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      ‘We never watch Palace alone’: the Stateside Eagles' backstories


      You might have expected that, just under 4000 miles away – as the crow flies – from Selhurst Park, the red and blue might glow a little less fervently for Crystal Palace in the heart of Chicago, Illinois.

      Yet to do so would be underestimating the power of Crystal Palace Football Club.

      Ahead of the club's pre-season friendly against Millonarios FC, individuals and groups of supporters from across the United States – all from wildly different origins, with wholly different stories – came together for a meet-up and a cruise along the Chicago river.

      There, they shared in drinks, nostalgia and laughter, reminiscing about their memories of a club for whom they share an unwavering passion – be they originally based in London, the USA, or even further afield.

      Speaking to the organiser of the event, the Twitter community organiser @holmesdaleUSA, he surmised: “We use a term here: ‘We never watch Palace alone.’”

      On Wednesday night, with a packed pre-match programme including the river cruise; a pre-game party across the carpark; and then inside a boisterous SeatGeek Stadium, where fans met Challenger the Eagle – and his mascot counterpart Pete – they did not.

      @holmesdaleUSA continued: “Watching at home isn’t the same as watching with other Palace people, singing songs, commiserating losses and enjoying the wins. That’s what our main goal is: to connect people. Meeting new people here is great.

      “It’s amazing to meet people we’ve been in touch with for a very long time. We’ve got groups here from Dakota, San Francisco, Omaha, St Louis, Denver, D.C., New York… and many others we’ve been in touch with for a long time.

      “It’s good to have everyone here just to be able to relax and watch some Palace.”

      As the boat showed off Chicago’s internationally renowned architecture, he joked: “There’s a river in Chicago and there’s a river in London…. so we thought we may as well!

      “We did one for the 2016 tour in Cincinnati and it was a really lovely trip everyone enjoyed, so we thought we may as well give everyone something to do together in Chicago."

      As for his Palace backstory, the community organiser explained:“Back in 2010, I was getting back into football. I had a German team from when I lived there when I was younger. All my friends were watching Arsenal and Tottenham, but I couldn’t connect with that. I looked down the table and there was nothing.

      “I tried to look for family connections but they were all weird small towns that didn’t even have clubs! Friends were like ‘Oh, you’re from Philadelphia, you like teams who don’t always win – look down in the Championship, maybe there’s a team there!’

      “On the table it said ‘Palace’ and one of my favourite musicians was called Will Oldham, who used to put out records as ‘Palace Brothers’ and ‘Palace Music’ and the like, so I was like ‘What’s this about?’.

      “I looked the club up… and three years later I started up a US group to connect with other Palace fans – and now we’re on a boat in Chicago!

      “It’s good just as a connecting point. It’s always better to see Palace in London for competitive matches, but it’s great to have this friendly to bring people together and meet new Palace fans we’re not yet connected with, and connect them to groups in their hometowns so that they can watch matches during the season together.”

      Let’s meet a few such supporters who joined the river cruise…

      Joel & Catherine, and sons Jacob & Sean

      When Joel married Catherine, originally from England, the two soon became a Crystal Palace household – and with suitably prime timing, their family holiday this summer, by chance, coincided with Palace’s pre-season trip to Chicago…

      Joel: “I’m originally from Milwaukee [in Wisconsin], just north of Chicago. My wife is from Addiscombe [south London] and is a lifelong Palace fan. Our boys are Palace fans and I’ve been a Palace fan for 23 years.

      “When I first started going, Jovan Kirovski and Gregg Berhalter had just started playing for Palace, so I had that American connection straight away.

      “It’s just great to be out here and see them in a different country. It’s great to see the players come over and show enthusiasm for Chicago, and I’m happy to see new players coming in like Jefferson Lerma – and I’m happy to see [Ebere] Eze again!

      “We’ve got such an amazing spine in the team with Cheick Doucouré, but all the way through the middle as well – we’ve got Sam Johnstone, some great midfielders, and we’re really excited about Jes Rak-Sakyi as well.

      “I had the feeling that last year we were on the cusp of kicking on to a higher finishing spot. We had a little bit of a wobble, but then a great finish, but hopefully we can put together a complete season and put together a bit of a cup run.”

