Indonesian Palace supporter Julius Janison achieved a dream by watching the Eagles live for the first time during the Premier League Asia Trophy last week. Here, he reflects on his experiences of seeing his Eagles heroes in the flesh.
For the first time in 22 years, Crystal Palace made their first appearance in Hong Kong for two exciting live matches against Liverpool and West Bromwich Albion at the Hong Kong Stadium. As an Indonesian Palace fan, I was very excited at the opportunity to watch Palace live for the first time in my life.
Upon my arrival in Hong Kong on Monday, I quickly realised that the players had also landed around the same time with their distinguished kit bags made an appearance at the luggage collection point. As I gathered with anticipation along with the other fans for their arrival, our excitement quickly turned into disappointment as we concluded that the players had already left for their hotel.
We received information that the squad were lodging at the Grand Hyatt in Wan Chai and decided to pursue a final attempt to meet them there. After a two-hour wait, a close encounter with security and several additional hitches along the way, I achieved my dream of meeting the famous Palace boys, including new coach Frank de Boer himself. The day was saved!
The day after, a fan event took place jointly organised by the club and key CPFC HK member Rob Saunders. Steve Parish made an appearance that night and I had the chance to meet him in person. The Doghouse – the Wan Chai pub where a few of us Hong Kong fans gather every Friday to watch the games – was suddenly filled with Palace supporters from all over the world sharing their energy with the team prior to game day.
It was a truly amazing experience; among the key figures I met that night were club legend Mark Bright as well as star players, past and present, Wilfried Zaha, Fan Zhiyi, Julian Speroni and James Tomkins.
On both game days, I went to the stadium with the Hong Kong Palace supporters and the atmosphere in the stands was surreal. The Eagles truly have one of the most passionate fanbases in the world and it was on full display during the matchdays. “Glad All Over”, “Pride of South London” and many other chants could be heard across the stadium despite being surrounded by Liverpool fans, but we still managed to drown out the noise with our own during the second game.
For an international fan like myself, I do not get many chances to watch live games being so far away from London. Palace coming to HK was an experience not to be forgotten; the players played their hearts out in the Hong Kong heat and humidity and were rewarded with two great goals against West Bromwich Albion.
I’m glad to have witnessed a Palace victory in Hong Kong, and the next step would be to one day visit Selhurst Park itself and see one there!