Charlton 0-1 Palace
In the weird world of the SE7 Circus there are cup finals in September, Palace fans are called Nigel’s and Clowns laugh at Eagles. Well, these Nigel’s just ruined your cup final and laughed all the way back to SE25 with three points.
Dougie Freedman continued his unbeaten run in derbies as a second half Kagisho Dikgacoi stonker was enough to see Palace win at the Circus for the first time since 1996. Sound familiar? Of course it does. New Years Eve (our last league away win) saw Palace win at Millwall, 1-0, for the first time since 1996. What Freedman could not achieve as a payer he is making damn sure he achieves as a manager.
To rub salt into the wound, a perfectly good Bradley Wright-Phillips goal was wrongly ruled out for offside and their keeper, up for a corner, had a header cleared off the line in stoppage time, leaving the home fans suicidal. A true “nearly story” that they can tell to the generations of face paint wearers to come.
Zaha and Bolasie tormented them down the flanks (Zaha was so good that Adel Taarabt was waxing lyrical about him on Twitter) and Williams continued where Bolasie left off when he replaced him. Jedinak was a beast in midfield and was my man of the match. Garvan, with his new added steel, once again impressed and made sure of the victory with his goal line clearance in stoppage time.
KG continued his fine goal scoring form with his third goal of the season and for the second time in his Palace career he scores the winner in a televised game. Delaney and Ramage consistently handled the aerial bombardment with consummate ease and Murray was worked tirelessly up front and time after time held the ball up and bought the wingers into play, who often had Parr and Blake marauding past them on the overlap.
Then there was Julian Speroni. Fully back to his best and showing that his early season dip in form was merely that, a dip in form. His save in stoppage time, arching his back and tipping a looped deflection onto his crossbar, was world class and his general presence on crosses comforted the backline. It is amazing the sort of confidence that a solid back line can give to a keeper. With Martin in front of him he looked exposed and nervous, with Delaney in front of him he looks like a superhero once more.
Yes we rode out luck in places, but this was the complete away day derby performance.
From the moment that I turned up at London Bridge and couldn’t get into a packed out Barrow Boy and Banker Pub, I knew that it was going to be an incredible atmosphere. Some one thousand Palace fans filled the pub and the street outside, singing song after the song much to the delight of the passing snap happy tourists.
The signing continued all the way to the ground and once we were in the stadium... Wow!
Within minutes of kick off I had people, who were watching the game on TV, texting me saying that they couldn’t believe how loud the Palace fans were. Believe it people, that is just what we do.
From the first kick, which bought the first round of “We Love You” of the night (backed by flare after flare going off) we simply dominated in the stands. The Holmesdale Fanatics had taken up the perfect position of dead centre in the upper section of the stand, and proceeded in orchestrating a football singing masterpiece. They have their critics but there is no arguing that in England, they are the best at what they do.
Even Steve Parrish was blown away, tweeting “Great Atmosphere”.
The full time whistle is something that I will never forget as a fan and I am sure that all of the players wearing yellow, and probably some wearing red, will never forget either. As the victorious players came over to applaud us, they were greeted with an entire stand singing “We Love You” in full unison, captured beautifully by the TV camera’s as KG and Murray were interviewed on the half way line .
The astonished looks were clear to see on the faces of the new players, they have clearly not experienced anything like it before. Delaney and Bake were grinning like Cheshire cats, Joel Ward was moved into throwing his kit into the crowd and then the perfect end. As they all turned to walk back towards the tunnel Speroni emerged from the crowd of players and gave the Palace fans a huge fist pump, sending everyone into a frenzy of delight.
When people ask me why I spend so much money on going to football week in week out, this is the reason why.
Players continued their outpouring of thanks on Twitter after the game:
Kagisho Dikgacoi: “Great result and thank you everyone for the support... we couldn’t ask for more, you were AMAZING!”
Andre Moritz: “Congrats all my team mates for the great victory today, was a great game and really important 3 points... also, the fans were amazing!”
Yannick Bolasie: “Another win jheeeeze. I hope all the CPFC fans enjoyed themselves.”
Matt Parsons: “Buzzing!! We have the best fans without a doubt!”
Even Ian Wright got in on the act, "Palace fans were magnificient for the boys last night! Loved that big BOOOOM!"
Even with all the celebrations going on, it did not go unnoticed how Dougie Freedman let the players have their moment. He did not get involved and simply watched from the dugout as his players were lavished with praise by the travelling support. Freedman was not to be denied a moment of his own though, as just before he walked through the tunnel at the far end of the field a deafening chorus of “There’s Only One Dougie Freedman” saw him, a mere speck in the distance, turn and applaud sending us all off home ecstatic.
We’re the Pride of South London,
South London’s Number One!