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CPFC110 Moments: Wembley Memories

16 September 2015


Crystal Palace Football Club was founded on 10th September 1905. To celebrate last week's 110 year anniversary, we will be reliving a key moment from the club's history each day until Sunday, continuing today with the Eagles' trips to Wembley.

Over the years, Palace have had their fair share of trips to Wembley Stadium, to the point where it became almost a home away from home for the Eagles in the 1990s! The FA Cup final - and replay - along with the Zenith Data Systems triumph and a couple of Play-Off final appearances thrown in have seen the Eagles compete at the iconic stadium on a number of occasions over the last few decades.

Below we have reflected on a handful of the Eagles' most memorable trips to the home of English football.

FA Cup Final, 1990


One of the most memorable visits to Wembley came during the club's glory days under the management of Steve Coppell.

The Eagles charged through the rounds of the competition before seeing off First Division giants Liverpool after extra time in the semi final at Villa Park - in what is widely considered one of the club's biggest ever victories - and booked a place in the final.

Sir Alex Ferguson and Manchester United waited for Coppell and Co. at Wembley, with the Eagles taking the game to the Red Devils. Gary O'Reilly gave Palace the lead, but United fought back through Bryan Robson and Mark Hughes, with the latter's goal putting the opposition 2-1 ahead on 62 minutes.

Ian Wright entered the action and had a near-immediate impact, despite still not being fully fit and having missed the Liverpool semi final. The striker bagged a superb solo goal to level the scores and take the game to extra time, before hitting a brilliant second to put Palace ahead.

A gut-wrenching late Hughes equaliser denied Palace the silverware and the final went to a replay, which - again at Wembley - the Eagles lost, narrowly, 1-0 to Ferguson's men.

Zenith Data Systems Cup Final, 1991


A year after the FA Cup heartbreak, the Eagles had their hands on a piece of silverware. The ZDS (or Full Members) Cup - a tournament for English clubs during the years excluded from European competition - saw Palace and Everton meet in the final at Wembley in 1991.

As is becoming a theme, the final went to extra time, with neither side able to force a winner inside 90 minutes. Captain Geoff Thomas had scored for Palace, whilst the Toffees' equaliser had come through Robert Warzycha two minutes later.

Ian Wright was decisive in the extra period, scoring a brace either side of a goal from young winger John Salako, to put Palace 4-1 up and secure the trophy for Steve Coppell's men.

Play-Off Final, 1997


"David Hopkin... Looking to curl one!" One of the most memorable lines of commentary in Palace's recent history. With the game against Sheffield United tied, and extra time looking like a certainty, the Eagles one a corner.

Simon Rodger's cross was headed clear by the Blades' Carl Tiller, but only as far as Palace's David Hopkin. The midfielder took a touch, looked up and curled a powerful effort into the far top right corner, deciding the play-off final with seconds left to play.

Play-Off Final, 2013


Palace's most recent visit to Wembley came in 2013, following a rollercoaster Championship campaign which saw Dougie Freedman leave for the manager's job at Bolton Wanderers, the Eagles top the table in the English second tier and a dramatic play-off semi final against rivals Brighton & Hove Albion.

The second leg of the semi final had been euphoric, with Brighton being the favourites to progress before kick off. Palace arrived and ended their Premier League aspirations through a clinical Wilfried Zaha brace and world class goalkeeping from Julian Speroni, booking the Eagles' place at Wembley against Watford.

At the end of regulation time, neither side had scored, though both had had a host of opportunities. Extraordinary goalkeeping from Speroni once again and the injury-induced-absence of 31-goal striker Glenn Murray meant that Palace didn't concede, but also didn't score during the 90 minutes.

Zaha, the outfield hero of the semi final, won a late penalty, which received the Kevin Phillips net-buster treatment to leave Manuel Almunia with no chance. Palace won 1-0, were in the top-flight and haven't looked back since!

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