“All football fans want fans of other clubs to appreciate their club too,” says Chris Grierson, interviewer and producer of the series. “As much as there are rivalries, everyone wants everyone else to understand why they love their club. I think that’s come across.
“The thing that is most special is seeing how much non-Palace fans enjoyed it, learning a story they knew nothing about. When you support a club, you think everyone else knows everything you do about what your club’s been through.
“But so many people I speak to say: ‘I don’t remember that happening. I had no idea Palace nearly went out of business in 2010!’
After purchasing the footage filmed in nine years ago, there was still a long way to transform it into a compelling story that Amazon would stream worldwide.
“It did take the interviews for it to become what it is,” says director Sean Webb. “COVID happened and I thought: ‘Right, now is a good time to get cracking because football is cancelled for two months.’
“Palace gave me the time to do that. I did a first edit which was just Ian Holloway’s interview which we had already done, and all the interviews from 2013. But I think we both knew it was going to be very different from that.”
With the project in full flow, the tight-knit squad of that season were keen to re-live the action once again.
“Every single person I asked said yes straight away,” says Grierson. “Without exception – it didn’t even need to be sold to them. Obviously when we interviewed them it wasn’t an Amazon series then – it was just for Palace TV – and they still all said yes.
“We didn’t want to do Zoom interviews because of how it looked. It was at a time when everything was on Zoom on TV. It was a story about 2012/13, so we didn’t want stuff that would make it look so 2020. We were just going to do people in person.
“The challenge was to do it in people’s gardens, and outdoors because of COVID rules. The key characters we couldn’t do were Damien Delaney, who was in Ireland, and Peter Ramage, who was in Phoenix, Arizona.”
When Ramage returned to take a role with Newcastle United’s Academy, Webb and Grierson seized the opportunity to get him involved – an interview which meant so much to the finished product.
“It’s the way that he spoke,” explains Grierson, “but also because of the way everyone else had spoken about him, and how special a guy he was. It was obvious that we had to talk to him.
“I just listed off everyone in the squad and asked him to talk about each player, and that became the whole team spirit section.”
“It was one of the interviews that unlocked the group for us,” remembers Webb. “We had intended to do it on the Tyne, and we had scouted out a few little shots outside a brewery on the water. But then when we got there, there was building site right next door.
“We ended up asking the guy if we could come in for half an hour, and it was really great. The guy gave us a beer afterwards, Rambo already knew him.”
Ramage’s depiction of that season as a jigsaw coming together became one of the central themes of the documentary.
“Before that it was a squad XI graphic,” says Webb. “It’s still there in parts where we explain Holloway’s tactics, the 4-3-3 and the 4-2-3-1. It was going to be just that.
“But then it felt like that really wasn’t it. It was about more than just the 11 players that played in the final. It’s about all the people involved. So the jigsaw was a nice image.
Amidst the focus on the squad that season, there was plenty of behind the scenes footage that was never used – much of it fascinating.
“Molen Media did a lot of good stuff that season,” says Webb. “I think what they wanted to make ended up being very different from what we made – but I know from what they have said that they still think it’s fantastic.
“They did days looking at departments within the club. They did a day against Birmingham with Mike Rankin, the stadium announcer – we managed to get some of that stuff in, because he is a well-known person to Palace fans that go to games.
“Stuff like that would have been good at the time,” explains Grierson. “You’re seeing behind the scenes of a football club. But if you’re putting that out now, you’re seeing how a football club used to work – but it’s all completely different now.”
After all, behind the scenes documentaries are no longer new. As Webb explains, they have to be original too.
“Now that we’ve had the Amazon Prime and the Netflix documentaries that are properly behind the scenes, with a camera in the dressing room for all of Jose Mourinho’s pre-match team talks, I don’t think it would have hit the same notes as that.
“If you want behind the scenes stuff, it has to be the first team to get people’s interest.”
It didn’t take Amazon long after their first viewing to commit to the project, but it meant a slight change of focus for the filmmakers.
“Selling it to a much wider audience, you had to hook people,” says Webb. “That’s the big sell, the zero to hero, the rags to riches story. That’s what hooks the more neutral viewer.
“I did a completely different intro. Making it for Palace TV is making it for Palace fans, so all you have to say is: ‘Aren’t we fantastic? Isn’t our story incredible?’”
Grierson sums up the new approach: “The old version was telling people how great Palace was. The new version was telling people how great the story is.”
As Palace fans who lived those memories on the terraces, has the experience changed the way they feel about the season?
“I look at the characters differently,” says Webb. “As a fan back in 2012, I remember exactly where I was when Dougie Freedman left. Now I know him as a person, and hearing him say: ‘By the time I got to Bolton, I knew I’d done the wrong thing,’ it changes your opinion of it.
“Stories about players in the first-team that you didn’t realise were such a big part of the team spirit. There are quite a few in there. They all name check people like Owen Garvan and Aaron Wilbraham that we didn’t give enough credit to back in the day.”
“It was weird going from being in the stands when Dougie came back with Bolton,” laughs Grierson, “and joining the songs of: ‘Oh Dougie Freedman, what have you done?’, to then a few years later sitting with a serious face and saying: ‘Dougie, tell me what you did?’”
Far from being happy to have the project behind them, the filmmakers are more proud now than they have ever been.
“This being on Amazon is a credit to everyone who has worked on Palace TV over the past few years,” Grierson says. “This kind of thing is possible because we’ve got amazing equipment, and that is possible because of the stuff we’ve done in the past.
“I think it’s a proud moment for the club that we can tell stories for the whole world to see.”
“It came from the moment we started making it for non-Palace fans too,” Webb agrees. “That’s when we started telling the story we did, making it for Amazon and changing it for a wider audience. That cracked open what makes the club special.
“That’s what ended up sitting with me most towards the end when I watched it with friends and family. It’s that we do have – especially in the last 10-15 years – it’s almost like a club reborn. And the fact that it came from fans, even a fan who saved the club and managed it through its most successful period.
“It came from a legend building a team from a bunch of rag tag underdogs. The fact that all of that came together in such a short space of time, and that we could tell that story as fans but also as filmmakers is pretty special.
“I don’t think I’ll ever be so connected to an individual piece of work I do again.”