The new Palace TV+ documentary Coming of Age: The Step Up demonstrates how the passion of the club’s fans runs right through the young players, with boyhood Palace supporters proud to pull on the shirt in the most important game of the season.
“Next week, you do not need any external motivation,” Under-18s manager Paddy McCarthy tells his players before their trip to the south coast. “Next week is one that this football club demands that we go and win – demands that we go and fight for.
“Rocking down to Brighton with our heads held high and our chests puffed out, knowing that we’re going to be on the front foot and take the game to them as well.”
After his speech, McCarthy takes boyhood Palace fan and Academy midfielder Jack Wells-Morrison aside.
“Go again, let’s go get these,” he tells him. “You know what it means to Palace fans next week, don’t you?”
“Biggest game of the season,” comes the reply.
“For everyone,” the manager agrees. “You know what it means. Make sure the rest of them know what it means. This is the one. Let’s get down there and get in their faces and get at them.”
For goalkeeper Joe Whitworth, it’s the same story.
“I’ve been coming to Palace since I can remember, since I was four or five when my mum took me,” he says. “I’m really proud to be at Palace, and really proud to be at the club.
“Paddy and [Darren] Powell made sure we knew how much of a big game this was, and me and Jack made sure all the lads knew we had to win this game. We couldn’t lose.”