If you truly love a football club, the chances are, you’ll spend the vast majority of your time worrying about them. It’s the constant fretting over results, goal difference, injuries and upcoming fixtures that plays a vital role in ensuring you remain engrossed in the day-to-day goings of the team you follow. It’s an addiction and in many cases, it’s the ultimate example of hope over adversity, not that any of us would have it any other way.
In truth, Crystal Palace fans have done far more worrying than most over the last few years, from the mundane everyday business of avoiding relegation to nearly going out of business once or twice, the last 20 years of our history have been constantly stalked by impending mayhem. Just when we have looked as though we’re getting a level of stability on all fronts, a bombshell has been dropped. Steve Bruce leaving us high and dry for the bright lights of Birmingham, Iain Dowie taking the club to the top of a mad roller-coaster ride in 2004, only to send us back to earth with a bump when he ran off to the circus in 2006 and the disastrous conclusion of Simon Jordan’s spell in charge providing just a few examples of the incredible highs and lows we’ve encountered since Bob the Builder was topping the charts.
Even the arrival of four shrewd businessmen with the best interests of the club at heart has been tinged with elements of instability. From the notoriously weak-willed performances the team produced under George Burley to the abysmal run of form which spanned the end of last season and the beginning of this, acting as a catalyst for the first serious rumblings of discontent in the Dougie Freedman era, it’s seldom been plain sailing.
That being said, the beginning of September saw the figurative flicking of a switch in relation to our form. Sitting joint bottom of the table going into the month, with no points from three games, we took on a very confident Sheffield Wednesday side and won 2-1. This was followed by a win away at Charlton, a draw against Nottingham Forest and as of last night, three wins on the spin against Cardiff, Bolton and Wolves respectively, putting us at the very top of the form table for the last six games and up to 6th in the Championship, things really couldn’t be much better.
Whilst I can understand those supporters who are quick to preach caution in the aftermath of such rapid progress, I do also think it’s important to highlight the joy associated with allowing yourself to dream of success as and when you can. It’s what boys and girls around the world do when they first fall in love with the game, giving millions the opportunity of believing they can one day emulate their heroes, achieving all they have and more. It’s what grips this country every time we make it into the knockout stages of a World Cup or a European Championship and it’s what keeps supporters of clubs up and down the country unmercifully coming back for more.
We’ve certainly been put through the wringer in the last few years and as such, I’d say we’re more than entitled to allow our minds to wander to thoughts of greater triumphs in the weeks and months to come, if only for a little while. With the squad we now have in place, it’s clear to see that we’ve got quality in depth and the team spirit to take on anyone in the division, having beaten a number of very good teams already this term. It’s a very odd feeling but I am quite enjoying it, that’s for sure.
Which brings me back to the title of this piece, taken from the famous poem, “If” by Rudyard Kipling. Amongst its numerous fantastic musings lies this thought, which in my mind at least, perfectly sums up the way we should all look upon this fine upturn in form. There’s no shame in dreaming, as long you don’t allow them to completely engulf your every thought, it’s what being a football fan is all about, really.
Enjoy it whilst you can Palace fans, it may not stay the same for long.