The Eagles head to the France/Luxembourg border this weekend to take on FC Metz in their latest pre-season friendly, but it is a path that has already been trodden by a Palace side, albeit just over half a century ago.
Back in April 1967, the Glaziers were invited to the town by the British Board of Trade because a week-long international industrial fair was being held at the same time, with many British representatives attending alongside their French counterparts.
As well as trying to promote business between the two countries, also on show were other facets of British life, including typical British policemen and policewomen and a London Routemaster bus. With football being another huge part of our culture and England enjoying their time in the sun as World Cup holders, it was thought that a friendly game between Palace and Metz would add nicely to the festivities.
Despite the close proximity to a home game against Coventry City, 14 Palace players and three club officials made the trip alongside representatives from the London and Strasbourg Boards of Trade, and exchanged gifts with their opponents as they took to the field on 5th April in front of a crowd of 8,000 spectators at the Stade Saint-Symphorien – the same ground that will host Frank de Boer’s team on Saturday.
That broke Metz’s attendance record for a friendly with every available seat sold, priced at 15 shillings (75p in today’s money) with standing tickets sold for five shillings, dearer than the prices paid to watch football in England at the time.
Palace would run out 3-1 victors that afternoon, with Johnny Byrne scoring twice and Barry Dyson adding another, with the 12 players who featured for the visitors being Jackson, Sewell, Presland, Payne, Stephenson, Bannister, Sealey, Kember, Byrne, Dyson, Woodruff and O'Connell. After the game, all of those would be invited to a reception the following morning at Metz’s headquarters in the centre of the town.
Once that had concluded, Palace travelled back to south London where they would take on Coventry in Second Division action the day after their return, and claimed a 1-1 draw on their way to a mid-table finish.