TEB Interview – Peter Redman
Friend of the site and Palace fan Peter Redman had a chat with us about his new venture about another of his sporting passions.
Q. So let us begin with the most obvious question for you, why Crystal Palace?
I am a local boy, born in Croydon, first and foremost, but it almost went wrong! My Mum was a Palace fan, even worked for the club when she was younger, and got my Dad to take me to a game. Palace won 6-0. At the time, it was not so much the result, it was just going to live football for the first time.
Now, my Dad was a Chelsea fan and the following week, Chelsea were playing Charlton Athletic at Selhurst Park and he took me along and plonked me in the away end. He was clearly hoping I would pick Chelsea. The game was goalless, but to my Dad it was a defeat. Palace had won my affections!
Q. Who is your favourite ever Palace player and why?
A tough one but only one man can ever truly encompass the way this club has been since I have supported them – Geoff Thomas. He was everything this club demands in a player – commitment, passion and, we often forget, he was a bloody good player, too! Even since he left Palace, he has been close to us and the downs and ups he has had, and fought through, are an amazing achievement in themselves. He is a true legend.
Q. How would you assess the last five years at the club?
It is hard to say anything negative about the club really. I did not like some of the things the club did last season, but they have worked hard to right so many wrongs. We have been up, up and up. As a typical Palace fan, I do not expect it to last, but I will enjoy it while it is here. We won at Chelsea two weeks ago, and the club were so shocked they got the score wrong in the programme. We have grown up, but it is good to know we can still make the childish mistakes our fans know and love!
Q. You were a mascot in one of the biggest games in the clubs history?
Oh dear, yes. You have seen the pictures of the short shorts then? Deary me! At the time my parents worked in the family section at Palace and we took a coach to every away game. Half way to Blackburn we stopped at a service station and were told the club did not have a mascot for the game! All the kids put their names in a hat and mine was drawn out! I had been mascot earlier in the season (under similar circumstances when the lad was unable to attend through illness!) and we had drawn 1-1 with Shrewsbury and I felt somehow responsible. Well, after a 3-1 defeat I was beside myself and vowed never to wear really tight shorts again.
It all turned out alright though, other than my mother belting me around the ear when I invaded the pitch when Wrighty scored the third at Selhurst!
Q. Where do you see Palace in five years time?
Hmm, I am a pessimist and this club has a bit of form for grabbing defeat from the jaws of victory. I would love us to get into Europe, just once, just properly. None of this Intertoto rubbish and I do not care how we do it. Sneak in through the Fair Play league? Absolutely! Ultimately though, I do not care, I will be around and it is always nice to visit new grounds lower down those leagues.
Q. Like me, I know you are a fan of a multitude of sports but rugby is a big passion of yours. Did the interest start at an early age too?
The complete opposite actually. I was fed up one day at work, it must have been late 2002, and decided I needed a proper holiday. I had always been a sports fan so I looked at going to the Cricket World Cup, which was in South Africa in 2003. I had never really thought about going there, so it sounded interesting, but the Rugby World Cup that year was in Australia. I had always loved the idea of going to work there so it seemed like a good excuse. My brother turned 18 in 2003, so he came with me and we had a great three weeks following England from Perth to Melbourne, with some other games in Sydney too. It was brilliant and I was hooked.
Q. Do you follow a club team? If so, perhaps you could tell us a little about them.
Sort of. I am a Wasps fan. I say sort of because they are difficult to follow when they move around so often. My bosses were big Wasps fans and they really got me involved going to see them. I was lucky that when I really started watching, Wasps were one of the best teams in Europe. In 2003/04 they won the Heineken Cup and I was fortunate to see the semi-final in Dublin (I have never been so drunk, and slept so little!) and the final at Twickenham, I sat in the players area.
Recently, they have taken over the Ricoh Arena, home of Coventry City. It took a lot to get the fans onside, but the latest reports actually refer to Wasps as one of the richest clubs in Europe now because of the extra things they can do with their own stadium. Perhaps it is a new dawn for the club.
Q. Are there any similarities between rugby and football and is there anything the other could learn from?
People are all too quick to criticise fans of the other, but many people I know seem to adequately find room in their lives for both, and chuck in cricket, too! People try to divide them by class, but the fact is that 99% of people going to games want to have a few beers, watch a good game and go home happy.
The main difference between the two for me is the respect given to referees in rugby, but even this is on the slide. There was a time when the ref was always ‘Sir‘, even at amateur level, and even when you were swearing at them! World Rugby have told referees to toughen up on back-chat during this World Cup, but it is nothing like the play acting, bellowing and intimidation that footballers get away with.
On the other side, rugby needs to learn to throw itself open to expansion. You get to a football World Cup and maybe only three or four teams could win it, but dozens could make the quarter finals. In rugby, the ‘Tier 2‘ nations, as they are known, do not get enough exposure or game time against the big nations. Brett Gosper, the new CEO of World Rugby, has vowed to change that. We will see.
Q. I can imagine you are looking forward to the World Cup but do you think England have a realistic chance being the hosts?
Ali Williams, a former New Zealand international, said this week that the home crowd in England was vindictive and Twickenham was one of the worst places he had played at. That says everything. We are not the best squad by a long way but the home advantage is massive. If this team gets on a roll, we can do it.
Q. Which two teams do you tip to reach the final?
My heart wants England versus New Zealand. I hate tipping my own team, even Palace, so it feels weird calling for England to go all the way, but I think we really can.
Q. Tell us a little about your new blog and how it came about and what you have planned over the coming weeks?
After thinking long and hard about the World Cup, I went all in and bought every ticket I could get my hands on. I have been wanting to do a rugby blog for a while, based more about club rugby, but I just could not keep up with the comings and goings. For the World Cup, I decided to give it a go and it has been pretty good fun so far. TEB’s very own Jack Fitzgerald has been helping me out too.
The coming weeks will see me all over the country watching games, trying to get to meet players, fans from around the world. I am hoping that my blog can reflect what a tremendous occasion this is and what an honour it is for England to be hosts.
I will also be setting up a competition to predict the scores and there will be prizes on offer, too. You can check that out on The Fight For Billy.
Q. And finally, tell us where we can find the blog and how readers can interact with you throughout the competition?
My blog is The Fight For Billy and there are already articles there about beer, kits and predictions. I would love more people to get involved so if you are interested in writing an article or meeting up along the way, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact me on Twitter.