The week long countdown to the FA Cup final has finally begun, and for passionate Palace fans, the trip to Wembley brings back some poignant memories of when and why their love affair with the south London club started.
In part one of our three-part feature, we asked supporters who work in the local area to share their stories on what it means to be a support of Crystal Palace.
Sarah, Hairdresser, Foxes Hair & Beauty, Beckenham - "My dad used to take me to Palace when I was tiny, I used to go on his shoulders and it’s always been a family thing - my dad, his dad, his dad. It’s a great atmosphere at Selhurst, we sit in the Holmesdale stand and it just makes you feel good when you’re there, even when we’re losing we’re still singing. I’ve been through it all, administration, losing ten points, so it’s fantastic to be in this position we’re in now and I just hope we can win the Cup final."
Barry, Bouncer, The Victory Club, South Norwood - "I was born in South Norwood and brought up supporting Liverpool till the age of five until I realised there was a club just around the corner. Palace is in the blood - it’s all about the pride and the community it brings together. I recon Palace will win the final, obviously after 1990 it’s going to be tough, but I think it’s a bit of destiny, it’s set in the waters that we’ll go out there and win it."
Francesea, Head of Girls PE, Darrick Wood School, Bromley - "My basis for football is family, I can remember being at my nan and granddad’s when all the rest of the family were going to the final in 1990 and I was too little. We haven’t had the best second half to the season but I’m a bit of an optimist and I always believe that something good is going to happen. We weren’t meant to get into Europe, we weren’t meant to do a Leicester, but we’re meant to be the Leicester of the cup."
Kevin, IT Manager, Benshman Manor School, Thornton Heath - "I’ve been a fan for twenty-five years. It was a Palace community scheme that got me to go to my first game because they gave out free tickets to my junior school and I’ve followed them ever since. I’ve bought a brand new shirt for the final and got it printed with the FA Cup badges and the date and teams on it! I would love to see Dwight Gayle get the winner, whenever he’s on the pitch you get the impression he’s going to score if he’s given the chance."
James, Bar tender, The Albion, South Norwood - "Palace has been my club since I was a baby. The 1990 semi-final and then final were my first memories. I didn’t think we’d get to the final to be fair, so things are going well. Even if we lose I’ll still be celebrating with everyone here, everyone knows how well we’ve done to get this far, but it’s Man United and we’ve got a job to do on them and I think we’ll do it."
Kevin, Founder and Director, Community Golf South London and Surrey - "I’m a massive fan and have been since Eric Cantona did that karate kick on one of the fans at Selhurst! The atmosphere on matchdays gives you a buzz, there’s nothing else like it, and the fans here are the best in the Premier League, they stick with the team through everything. Palace are absolutely going to win the final, it’s going to tight and there’s not going to be that many goals but I think it’ll be 1-0 and Bolasie to score the winner."
Owner, Get Stuffed Café, South Norwood - "We’ve always supported the club. All our regulars in here know we’re Palace fans, we have the Get Stuffed Palace flag on the wall, we do matchday specials, it’s our club and we’re proud of it. The Cup final is unbelievable, to get there for starters, and to win it will be amazing."
Allie, History teacher, Bromley - "My dad is a huge fan of Palace and he started taking me when I was seven. Then when I was thirteen he got me a season ticket and it’s continued since then. The atmosphere at Selhurst is amazing, it’s a place I feel safe and secure and it’s where I’ve got a lot of my happiest memories. It’s a really important part of the community, and to my family it’s been huge. If you had said six years ago we’d be in the Cup final I wouldn’t have believed it. Talking to my dad he can remember the final and I’m incredibly nervous, we don’t want to be in the same position again. We’ve got nine tickets and my brother is away travelling in Asia but he’s planning to come home to watch the final!"
Tweet @CPFC #WeFollow and tell us in words, video, or pictures, why you’ll be cheering on Palace at Wembley this Saturday.