Teammates at Academy level can be fleeting. Players come and go, and squads change as they rise through the age groups, but many of the players in front of him had been together since their early teenage years – if not before.
The new Palace TV+ documentary Coming of Age: The Step Up captures McCarthy’s final pre-match team talk to his Under-18s side, who had defied the odds by taking the title race right down to the wire in their first season at Category 1 level.
Read every word of his inspirational address below:
“It might be the last time we sit here as a group shoulder to shoulder. Enjoy every last minute of it.
“Make sure you leave it all out on that football pitch. Don’t bring anything back in here.
“Now I don’t know a lot, but what I know about is two things. I know about people, because of where I'm from. And I know about football, because that’s all I've ever done.
“The biggest thing in both of them is trust. That one word: trust. The most powerful thing in team sport is trusting.
“Get your heads up and look around at every individual in this room. And you know you can trust your mate beside you. You know he’s going to run himself into the ground. You know he’s got major quality. You know you when you need to scrap and fight, and when it gets tough he’s beside you.
“And that is the most powerful thing in sport, and not only in sport, in life. Trust yourselves, enjoy it and leave it all out there.
“Come on, let’s go!”