Happy new year to everyone here at Selhurst Park today, and welcome to the supporters, staff and players of Grimsby Town – it’s great to host you for this FA Cup match in south London.
It’s nice to switch our attention to this special competition where we’ve enjoyed some of our finest moments as a club. We have of course reached the final on two occasions only to finish runners-up both times, so the memories I have, and I’m sure you share, are somewhat bittersweet.
The original final against Manchester United in 1990 along with the amazing 4-3 semi-final success against Liverpool were two of the most exciting games in the history of the famous competition. It’s still hard to take when I watch the 1990 final as we were so, so close. It did though announce a certain Ian Wright onto the world stage; what an impact from the substitute!
The journey to that final was relatively low key - Portsmouth, Huddersfield Town and Rochdale all at home followed by Cambridge United away in the quarter-finals before that epic win over Liverpool at Villa Park, which understandably Brighty still talks about!
Fast-forward to 2016, by which time I had been chairman for six years, and our journey to the final was far tougher. We beat Southampton away, Stoke City at home, Tottenham Hotspur and Reading away and then Watford in the semi-final at Wembley. United would once again break our hearts by winning 2-1 despite us taking the lead through Jason Puncheon, but everything about that day will live with me forever.
The FA Cup remains the best domestic cup competition in the world, and it’s the trophy supporters of all clubs dream of winning. To be that close twice with Palace just makes me want it more, so we begin this journey like all fans of the 63 other clubs today wondering if this could be the year.
Grimsby supporters have come out in their thousands, which I’m sure will make for a vibrant atmosphere under the lights this evening. As we chose to open up ticket access to non-members, it’s also a great opportunity for us to welcome new football fans to Selhurst Park. There are more than a thousand of you sat in our home stands today on your first visit to Selhurst Park, and I hope you have a memorable day and that it becomes the first of many.
Turning attention back to league matters for a moment, to take seven points from Manchester City, Cardiff City, Chelsea and Wolves was a good return from the Christmas and New Year fixtures, and we have secured three points more than this stage of the season last year after 21 league games.
As we all know, every point is precious and hopefully we can build upon our final position of 11th last term in the final five months of the campaign.
Up The Palace!
To see the Chairman's pre-match notes along with manager Roy Hodgson and captain Luka Milivojevic's as well as all the rest of the usual chats, stats and facts in the Crystal Palace programme, make sure to pick up your copy from outside Selhurst Park for just £2.50. Alternatively, purchase your online copy below now!