Two years and nine months since our last visit to Hillsborough, we travel to Sheffield tomorrow, as a club in an entirely different state of mind. Whilst the game could give our chances of promotion a significant boost, there isn’t a single travelling fan that would dare to compare the two fixtures in terms of importance.
It’s quite incredible to think, that there will only be one survivor of the team that took the field in May 2010 when the line-ups are announced tomorrow afternoon, in the ever-present shape of Julian Speroni. The likes of Hill, Derry and Lawrence who played such a huge role in keeping the club alive, all departed that same summer, leaving the new owners and George Burley attempting to re-build a truly threadbare squad. It was a day that I’m certain none of the players will ever forget, but there are very few lasting memories in terms of personnel that still frequent the training ground.
There have been occasions since that day, when I have felt it would be of real benefit to have some of the older faces around the place, just to let some of the newer recruits know what that day, and that season as a whole, meant to the people who care about this club. It was a six month spell which will always remain crystallised in my mind, the togetherness which brought the fans and playing staff closer than ever before, away games at Vicarage Road and Glanford Park bringing results which cemented our faith in the players desire to succeed and the almighty effort which saw us hold onto our second tier status at the ground we will re-visit tomorrow afternoon. It was an emotional roller-coaster, with the swings in momentum so great, that mere words simply cannot do it justice.
Julian Speroni isn’t the most demonstrative of people, for the most part he keeps his emotions well in check on the pitch, and from what I gather, he’s the same when away from football, but it might serve us well if he was to get up and say a few words to the team in the dressing room before they step onto the pitch tomorrow afternoon. In a recent interview with Palace Player, Julian said that it will always be the game he remembers as the most important moment of his career, and I’m sure his words would resonate with his teammates, were he to speak to them about the importance of that day in this club’s history.
Perhaps it’s an overly nostalgic idea in the cut and thrust world of professional football, but there really is no better person than him to pass on the message of the events which took place on 2nd May 2010. After 294 appearances and nine years with us, he knows what it means.
Here’s today’s round-up.
All the news from SE25 in the last 24 hours
The club’s online video service, Palace Player has been voted the best in the The Championship.
Crystal Palace’s online television channel, Palace Player, has won an award after its content was judged the best in the Championship following an independent panel of judges reviewed entries from all clubs in the division.
The judges had a range of videos entered from all clubs and each entry was marked out of the following: editorial worth (40%), production quality (30%), originality (15%) and the overall level of Player content (15%).
Mile Jedinak has spoken at length to an Australian website about the success of Tony Popovic and his hopes for the future with us.
Popovic played a key role in persuading then Palace manager Dougie Freedman to lure Jedinak from Turkey’s Super Lig to London, at the start of last season.
“I’m sure they asked Tony about me. However it’s one thing earning a good reference but you’ve got to back it up yourself with good performances,” Jedinak said.
“But with the influence he had around the place they would have taken his word very seriously.”
Jedinak’s Palace side is fourth in the Championship, nine points behind leader Cardiff City and four behind Hull City, which it meets in what is shaping as a decisive match early next month.
The top two teams will go up automatically and the next four will fight for the remaining spot via the lottery of the play-offs.
“It’s going all right at the moment and from the season we’re having we are in a good position,” Jedinak said.
“We know there’s a lot to go yet to be where we want to be but we are heading in the right direction.
“We are still in touch with the top two but you really cannot discount anyone. It’s very tight and I’d say any one of the top 12 teams can make a late surge and be promoted.
“We have some important games coming up, particularly the home game with Hull early next month.
“But we have learned this year that we cannot afford to focus too much on single games.
“The Hull game could affect our position in the table but it won’t shape our season.”
Jonny Williams is proud of what Wilfried Zaha has achieved, having grown up with the winger during his time at the club.
“Wilfried’s been a great role model for everyone at Palace, to come all the way through the youth system,” he said.
“It’s special for me to see his journey as well and be a part of that. It’s great to see what he’s achieved – a £15 million move to Manchester United.
“For an academy product it’s great for him and the club. We’re all proud of him, so hopefully he can keep doing what he’s doing and hopefully we’ll get promoted as well.”
With a few Palace fans looking at Williams to fill Zaha’s boots as their creative drive going forward, the youngster is quick to dismiss any expectations put upon him and insists he tries to play his own way.
“I’m not an exact replacement for Wilfried as we play in different positions, and we’re different players,” he said.
“I enjoy playing with him and when he’s gone it will be a shame.
“It’s also weird to think one day I’ll be playing against him.
“But I don’t really feel pressure, I just go out and play my game.
“The manager tells me to get on the ball and play, so that’s what I try and do – I don’t really try to think about it too much.”
The official preview of tomorrow’s game is here, with Wednesday having only lost one of their last 11 games, it will undoubtedly prove to be a real test.
Dave Jones’ side have taken more points on their travels this season than they have at Hillsborough, and recorded successive draws in the past week away at Derby and Birmingham. Their last home game saw them beat Brighton 3-1 including a goal from recent signing Leroy Lita who has netted in three of his four Owls appearances.
Top scoring for the Yorkshire side so far this season is Michail Antonio with eight to his name, including their goal in the 2-1 defeat at Selhurst, and Palace should also keep an eye on centre-back Roger Johnson who has chipped in with a further five.
Ian Holloway has spoken to the press and feels we’re in with as good a chance as anyone of getting promoted. Quite rightly, he’s spoken about the improvement during the last year as a real source of pride for the club.
It feels like we’ve turned the corner. Everybody has a little bit of an up and down and we couldn’t seem to see through a win or we’d have a bad start. I think the lads have really enjoyed having people back in, KG is back and give us a lot of belief. We’ve had a spell where we’ve had a few injured but I think the additions of Jazz Richards, Stephen Dobbie, Kev Phillips and Jacob Butterfield have really helped the group. Alex Nimely’s been unlucky but Jedinak and KG back as well has really given the lads belief. Hopefully we can get momentum and a push going and who’s to say where that might take us.