When Sebastian Frej arrived in the UK from Poland, he was already in love with the beautiful game. But it was while living in London that one club in particular piqued his interest.
“Crystal Palace got that Sheffield [Wednesday] away game,” he remembers, fondly. “I just saw it on TV and that got my interest.”
That dramatic afternoon at Hillsborough, where Palace secured Championship survival, was all Seb needed to know that this was the club for him.
“That’s why the season after, I bought my Season Ticket,” he says, “and I started coming to Selhurst regularly. I knew about the situation, minus ten points and everything. That got my attention.
“And then I see the Holmsdale Fanatics and the idea of four guys taking the club. All this together…
“I came first time and I never had a break. I came every time, sitting alone behind the goal.”
Combining his passion for football with his growing knowledge of photography, Seb’s pictures soon caught the attention of the club.
“They asked for some pictures, so I gave them,” he recalls. “Then I had nice feedback, and that gave me [a] boost.
“I came in for training and then that’s how it starts… Lucky for me, I got to take my chance.
“I got a nice response from everybody about those pictures. That gave me [a] boost as well: self-belief, a pick-me-up. It’s important when you come to the country and it’s not ‘yours’…
“Crystal Palace gave me a lot of positive energy.”
Before long, Seb became a mainstay on the training ground, recording the hard work that goes into Palace’s Premier League campaigns – and capturing the weekend’s best moments in his own unique style.
“The players are very good, and friendly. I try to be invisible as much as I can! But at the same time I want to be as close as possible. Especially with the goalkeepers team I can do whatever I like. I can come, sit in the goal, but at the same time not disturb them doing their jobs.
“I sometimes run [when Palace score a goal]. I know I shouldn’t, probably. But if Palace score I’m a different guy – I’m not thinking about the regulations, sorry!”
The glitz and glamour of the European elite has never appealed to Seb – instead, there is no better emotions than those felt at Hillsborough on that fateful afternoon.
“I think the beauty is in the struggle,” he says. “If you keep winning all the time it’s just boring. We all want, one time, to see Palace lift the cup. But the real beauty is in the struggle.
“When you play and fear relegation, that’s real emotion. Not being third or fourth and playing Champions League every season. It’s boring to me!
“I understand some fans think different, but that’s us.”
For Seb, there is no greater pleasure than being at Selhurst Park to witness the team he loves up close – it’s been his routine for more than a decade, and it’s one that he has no plans to let go.
“You don’t believe it but if you’re getting older and you see all these young people, it gives you lots of energy… It’s very important.
“This place changed my life.”
The easiest way to renew your Season Ticket for 21/22 is online. Make sure you have a Palace account and have linked your Client Reference Number to make this process as smooth as possible.
To find out the latest details on Season Tickets for 21/22, and for a detailed FAQ, click here.