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      The Weird and Wonderful of Selhurst Park


      In its near-100-year existence, Selhurst Park has hosted a collection of the weird and the wonderful – people, objects and events. In this edition, we look at three of the most enduring characters to grace SE25

      Len Chatterton

      It’s hypnotising watching the groundsmen at work before kick-off or at half-time, as they patrol the surface prodding the turf apparently at random with an enormous pitchfork. They must know what they are doing, we reason.

      But when Len Chatterton heard he half-time whistle, he knew it was time for the real entertainment to begin – and so did the fans. There was the click of the key in the ignition, the rumble of the engine spluttering into life, and the sight of a car pull out onto the pitch at Selhurst Park.

      An old VW Beetle hoved into view, its wheels covered by heavy duty rollers designed to flatten the pitch. In the driver’s seat was Chatterton, his hat proudly adorning his head, one hand on the wheel and the other out of the window as he peered down to make sure the pitch was getting just the right coverage.

      It was a fool-proof system…until the car broke down while halfway through its rounds, delaying the start of the second-half in bizarre fashion.

      Chatterton’s legacy did not stop there, as his son Nick Chatterton came through the club’s ranks and made more than 150 appearances for the first-team, helping Malcolm Allison’s side reach the FA Cup semi-finals in 1976.

      Mrs Minchella: The Peanut Seller

      If your sweet tooth needed satiating on matchday, there was always a reliable source of sustenance around the corner – quite literally. In Croydon, the fierce figure of Josephine Minchella has become stuff of legend.

      In the 1960s and 1970s, she would fill her pram with a veritable cornucopia of treats from candies to boiled sweets to – as the nickname tells you – peanuts. It wasn’t just matchday, too, and she would often be seen roaming the streets with her pram looking for customers.

      Nobody ever discovered why this became her daily routine, but her daughter looked back on her rounds with affection. “She went out in all weather," said Josephine (junior). "She wasn't poor because she had a big Victorian house and six children but she just went out. She didn't speak very good English but she liked [doing] it and worked hard."

      After being repeatedly mugged Mrs Minchella stopped her regular portable sweet shop rounds, but even after her death in 1991 she left a lasting legacy. In 2019, John J O’Connor of Football Poets wrote an ode to her memory. It began:

      Some call her Lou Lou, some Isabella

      But to most fans at Palace, she was Missus Minchella

      “Peanuts forra sixpence

      A tanner a bagga

      Her accent went through you

      Like a sharpened up dagger.

      Clive ‘Side-O’ Waters

      Born on April 16th, 1952, Clive began following Palace as a child with his parents, and started selling programmes as soon as he was old enough – and over the following decades he would earn legendary status at Selhurst Park.

      With his distinctive bushy sideburns, he quickly earned the nickname ‘Side-O’ from the regulars in SE25 as he sold the matchday editions from Entrance 3 of the Holmesdale Road Stand, making the spot his own personal kingdom on matchdays.

      For year after year Clive supported his beloved Crystal Palace, attending more than 1,300 home games before suffering a stroke in 2012, and being forced to spend a spell away from Selhurst Park. When he was fit enough to make his return, the affection with which he was held by the Palace fans was made clear.

      Clive returned on Saturday, 16th February 2013 at the age of 60, and was greeted with a standing ovation from all four sides of the ground as he watched Palace demolish Middlesbrough 4-1 – from the comfort of an Executive Box, of course. As he recuperated, was given two season tickets for the remaining games free of charge.

      "Saturday was really good,” Clive said after the game. “We got a good win and the football was alright wasn’t it?

      “It was really nice to be in the box. It was a lovely gesture to get the half-season ticket, it really surprised me. I just hope I can go to all of them now. It was emotional seeing people stand up at half-time clapping me. It surprised me but I was so happy."

      The club was deeply saddened to learn of Clive’s passing last October at the age of 70.