About Me

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Hammersmith, London, United Kingdom
I'm a director of Maidenhead United Football Club. For ten seasons one of my roles at the club was to produce the match programme. The aim of this blog was to write football related articles for publication in the match programme. In particular I like to write about the representation of football in popular culture, specifically music, film/TV and literature. I also write about matches I attend which generally feature Maidenhead United.

Monday, 28 February 2011

Day Out At The Palace

An early postponement at York Road presented the opportunity to catch up with a friend going to Crystal Palace to support Reading.  The convenience of a direct train from Shepherd's Bush to Selhurst added to the rare luxury of being able to pay cash at the turnstile (sorry box office adjacent to the turnstile) to watch professional football  meant this was too easy an opportunity to pass up.  A train full of rugby fans made this an unlikely rush hour and any doubt as to who I would support at Selhurst Park evaporated when a crafty Eagle sneaked in front of me to pinch a seat then proceeded to use the one next to him to unfurl his copy of the Daily Mail and use it as a repository for the salad from his sandwich, presumably having read how it would give him cancer.
Loyalties sorted I arrived at Selhurst and promptly bumped into one of the Twyford Royal Magpies and then as if my arrival at the ground was expected was interviewed by a mysterious organisation called winkball.

Pre match pleasantaries over and done with I finally got to the Arthur Waite stand and was disappointed to find that the away end had been moved to the bottom of the hill next to the family stand, well away from the Holmesdale Ultras.  On the other hand this meant I had now completed the set and sat in every section of this part of the ground.  
You have to give Crystal Palace credit for creating an atmosphere at games at a pitch well above what you would expect from an average crowd of under 15,000 although I'm not sure what the pre match parading of an Eagle does to create more noise.  My desperate hopes that it would ignore its handler and perch on the stand until the game started, then divebomb the players were sadly unfulfilled.  Let's hope Palace can renew their rivalry with Brighton next season to present the opportunity of some primeaval bird fight with a seagull.  Bird brained antics aside the Palace fans always get behind their team whatever their standing so despite the obvious limitations of Selhurst Park I was surprised to read throughout the programme how keen everyone was to move to the Crystal Palace athletics stadium.  Aside from the pedants delight of actually playing in Crystal Palace this could be a case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater and ending up in a sterile stadium.
As to the game, well it lived up to the Championship's reputation for hurly burly goalmouth action in 3-3 draw which fairly reflected the play.  Neither side could defend with Reading being first to prove this point by losing possession in the centre circle then allowing Darren Ambrose to storm towards goal unimpeded and pick his spot to score within a minute of the kick off.  This was all the incentive Palace needed to tear into the Royals and in an uptempo start the home team should have had the game won with the first twenty minutes. Former Everton starlet James Vaughan was a real thorn in the Royals side severely exposing Shaun "short" Cummings.  The lead could have been doubled when a Danns shot was scooped from what looked like behind the line by keeper McCarthy, and Danns soon made up for this by scoring a second.
On the rare occasions Reading got forward Palace looked equally shaky at the back and were given a lifeline when Shane Long was brought down in the penalty area then converted the spot kick.  Palace were then awarded a penalty themselves within a minute of the restart but a McCarthy save from Ambrose changed the game and from here on in Reading took charge.
In the second half it look like being a question of when not if Reading would equalise and therefore it was no surprise when a spritely run and cross from Long was smartly finished by Jimmy Kebe to prove my pre match call about his precocious talent..  Palace manager Dougie Freedman reacted by substituting the fading Vaughan with Jermaine Easter, which soon paid off when Easter scored the goal of the game with a volley.  However Palace keeper Julian Speroni was now limping heavily and this was finally exposed by the head of Noel Hunt to equalise and seal a point which although well deserved would have pleased neither team.

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