The Crystal Palace FC management and players have today been delighted to welcome Michael Wood and members of The Austin Eagles Crystal Palace FC Fan Club in Texas to our Beckenham Training Ground. Representatives of the group are over to take in Premier League action against Chelsea on Saturday but have enjoyed a behind the scenes tour of the training ground as they watched the players train and got a glimpse of how a club prepares for a top flight match.
This fan group is another example how the Palace family continues to spread across the world and the players were delighted to hear how the Eagles global appeal is getting stronger and stronger.
We asked Michael whilst he was at the training ground to tell us a little more about the Austin Eagles.
WHO ARE THE AUSTIN EAGLES?
You know that familiar scene in movies where a stranger walks into a bar and everything stops. The music grinds to a halt. The pool players cease mid shot. The barman looks up from his taps and casts the stranger a glare saying "who the hell are you and what are you doing in here". You know it well but you have probably never actually experienced this yourself. That is unless you are an Palace fan living in Texas, U.S.A. Wandering into an American sports bar wearing a Crystal Palace shirt provokes a wide range of reactions from other fans. Comments can vary from the moderately well informed "Well, well, I never thought I'd see the day" to the rather irritating "I didn't know Barcelona were playing today" to the insanely annoying "Crystal who?".
The Austin Eagles is a group of Crystal Palace F.C. fans living in Austin, Texas who like to stand out from the crowd and support the biggest soccer club in South London today. We meet at Fado Irish bar at 9am Saturday mornings to drink beer, eat blood sausage and cheer on our boys in red and blue. The club has grown steadily and now consists of around 30 members with more joining every week. Sadly for us, we are often outnumbered by Man U and Liverpool fans who also call Fado their home. Of course, I can't blame them for this as it would be foolish to call Manchester and Liverpool home as most of them have never actually been there. My dream is that one day the Austin Eagles' numbers swell so much that those red shirts are forced to relocate.
WHEN WERE THE AUSTIN EAGLES FORMED?
The Austin Eagles was formed just after Christmas 2014 mid way through the season. Up to that point I am sure you will remember that Crystal Palace were seriously struggling and looked favorites for relegation. Not entirely without coincidence, I would like to think, almost immediately after the formation of the Austin Eagles, Crystal Palace F.C. began their stunning comeback ending the season in the top half of Premier League. One loyal Austin Eagle created a chart to show this meteoric rise.
WHAT HAVE BEEN THE HIGHLIGHTS AND LOWLIGHTS OF LIFE AS AN AUSTIN EAGLE?
If you are a fan of Crystal Palace you will be very familiar with the constant highs and lows we have endured. Some people may say that we have not progressed much since our last promotion into the top flight. I would call those people glory supporters. We still hold onto our strong community roots and are proud to be the small club come good. We will always be more passionate than fans of other clubs and sing louder than them all. This feeling is echoed in Austin. The FA Cup Final was an excellent example of this. You could hardly move in Fado for the sea of Man U fans milling around waiting to watch their team in yet another final. But huddled front and center by the big screen shouting louder and prouder than those devils in red were the passionate Austin Eagles. Even after Lingard volleyed in their winner, the Austin Eagles didn't stop cheering. As the final whistle blew, one emotional Palace fan climbed on the stage right in front of the United hoard, dropped his trousers and slapped his backside while shouting "We still love you Palace, we do".
HOW CAN A FAN BECOME AN AUSTIN EAGLE?
Living in Austin would help. But we love to consider all Crystal Palace fans part of the our small family and would love to hear from each and every one of you so we can feel more connected with SE25. You can contact me, Michael Wood aka Woody HERE Our website includes pictures from club meets along with weekly blog posts on life, liberty and the pursuit of Premier League stability. COYP.