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60 years today: Palace record biggest ever win

10 October 2019

1959 was far from a glory year for Crystal Palace F.C.

Following the unification of Division Three North and South ‘relegating’ two sets of teams in their league’s bottom half, Palace were stuck in the fourth tier of English football and spent two campaigns - 1958/59 and ‘59/60 - pushing but failing to earn promotion.

When Barrow travelled nearly the length of the country to face them, however, the south London club recorded their greatest ever victory: a 9-0 drubbing on home turf.

After a prolonged summer, the first rain of the month fell that afternoon after 10 dry days and, to the detriment Barrow, the floodgates truly opened.

Managed by east Londoner George Smith, the then-Glaziers boasted a side of considerable strength, with well-known names such as Vic Rouse, Terry Long, Dave Sexton and Johnny Byrne all lining up to face the Bluebirds.

But the man who stole the show in front of a 10,000-strong Selhurst crowd was Roy Summersby, a forward who netted 60 times for the club.

Had it not been for the clash with Barrow, though, Summersby’s total would have been 56, the often overlooked frontman netting four times that day.

Sitting 10th in the league, Palace were far from easy favourites when Barrow took to the turf, but when Ray Colfar bagged the afternoon’s first goal after 20-odd minutes, there was no stopping Smith’s men.

Colfar’s strike from the edge of the box catalysed a remarkable burst of goalscoring, with Johnny Gavin adding the next directly from a corner and Summersby adding his first two, effectively killing the game by half-time.

But 45 minutes still awaited Barrow and stretched before them like a prison sentence when Colfar bagged early into the second-half.

Summersby then claimed his hat-trick before adding one more for good measure from 12-yards before Byrne added the final touch, netting Palace’s ninth with just seconds on the clock remaining.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, victories grew less and less comprehensive as Palace worked their way up the leagues from 1961 onwards, with their largest ever third, second and first tier wins being 8-0, 6-0 and 5-0 respectively.

Frustratingly, even a 9-0 triumph wouldn't prove enough back in ‘59 and Palace failed to earn promotion back to the Third Division until 31 Johnny Byrne goals hauled them up the following campaign.

For those there on that rainy October afternoon, though, there had been enough celebrating to last all year.

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