Back in the Day: April 18th - Real Madrid Visit Selhurst Park

Back in the Day

Wednesday 18th April 1962

Crystal Palace 3-4 Real Madrid

Friendly – Att: 24,740

Manager: Arthur Rowe

Arthur Wait opened the programme for the match with a hearty welcome to Real Madrid, who he had paid £10,000 to come to Palace and play this exhibition match:

It is with pride that we welcome the Real Madrid team and officials tonight. We feel honoured that the greatest Club team in Europe should agree to officially open the magnificent floodlights installed at the beginning of this season.

This is the first time that Real Madrid have played in London, or indeed anywhere south of Manchester, so forgive us if we throw our chests out a little for being able to arrange such a fixture, it needed quite a lot of courage

We also extend a warm welcome to our important visitors tonight and hope that they and you will have a very happy, memorable and enjoyable evening.

Below is the newspaper report from the Association Football Correspondent at The Times:

Last night the floodlights of Selhurst Park, the home of Crystal Palace, were officially inaugurated by the presence of Real Madrid, winners of the European Cup for five years and now in their sixth final out of seven in that wide competition. Little could have been more illuminating; nor did it take much imagination to realize that it was the presence of these great artists that lifted the game of Crystal Palace several degrees beyond normal.

Maybe it was only an exhibition, but as such it was a most exciting occasion. In the first half Real Madrid – after taking a lead of two goals through Di Stefano (a header from a chip by Pejada) and Gento, with a lashed shot after a header out by Wood, the Palace centre half – settled down like peacocks to show their feathers on a wet English night. The crowd of 25,000 showed their appreciation of another world of the game, and though Heckman headed in from Byrne’s cross to make it 1-2, Real Madrid could always turn on the tap when they wanted to.

By the half-hour Puskas rammed home a free kick from the edge of the penalty area and a minute or two later a lovely move between Puskas and Di Stefano was consummated by Isidro, the right half. Actually Di Stefano himself could have scored, but his artistic feeling perhaps forced him to make one last brush stroke for the picture. At half-time, with Madrid 4-1 ahead, one realized the depth of their knowledge, how used they are to the game at whatever level it is played. One felt here were adults talking to ‘adolescents.

Real Madrid were late out of the dressing room and someone said: “The Spaniards have declared.” But all the time Byrne was drawing his men on, and in the second half one saw the results of his inspiration. Then Crystal Palace, Finding a new breeze in a new world, rose above themselves. Several substitutions complicated the situation: Lewis at outside left and Glazier in goal for Palace; Vicente in goal. Marquitos at centre half: Pipillo at inside right and Ruiz at right half for Real.

This half belonged to the spirit of Crystal Palace. A great shot after only 10 minutes by Smillie from Summersby’s pass bought them to 2-4. Than a crashing drive by Long, the wing half, brought them within one goal of their distinguished opponents. There it remained. Over the last half-hour Real Madrid pulled out what stops they had to widen the gap, but some magnificent goalkeeping by the youthful Glazier kept them within range.

This was a night to be savoured by all those who made the effort to reach Selhurst Park prepared to see great players in the flesh rather than within the framework of a television set. Real Madrid had come to London for the first time; the Spanish Ambassador had officially declared the floodlights open: and may we hope that the legends of the great Spanish side will inspire Crystal Palace to a new life. This night at least they took one step towards it.

Saturday 18th April 1987

Crystal Palace 1-1 West Brom

League Division Two – Att: 7,127

Manager: Steve Coppell

Saturday 18th April 1998

Crystal Palace 3-1 Derby County

Premier League – Att: 18,101

Manager: Attilio Lombardo

Crystal Palace had taken 4 points from a possible 48 points at Selhurst Park and had lost seven games on the bounce at home in the League. The crowd of just over 18,000 showed that people had long given up on Premier League survival and, as welcome as this first home win was, it served only to delay the inevitable relegation a little longer.

It took 73 minutes for the net to bulge for this first time, but when the goal eventually it was worth the wait. Sasa Curcic made an absolute mockery of Rory Delap’s slide tackle with a display of incredible quick feet, advanced down the left and crossed the ball for Neil Shipperley. The big number nine’s knock down was met by Matt Jansen and Palace led.

7 minutes later Player/Manager Attilio Lombardo was caught in possession but chased back to win the ball back and strode away into the County half. The Italian waited, and waited, for Curcic on the overlap, and once the Serbian arrived, he delivered a perfect pass that Curcic dispatched at the near post. He jumped into the stands, he jumped into the air, he loved it.

Five minutes from time, Kevin Miller went for a stroll in an attempt to claim a corner but ended up in no man’s land after his flap and Lars Bohinen lashed home. Everyone assumed that this was the start of the inevitable comeback that would rob Palace of three points at home yet again. Jonathan Hunt then rattled Miller’s crossbar, and Miller had to be at his best to deny Bohinen from range. It was surely just a matter of time before the equaliser broke red and blue hearts.

Then a mini South London miracle happened. Palace scored a third.

Curcic looked for Lombardo but his pass was slightly off target. The Bald Eagle then clattered into the back of the defending Chris Powell and Selhurst waited for the referee’s whistle. It didn’t come. Lombardo hadn’t waited and his reverse pass found Marcus Bent who slotted home. The relief was palpable in SE25 and the Eagles would manage four more points from the remaining three games at Selhurst Park that year.

If only Zohar had scored that penalty on Boxing Day…

Friday 18th April 2003

Trevor Francis was sacked as Crystal Palace manager by Simon Jordan:

"I'll see who wants the job," said Jordan. "I don't see this role as a poisoned chalice. People will say working for Simon Jordan comes with a guaranteed P45, but that's not really reflective. Steve Coppell walked before I had my feet under the table, Alan Smith had to go, Steve Bruce left of his accord and Francis I've sacked. I just want someone to come in and do their job - gain promotion.

"People know I am very unhappy with the selection of our players under Francis. We have a very strong squad, and we should have done a lot better this season - a lot of lessons need to be learned from injury prevention and transfer policy. I don't want play-offs next year. I want automatic promotion. I need to get the right people in place in order to achieve that."

According to Simon Jordan, Francis' first response when he told him the bad news was; "but it's my birthday!" [technically his birthday was the following day.]

Other Results

What Happened Yesterday?

April 17th

Stern John earned a vital point for Palace at Derby in 2010.

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