As Palace prepare to face Valencia in two weeks’ time, club historian Ian King looks back at the last time the Eagles faced Spanish opposition at Selhurst Park - a friendly game against Real Madrid on 18th April 1962 to commemorate the opening of the club's new floodlights.
When the club installed new floodlights over fifty years ago they had erected four large pylons in the corners of the ground to replace a somewhat haphazard system that had been erected at the start of floodlit football in the mid-1950s.
Chairman Arthur Wait felt a prestigious club should be invited to play a friendly to officially open them but when some First Division clubs wanted a sizeable guarantee the board decided they could do better with that sort of money and, with some Spanish business connections, were able to get Real Madrid, then just as much a force in Europe as they are now. to come to Selhurst Park - quite a coup for a Third Division club!
For this game Palace played in a special kit of light blue shirts with a thin claret stripe and claret shorts made of a special reflective material that shone in the lights while the officials were all French. The captains exchanged pennants before the kick off while the Spanish club had already presented a silver salver to Palace that the club still has. Palace were allowed to have Johnny Byrne in their team following his recent transfer to West Ham and Real fielded a full strength side that had qualified for the European Cup final the previous week. The Spanish giants took the lead after only six minutes with a header from Di Stefano and a minute later Gento unleashed a fierce first time volley that flew past Vic Rouse for a 2-0 lead. Ron Heckman glided in to head home a centre from Johnny Byrne but Real soon restored their two goal advantage with a thirty-yard free kick taken by Puskas. Seven minutes from half-time it was Di Stefano and Puskas with a five touch passing move inside the penalty area that set their fourth goal for Sanchez.
Each side made a couple of changes at half-time the most notable of which was, from Palace’s point of view, the appearance of nineteen-year old Bill Glazier in goal who had made his Palace debut at the start of the year. In the second half Palace seemed to overcome the awe they held over their illustrious opponents and after fifty-three minutes Andy Smillie fired home a close range shot while Glazier pulled off some notable saves. Then with twenty minutes to play right-half Terry Long thundered home a twenty yard shot to give a more respectable scoreline to the game for the Palace fans who were present when the European Champions came to SE25.
Despite a wet evening a crowd approaching 25,000 came to the game which ensured that Palace covered the guarantee payable to Real Madrid and even made a small profit.
PALACE: Vic Rouse (Bill Glazier), Johnny McNichol, Roy Little, Terry Long, Brian Wood, George Petchey, Ron Brett, Roy Summersby, Johnny Byrne, Andy Smillie, Ron Heckman (Brian Lewis)
REAL MADRID Araquistain (Vincente), Casado, Miera, Sanchez, Santa-Maria (Marquitos), Pachin, Tejeda, Del Sol, Di Stefano, Puskas, Gento.
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