Back in the Day: May 11th - Crystal Palace 2-0 Burnley 1979
Friday 11th May 1979
Crystal Palace 2-0 Burnley
League Division Two – Att: 51,482
Manager: Terry Venables
Crystal Palace went into the final game of the season knowing exactly what they had to do. Sunderland, Stoke and Brighton, who held the three promotion places, had finished their campaigns. A point would see 4th placed Palace promoted at the expense of Sunderland – a victory would see the Eagles crowned Champions ahead of rivals Brighton.
The previous day had seen local Brighton newspapers bragging about the champagne that the Brighton team would be drinking, thirty thousand feet in the air, as they flew for a team holiday during the Palace match.
Officially 51,482 were in attendance on the night, with people who were there claiming that unofficially it must have been over 60,000 – either way it is a record that still stands and is unlikely ever to be beaten.
After a goalless first half and still no goals deep into the second, it looked like Palace would have to settle for a third-placed finish. Instead, fourteen minutes from time a Vince Hilaire cross was met by the head of Ian Walsh and, despite being around fifteen yards from goal, his effort flew past Alan Stevenson and into the top corner.
The first goal bred confidence, and the Burnley goal had to face a barrage. Moments later Dave Swindlehurst made it two, scoring with a deflected effort after a powerful run and already the Palace fans were spilling on to the pitch in celebration.
Promotion was won and 'the team of the eighties' was born.
In 2016, Vince Hilaire and Ian Walsh remembered this classic on the Holmesdale Radio Preview Podcast:
Saturday 11th May 1991
Crystal Palace 3-0 Manchester United
League Division One – Att: 25,301
Manager: Steve Coppell
The final day of the incredible 1990/91 season brought Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United to Selhurst Park, and with United set to play the Cup Winners Cup Final a few days later, a weakened team was fielded – the Eagles promptly thrashed them.
Ian Wright (3) poked home his 25th goal of the season early on and a second half John Salako brace (58, 71), the second a stunner from 25 yards, meant that the Steve Coppell’s men would finish third.
This should have been enough for a UEFA Cup place with Liverpool banned from European competition. Instead, it had been announced the week before that the Reds’ ban was to be lifted two years early – probably because no one at UEFA had ever heard of Crystal Palace Football Club – and a first European experience was cruelly ripped away from Coppell’s men.
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