      Jarod & Miles

      Jarod and his son Miles’ Palace origin story was an unorthodox one, but their love for the club has only grown stronger since.

      Jarod: “We’ve been Palace fans since they signed Patrick van Aanholt, to be honest! We met him on vacation. He played at Sunderland at the time, we told him we’d come over and watch him play.

      “Palace bought him on the last day of the transfer market, so we changed all our plans and came over to Selhurst Park instead! We’ve been fans ever since, even though he wasn’t there that much longer afterwards!

      “We first came over to London in March 2017. Miles was able to be an official mascot for our game against Watford – 8th March 2017 – and we won 1-0! The goalscorer? Troy Deeney – an own-goal! It was a beautiful day.

      “I watch the Premier League channel pretty much every day on Peacock. 7.30am games, Monday afternoons, Wednesday afternoons… I work from home, so if they come on in the afternoon, I’m working and watching Palace!

      “My favourite current player? That’s an ‘Eze’ answer – it’s got to be Ebere Eze! I love the way he’s coming together and what he’s been able to do of late. He’s coming along and doing great. Big shoutout to the American Eagle, Chris Richards, as well – hopefully he gets a lot of playing time this season.

      “It’s our first time seeing Palace live in America. It’s great to be here in Chicago and cheering on our club.”


      John journeyed to Chicago from D.C. to celebrate his love of the club with his fellow Crystal Palace supporters.

      “I’ve been a Palace fan since 2015. After I watched the USA in the 2014 World Cup, I was like ‘I gotta get into this!’

      “When I was looking at teams, I saw Palace play Q.P.R. I saw ‘Crystal Palace’ and thought: ‘What an interesting name for a team, it’s a funny name!’ They were a super American kind of team, with the Eagle on the logo; the red, white and blue; and the cheerleaders, and I was like: ‘sold’!

      “I didn’t know the history of the team at the time, or how they were an underdog in the grand scheme of English football, but I loved learning more about them. I loved the Palace community. I loved how passionate all the fans are, and the part of south London it’s from.

      “It’s a very diverse place with people from all over the world, and it spoke to all the values I have. I’ve been a Palace fan ever since.

      “If the games are on TV, I’ll watch them on there, but sometimes I can catch a radio feed on TalkSPORT. If I’ve got something else to do, I’ll always have the game on the radio in the background. I follow Twitter and Instagram to keep up with events too.

      “There have been so many club legends, but I love Julian Speroni. He was a long-time server, and an unheralded but stylish player in his own right. He doesn’t get enough credit for being the calibre of player he was back in the day.

      “Another guy who comes to mind is Joel Ward. He’s been a great servant. I loved James McArthur’s tenacity. He’s a guy who doesn’t get enough credit for the style he does bring to the team. I love them all!

      “Coming to Selhurst Park is on the bucket list. I saw Palace in Philly in 2016 – the 0-0 – so it’s awesome to see them live, and I’ll be going to the game in Detroit too.”


      Callum, who works in recruitment, is a Season Ticket Holder from south London who had quite the unique link between Palace and Wednesday’s opponents at SeatGeek Stadium…

      “I met my now-wife, who’s Colombian, and moved out to Colombia in 2011! I lived there for four years. All of her family support Millonarios, so I ended up going to about 20 or 30 games when I was there, and saw them win the league a couple of times.

      “When I saw a couple of months back that Place were playing Millonarios in a friendly, I knew I had to go. I told my Dad, he said the same thing, and we booked our flights within a week or so.

      “I actually flew out here from Bogota, I went to a Millonarios game a week ago – so I’m really happy to be here! I want a few goals and a good atmosphere, and hopefully a bit of banter with the Millonarios fans as well.

      “I’m Palace born and bred. I’ve got a Season Ticket. I live in Brighton, which is probably a bit taboo! We’ll be at Selhurst Park again next season, and hopefully go to a few Millonarios games as well.

      “I fly over to Bogota a couple of times a year. I was there for three weeks just gone, and I’ll be back at Christmas. I always go to a couple of games when I’m there. It’s a good atmosphere there – almost as good as Selhurst Park!”