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Palace fan and journalist John Pienaar recalls Bolasie 'singing with delight' v Everton

25 September 2020

Crystal Palace fan John Pienaar is the presenter of the Drive programme on Times Radio and was previously Deputy Political Editor at the BBC. Here, he talks to Richard Foster about back-to-back wins at Goodison Park and his earliest memory of life as an Eagle.

John Pienaar’s first Crystal Palace match was in 1967. "It was an evening game at Selhurst, possibly against Huddersfield," he says. "I must admit my memory of games is quite scratchy so I cannot remember a single thing about the match itself apart from the noise; the smell of onions, tobacco and beer, along with the clouds of smoke.

"It was quite an intoxicating experience. The other thing that stayed with me was how immeasurably old our players like Mark Lazarus, John Sewell and John McCormick looked!"

But, of course, everyone looks 'old' when you're aged 11. Moving on to his most cherished game against upcoming opponents Everton, Pienaar revels in two consecutive meetings at Goodison Park from recent times. "That pair of 3-2 victories, both in 2014, impressed me as we weren’t expected to get anything from them," Pienaar says.

"Again, my memory is a bit sketchy but I clearly remember Yannick Bolasie doing what he did best by bamboozling defenders with his trickery. On his day Yannick was as good as Wilf [Zaha] and he seemed to be almost singing with delight as he was thoroughly enjoying every single moment."

Neil Warnock had brought Bolasie into the team for the second of those 3-2 wins and the winger justified his selection when he notched his first Premier League goal by striking low past Tim Howard from the edge of the area to secure Palace’s first win of the 14/15 season.

In his post-match interview, Warnock singled out Bolasie for praise: "He’s got talent but he works hard as well - people don’t realise how hard he works. Sometimes you don’t know what you’re going to get but that’s good because defenders don’t what they’re going to get either."

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Pienaar points out that Bolasie’s enigmatic style made him a unique talent, saying: "As Sam Allardyce said of him: 'nobody ever knows what he is going to do, but neither does he.' That’s what made him the exciting player he was."

That Yala-inspired win six years ago was Palace’s last against Everton. In the 11 subsequent games there have been six draws and five defeats.

Pienaar, who has been a Season Ticket holder since Palace's return to the Premier League in 2013, admits he is a natural pessimist when it comes to upcoming games, mainly as a defence mechanism against defeat.

"I always assume the worst, as I used to be so inconsolable after a loss that it would ruin my whole weekend. I am trying to be much more philosophical and adult about it now."

From watching Palace aged 11 and marvelling at the age of their players to today, why start being adult about things now?

  • Richard Foster's latest book Premier League Nuggets is out now and is available in bookshops and online here

READ NEXT: Palace Preview: How in-form frontlines are crucial in Palace’s Everton clash

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