Students of nineteenth century English history will know the name “Crystal Palace” as the home to the Great Exhibition of 1851. The cast iron and plate glass structure originally stood in Hyde Park in the centre of London but after the Exhibition closed it was moved and rebuilt on Penge Common, South Norwood where it stood until its destruction by fire in 1936. The building gave its name to a new area of London and it became the venue for the FA Cup final each year.
The owners of the stadium wanted to have a team playing in the historic venue and hence Crystal Palace was born in 1905 and the Club played its matches at the Palace until forced out by the First World War. Six years after the War, they found their permanent home at Selhorst Park where they have played ever since.
Early years saw Palace in the Southern League but in 1920 they became members of the Football League and were the first champions of the Third Division in 1920-21. It took another forty years for Palace to become a fairly regular fixture in the top two tiers of English football. In 1990-91, the last season of the old First Division, Palace were in contention for the League title and eventually finished third, which was for them the highest rung of the ladder that they have reached to date.
Since that time Crystal Palace have been second tier champions and hold the unusual record of winning the playoff finals for promotion to the Premier League no fewer than four times. They have reached the FA Cup final on two occasions, in 1990 and recently in 2016 but have by coincidence twice found themselves up against Manchester United and have failed to land the coveted trophy.
Palace now play in red and blue vertical stripes and have since 1973, acquired a new nickname from the Glaziers being replaced by the Eagles. Let’s look at some of the names most beloved to generations of Palace fans. Jim Cannon has played more games for the team than any other player, clocking up no fewer than 660 appearances in fifteen seasons at Selhurst Park between 1971 and 1988, scoring on his debut against London rivals Chelsea.
Kenny Sansom spent most of his playing time with Arsenal but with the evidence of five fine seasons with the Eagles, having started out in the youth team, many regard him as the club’s finest defender of all time.
Geoff Thomas played six seasons for Palace, making 249 appearances and scoring 35 goals. He was part of the team that finished third in 1990-91 and was captain for the Eagles’ first FA Cup final.
Mark Bright and Ian Wright formed a striking partnership over six years and together they ensured that the goals flowed at Selhurst Park. Wright was to go on to bigger things at Arsenal but is still regarded as the Club’s greatest striker ever.
Under manager Alan Pardew, Palace ended 2015-16 in fifteenth place and struggled at times. However signings such as James Tomkins from West Ham and Christian Benetke from Liverpool may make the club a far more formidable proposition in the season just started.
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