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First Team

Staying connected: How you interacted with players from behind closed doors

1 January 2021

2020 was a challenging year all around the world, with the COVID-19 pandemic causing gatherings to be cancelled or postponed throughout football and beyond.

When events have been allowed, they’ve been enjoyed through screens as crowds are banned from stadia across England.

But while it’s been quiet in the stands at Selhurst Park, players have kept their interaction with fans going digitally, where supporters have watched and reacted to matches together from their own homes.

So, with 2020 behind us and 2021 bringing more hope, we’ve looked back on your interactions with Palace this year, recounting a few moments that capture the relationship between supporter and player.

Patrick van Aanholt’s favourite goal

Palace defender Patrick van Aanholt is more than happy to share his opinion on social media, often willing to answer fans’ questions.

Recently, one supporter asked him to recall his favourite goal for Palace, and the Dutchman named a pair of memorable efforts, including his fantastic free-kick against Newcastle United in 2019/20.

Football’s nice guy, Vicente Guaita

Eagles goalkeeper Vicente Guaita also keeps in close contact with fans through social media, often giving birthday shoutouts and words of encouragement to young Palace supporters with big dreams of following in his footsteps.  

Guaita expresses his high tempo personality in his relationship with the fans and made one young man’s day with the below interaction.

Townsend and Van Aanholt missing the crowds

Since Palace played their first fixture at Selhurst on Wednesday, 30th August, 1924 against Sheffield United, the stadium has been an iconic venue, drawing in crowds of fans from up and down the country.   

Van Aanholt drew on the magic only Selhurst can offer, noting fans as the centre of its appeal.

Palace winger Andros Townsend joined Van Aanholt in wanting the fans back and, when COVID-19 measures were eased slightly in December, he expressed his delight at your return for the Tottenham Hotspur clash.   

Michy and Wilf lend a hand

Struggling with your Fantasy team? Michy Batshuayi and Wilfried Zaha are on hand to help, sort of…

Famous faces reach out

Finally, Palace haven’t just been interacting with fans through social media. During the first lockdown, staff and former players phoned Season Ticket holders over the age of 70 to ensure these fans were well supported.

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Staff from across the club called supporters several times during their working day and beyond and, for some fans, the likes of Dougie Freedman, Aki Riihilahti and Alan Birchenall reached out.

Here, former Palace frontman James Scowcroft speaks on the incredible dedication of fans from across the country, including one who lives north of Newcastle but makes the journey to Selhurst to watch each game.

In addition to this, the club’s Down Memory Lane events have continued and enabled supporters to join video calls with Geoff Thomas and Nicky Chatterton and enjoy exclusive, lengthy interviews with Nigel Martyn and Gary O’Reilly while first-team players have jumped on Instagram Live to answer fans’ questions.

It isn’t hard to see the commitment, perseverance and energy Palace fans bring to Selhurst every time they come to SE25. With their absence being keenly felt across the club, virtual interactions filled a small part of the void.

This year, with any luck, those relationships will once again be in person.

READ NEXT: 2020 Wrapped: Reflecting on Palace's highs after a testing year

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