Back in the Day: May 17th - Last Day Survival, Final Agony and Semi Final Joy
Tuesday 17th May 1983
Crystal Palace 1-0 Burnley
League Division Two – Att: 22,743
Manager: Alan Mullery
The season had finished for the rest of Division Two, and the last relegation spot would be taken by either Palace or their opponents, Burnley. A draw would be enough for the Eagles, but Ian Edwards (62) strike just after the hour saw Palace safe.
Amazingly, over 22,000 fans turned up to witness the battle – over double the average attendance of 10,034. That number would diminish to 8,119 the following season as Palace fans continued to vote with their feet over the employment of Mullery.
Thursday 17th May 1984
Dave Bassett is appointed the new manager of Crystal Palace Football Club, replacing the sacked Alan Mullery. At just four days, it would prove to be the shortest managerial tenure in the history of English football - a record that would last until 2007.
Thursday 17th May 1990
Crystal Palace 0-1 Manchester United
FA Cup Final Replay – Att: 80,000
Manager: Steve Coppell
Mark Bright: “That what was our chance, we didn’t realise, but that was our chance.”
Ian Wright: “What I know now, I know that Man United would have went back and said ‘listen boys we got off with it there’… they were more professional… we didn’t get a sniff.”
The above quotes are taking from the Wright and Bright interview on the centenary DVD. After the high of the 3-3 on the previous Saturday, Palace were brought crashing back down to Earth as Manchester United won 1-0 in the replay, thanks to a Lee Martin strike in the 61st minute.
Ian Wright might have been a little unjust in saying that “we didn’t get a sniff” as Les Sealy pulled off a stunning save to deny an Andy Gray free-kick – but it was the only threatening moment of note for Palace who would have to wait 26 years until their next FA Cup final.
Monday 17th May 2004
Sunderland 2-1 Crystal Palace
4-4 on Aggregate – Palace win 5-4 on penalties
League Division One Play-Off Semi-Final 2nd Leg – Att: 34,536
Manager: Iain Dowie
After the trouble that marred the end of the first leg, Palace fans had to travel to Sunderland for the 2nd leg with their wits about them – but my God was the trip worth it.
At half-time, however, it certainly did not seem that way. Mart Poom had brilliantly denied Julian Gray, and Aki Riihilahti had rattled the Sunderland upright, but three minutes before the break, Kevin Kyle (42) pulled the scores level on aggregate, and three minutes later Marcus Stewart (45) made it two nil with a brilliant header.
My Nokia 3210 went crazy in my pocket at half-time. I assumed that it was friends trying to take the piss out of me. Upon reading the messages later, I found out that they were telling me that I was the “face of desolation” as Sky Sports went to an ad break.
Thankfully for Palace, this was the first season in which away goals were scrapped from the competition – meaning that one goal would enough to take the game to extra time.
Palace got cross after cross into the box but could not find the equaliser. Dowie threw on Darren Powell late on as Sunderland dropped deeper and deeper and the centre-back joined the forwards at the top of the field. Suddenly centre forward Kevin Kyle was playing centre back against centre back Darren Powell who was playing centre forward.
Powell headed over, Gray fired wide and Powell fired over from the edge. Still, the equaliser evaded Palace.
Then disaster struck. Julian Gray broke clear with the ball in the 86th minute. Under intense pressure from two Sunderland defenders, and a foul from John Oster, his touch was slightly heavy and in his desire to try and find the goal he put in a reckless tackle on Jason McAteer. Out came the second yellow card and Palace were down to ten men. McAteer’s “Go on, fuck off” that could be clearly lip read in the aftermath would put in the Palace fans hated books forever more.
Four minutes of injury time were announced and Shaun Derry let fly with a free kick from 30 yards. Poom got down well to save but could only turn it behind for a corner. Then, madness.
Derry raced over to take the corner that he curled to the back post. Poom started to come but Neil Shipperley simply pushed him to the ground, and there was Powell at the back post, showing more desire than his marker, to head the ball home! The man, who before the few minutes he had played in the 1st leg had not played for Palace since the 21st of October, jumped up and into the crowd. Bodies went flying; a Palace fan famously got knocked out of his wheelchair and on the sideline Dowie was going mental.
But this meant an extra half an hour, with ten men. Surely Sunderland would regroup and take advantage of their extra man. Kyle came closest but Nico Vaesen saved well with his feet and the game went to penalties.
Iain Dowie gathered his troops into a huddle. How I would have loved to have been in the middle of that to hear what the, undoubtedly, inspirational leader had to say.
At the opposite end of the ground, it was Sunderland to take first:
- John Oster: MISSED – hit the inside of the left post.
- Andy Johnson: SCORED – Power beats Poom down the middle.
- Tommy Smith: SCORED – Sends the keeper the wrong way.
- Dougie Freedman: SCORED – Poom gets a hand to it but he cannot keep it out.
- Phil Babb: SCORED – Incredible penalty for a central defender.
- Neil Shipperley: SCORED – Hammered past Poom down the middle.
- Carl Robinson: SCORED – Sends Vaesen the wrong way.
- Tony Popovic: SCORED – Into the side netting, giving Poom no chance and joining Babb in the incredible category.
- Gary Breen: SCORED – Low to his left, Vaesen guesses wrong.
- Shaun Derry: SAVED – Derry misses the chance to send Palace to Cardiff.
- Jason McAteer: SAVED – Vaesen brilliantly denies the dickhead low down to his right.
- Wayne Routledge: SAVED – Poom saves again in identical fashion to the Derry penalty.
- Jeff Whitley: SAVED – The fourth kick in a row in saved. Whitley stutters, Vaesen is not fooled.
- Michael Hughes: SCORED – He looked like the most relaxed man in Sunderland.
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