We bring you the views of Steve Parish on the eve of the new season that he has written for today's match programme.
Before we look at the season ahead, I must pass on some sad news that we have lost Dave Phillips, a long-serving employee of the club.
Dave passed away suddenly on his way to the Fulham friendly last weekend, and was an incredibly popular person at the training ground who was always positive; offering a smile and a firm handshake whenever I saw him. We have all been saddened by his passing and our deepest condolences go out to his family and friends at this time.
The excitement ahead of the new campaign really begins today and it is great that we have been able to attract such a high-quality Spanish team to travel to south London, and I am pleased to welcome Valencia’s directors, management, players and fans to SE25. Alan wanted a stern test a week away from the big kick-off and I’m sure they will give us that.
The last time many of you would have seen us in action would have been at Wembley in the FA Cup final back in May. It was a wonderful occasion to be a part of, and while I’m sure like me you still feel down about the result, I am tremendously proud of the way you represented your area and supported the team. The vast majority of you applauding both sets of players at the final whistle showed we know how to lose graciously as well as win, and of course Alan and I hope more than anything that one day we will deliver the major trophy this club deserves.
Since then it has been a busy pre-season for us on and off the pitch, and I was delighted that we were able to bring in Andros Townsend, Steve Mandanda and James Tomkins relatively early in the window. It was good to see some of them on show during our tour of the USA and Canada last month and I was overwhelmed by the amount of Palace fans who came to watch us in Philadelphia, Cincinnati and Vancouver.
It was brilliant to mingle with them and hear the stories of how they came to support us, and hopefully we have made many more new friends on that side of the Atlantic. I’m sure we will be back over there soon.
Meanwhile work has continued at Selhurst Park to try and improve your matchday experience, and hopefully you will have noticed an improved entry system as you passed through the turnstiles. Season ticket holders can also now pay for food and beverages at outlets around the stadium using our simple e-wallet facility.
As the months progress you will also be able to enjoy better quality audio through a new sound system and added screens in the concourses, plus new floodlights will provide better pitch lighting for less energy and are capable of pre and post-match lighting shows.
There have been plenty of changes since we were last here, but one thing I know will stay the same will be your boisterous support, and I can’t wait to hear the famous chants ring out once again today.
Up The Palace!