Firstly I would like to begin by passing on my condolences to the family of Harry Davies, a 19-year-old Palace fan who tragically passed away last weekend.
I was shocked when I received the news, and it’s harrowing to hear of one of our own being taken from us so young. Harry was a loyal Eagles supporter and he will be sadly missed.
Hopefully we can pick up a good result in his memory against a Liverpool side who are flying high in the table. I would like to welcome their directors, management, players and supporters to south London. If today’s game is anything like the recent matches between us and the Reds, it will no doubt excite all in the stadium and the global television audience.
Before kick-off, there will be a display of the work our club, in conjunction with our Foundation and the Study Centre, undertakes in the local community. We have designated this match to showcase what we do for our range of disabled supporters to ensure they get the same enjoyment and benefits of football that everyone else does. There’s still progress to make, and we will be working hard to add spaces for wheelchair access without compromising, if possible, our overall capacity.
In the fanzone outside the ground before the game you can see demonstrations from our various teams, including players with Down Syndrome or are visually impaired, as well as disabled children and adults that suffer with learning difficulties.
This follows on from our successful Powerchair football team recently experiencing a visit from some of our first-team, development and academy players plus the Palace Ladies for a session at Waddon Leisure Centre, which was a perfect demonstration of the difference a football club can make in the community.
I’m a very proud of the work that the Foundation and Study Centre do to help improve the lives of local supporters, and we intend to invest more in this area. On that note, I would like to take this opportunity to welcome the Foundation’s’ new CEO Mike Summers, who will undertake a review of our current operations and initiatives. Together we will develop a plan to further improve the effect and reach of our work.
Casting our gaze back onto the pitch, I felt we were unlucky to suffer back-to-back defeats in the recent games with West Ham United and Leicester City. We did everything but score against our London rivals a fortnight ago and definitely deserved a point, and then we came up against the reigning league champions. I’m sure that if Christian’s header goes in off the bar after 10 minutes, then we could have enjoyed a much more positive result that afternoon.
As always, it’s all about the fine margins in the Premier League, and with Liverpool bringing a loud, voracious support as usual to Selhurst tonight, I hope you’ll be able to surpass them in the singing stakes and help roar the lads on to another memorable win against the Reds.