic – we've won five and lost just three, which is even more impressive considering four of the matches were against Arsenal, Chelsea, Man City and Tottenham.
It’s certainly been a brilliant start to the season and results haven’t been the only reason for Palace fans to feel optimistic.
It all started with the arrival of Yohan Cabaye, of course, and what a signing he has been so far. James McArthur has improved masively playing alongside him, whilst Wilfried Zaha and Yannick Bolasie have also benefited, particularly as demonstrated against West Brom, from the sensational pinpoint deliveries Yohan can pick out. He's scored three goals and contributed an assist, but his performances are just part of the massive influence he has on the club.
It’s not just what he delivers on the pitch that has had such an impact, but what his signing says about the football club as a whole. It sends out a message to the football world (as well as our own players) that we want to push on, continue to grow and be successful. As a result, Palace is a club where even our best players now want to stay and be a part of it.
James McArthur and Scott Dann were the first to do so; after reported interest from elsewhere, both were happy to pledge their futures to the club. More recently of course, Yannick put pen to paper, despite the constant speculation in the press. It’s not just what it means to be securing the future of our top stars from a playing point of view. It demonstrates that Palace has become one of the bigger clubs in the league. We are here to make a big impression – and that we certainly are.
The other major factor in Palace’s meteoric rise over the last year has, of course, been down to ‘Super’ Alan Pardew. One must wonder just what the supporters at his former club must be really thinking deep down, seeing the man who they chased from the North-East leading the Eagles into the top four, while their own club languishes in the relegation zone without a single Premier League win this season.
One of the things that has impressed me the most about Pardew in his time so far is his ability to analyse different situations and adapt where necessary. In games he has often made adjustments to tactics he feels aren’t working and his handling of an out of form Zaha, who has since been on fire, demonstrates he can do this with players too.
Under Pardew, Crystal Palace have become a hard team to beat, no matter who we're playing and it's something which we haven't ever been in the Premier League before. It's refreshing. It's exciting. Spirit in itself isn't enough on its own though, which is why it's so pleasing to see a much more organised team than the one that took the field a year ago.
There has been some discussion about Pardew’s recent comments that he wants to manage a ‘big club’ or lead his country. When you appoint a man who shares the club’s ideas it perhaps should not come as a shock that he shares the same level of ambition too. Is Pardew really saying anything we wouldn’t expect any other manager to think? Does anyone think Steve Coppell would have turned down a shot with United or England had it been offered when he was at Palace?
For now, let's enjoy the progress we are making and the top-class manager we have. The more successful Pardew is, the more successful we are as a club and if it gets to the point that he is offered one of the top jobs what he will have achieved at Palace will have been more than worth it.
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