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      Meet Palace’s 22/23 Fantasy Premier League champion


      Tens of weeks, hundreds of tweaks and thousands of points later, Crystal Palace supporters can crown a new Fantasy Premier League champion.

      Introducing Vicki Davis of Albuquerque, New Mexico – once a Manchester United supporter, but now firmly a convert to the ways of south London and red and blue.

      Davis accumulated a whopping 2,705 FPL points over the 22/23 season – a total which not only placed her first in Palace’s dedicated league, but third in the United States and, remarkably, 94th in the world.

      But while her passion for FPL was initially fuelled by that of her oldest son, a local soccer player, she was already a football fanatic long before the virtual season kicked off.

      Davis told “We first started playing FPL when my oldest son was playing club soccer and they did it as kind of a team bonding thing, where the players and their families were all in a league together.

      “I did have an interest in soccer before that – way back in 1994 when we had the World Cup over here, I went to a game in Dallas – but it was in the early 2000s my son started playing, and that’s when we started watching it and fell in love with the sport. Now, we watch pretty much every game out there.

      “At first, FPL was definitely just a bit of fun, then some of us in the soccer club started a money league a few years ago, so I took it a little bit more seriously. The joke was that I was the only girl in the league, and I won it!

      “This year, I decided I needed to play a little more seriously” – and with that decision came some seriously impressive results.

      Making a grand total of 57 changes to her team over the 38 gameweeks, scoring triple-digit points hauls on four occasions and finishing with an overall squad value of £104.1 million, Davis’ sharp insights sat perfectly with her love of watching Premier League football.

      “It’s really nice because in the United States, Peacock streams all of the Premier League games, so we can watch them all,” Davis explained.

      “But this year I also would pay attention to some FPL content sites, and between watching a lot of Premier League soccer myself, and then also listening to some podcasts and reading some articles… and then also having a lot of luck, I’ve done well this season!

      “I was in the top thousand right after the World Cup, and decisions just kept working out. I would try and keep a lot of the players that were really highly owned, and then throw in a couple of differentials here and there, and I got lucky.

      “I saw I was doing pretty well overall, so started taking it a little more seriously, making sure I was always checking transfer deadlines and planning ahead.”

      Yet the margins in top-level gaming – on and off the pitch – are fine, as Davis joked: “I was laughing that on the last day of the season, if I would just have captained Harry Kane instead of Mo Salah, I would have won the US league!” She finished third, 12 points off.

      “My worst decision was when Chelsea had a double gameweek right after the World Cup break. Even though he hadn’t been in form, I got Raheem Sterling in for it – he’s quite expensive too – and he got injured one minute into the first game! He was my captain, too!

      “I’m not sure how I came back from that one.”

      Nevertheless, considering the average FPL player usually peaks with a fourth-place finish in the office league – at least, in this writer’s not-at-all-bitter experience – Davis’ roll call of achievements remains impressive.

      But why, as a mother from New Mexico, enter the Crystal Palace supporters’ league at all?

      “It’s been really neat,” she smiles. “We started out as Man United fans because that used to be the global team – when we first started watching football, it was all my sons’ friends were into.

      “Then, a couple of years ago, my husband and I both decided that Crystal Palace were our new favourite team. We’d just really enjoyed watching them in the last few years.

      “It’s been a fun team to watch with Michael Olise and Ebere Eze, and Tyrick Mitchell and Marc Guéhi, some really talented young players. Becoming fans of Palace has been fun for us and we try not to miss any of their games. They’ve had a great end to the season.

      “We may [try to see Palace on tour in Detroit and Chicago] but where we really want to go to is Selhurst Park. We plan on spending a month in England in the Spring, and we want to see a Palace game.

      “During COVID, when kick-off times were really spread out and you could watch all of the games, we would generally pick the Palace games to watch, and we were so impressed with the atmosphere at Selhurst Park.

      “The fans gave such amazing support, and it was loud and exciting – so we’ve already said that’s the stadium we really want to see a game at when we’re over there.”

      As for her FPL plans for the 23/24 season, Davis notes: “Michael Olise, towards the end of last season, was in my team and I had a few good games with him. Next season, I’ll definitely start with either Eze or Olise in the team.

      “I would love to enter the Palace league again… but I’ll have to change my team name! I’ve had my current one since I started out, but I’ll have to do something with ‘Eagles’ or ‘Red and Blue’ or something.”

      She pauses, then smiles: “Sure, I’ll also go for winning the US, but I’m aware that a good degree of luck is involved… but top 10,000 would be a really great goal!”

      A tad better than fourth place in the office league, then.