Favourite XI – Strikers
The final instalment of our ‘Favourite XI’ feature is finally here and it is time for a selection of TEB contributors to pick their strikers.
Some will say it is the glory position of the team, players that need to be greedy to be successful and score the goals for the team. The ones that take the adulation from the fans and lead the celebrations.
As we have seen from our previous articles of this feature, that has not always the case as some selections have been of players that have become firm fan favourites.
So, here are the final selections in what has been a fun series of articles. Make sure you check out the choices for the other positions if you haven’t already done so. Let us know is you agree or disagree by commenting below or messaging us on social media.
IAN WRIGHT – My first proper footballing hero. Before he became Ian Wright, Wright, Wright and kissed the Arsenal badge, he was Ian Wright, Ian Wright, Ian Wright – there’s a difference, trust me. He was amazing to watch, could score from anywhere, could lose his head over the slightest incident but always walked around with a smile on his face (unless he was swearing at a ref). Another of Sir Steve’s amazing team of the late 80’s/early 90’s, he came from nowhere (or Dulwich; same thing) to become one of Palace’s top scorers of all time. Was a kick in the you-know-what when he left, he soon made it worse and now he’s a terrible pundit, but it’s hard for me to detach myself from Ian Wright the Palace player.
MATT JANSEN – I’m not all into this fancy 4-2-3-1, 4-3-2-1, man in the hole kind of rubbish so I’m picking another striker, okay? Good. There were loads of players I could’ve picked here but I used a quick guide. How to get Palace fans to love you in three steps:
- Step one? Turn down a bigger club who nobody likes in favour of Palace. Check. Up yours, United.
- Step two? Don’t celebrate like an arse when you score against us. Check. In his case, he looked visibly annoyed that he had when he scored for Blackburn at Selhurst.
- Step three? When the club almost goes bust, stump up some of your own hard-earned. Check again.
GLENN MURRAY – Purely for that 31-goal season alone, Glenn Murray makes my favourite XI. the Cumbria-born striker could hardly hit the target before a wholly surprising hat-trick against Cardiff City seemed to turn him into one of England’s best finishers for a few months. Murray’s goals were vital in Palace’s eventual promotion, although his horrible ACL injury sadly kept him out of the play-off final and most of the club’s first season back in the top-flight. Murray did well in the Premier League but found himself surplus to requirements once Alan Pardew planned to change the style of play, leaving Murray to head back down to the south coast where he now plays for Brighton after a brief spell at Bournemouth.
CLINTON MORRISON – The Ireland international was the main source of goals when I first started going to Selhurst with my dad in the 2006/07 season. James Scowcroft was my original hero back then and I even had a shirt with his name on the back, but I don’t think a now 18-year-old me could live with myself if I included him in a team of my all-time favourite Palace players. Morrison’s goals were the only source of inspiration (apart from Scowcroft) in a below-average season under Peter Taylor, before he helped guide the club into the play-offs the year after – being pipped to a place at Wembley by Bristol City.
ANDY JOHNSON – Does this really need explaining? Yes, we know the moments – 21 Premier League goals, four hat tricks including one against the scum, more than a goal every other game. The stats alone mean that I couldn’t leave him out. He nearly kept us in the Premier League by himself! But it was more than that. It was the pure hard work that made him the player he was. When he arrived, he had blistering pace, and more importantly for winning penalties, acceleration, but not a lot else. By the time he left, he was an England international and a club legend. AJ is one of a rare breed of player who didn’t make it big because of raw talent but because he improved and improved and improved until he was a top class player.
CLINTON MORRISON – My original hero – and he came back too. Goals, goals and more goals. Admittedly, the vast majority were from inside the six yard box but only Glenn Murray has managed to consistently get in those positions before or since. I’d love to show Connor Wickham (arguably a player with a lot more to his game) a video of Clinton. He absolutely loved this club and I’m gutted for him that Warnock forced him out before he became our record post-war goal scorer.
NEIL SHIPPERLEY – The man whose cheeky tap in, rocketed Crystal Palace back to the Premier League in the 2003/2004 season. A satisfying victory over West Ham at the Millennium Stadium which saw the captain take us to glory. I will never ever forget that moment in Cardiff and will keep it as probably, one of my top ten all-time Palace moments. Shipps was never known for flare or style or skill, but he played his part in our history.
MAROUANE CHAMAKH – When Holloway signed Chamakh back in 2013, for me it was one of those signings that made you think, have we really signed him?! Okay, perhaps not on the scale of a player like Lombardo, or Cabaye or Benteke, but still. He had been huge at Bordeaux and made some strong appearances for scoring some great goals (although not that many) for Arsenal. We had signed a player with Premier League experience!! Like many strikers that Palace sign, the Moroccan star was made of glass and often spent a lot of time injured. However, Palace fans took him under their wing honouring him with his own song. I loved that Chamakh was ours but unfortunately he never really got the chances that I and many fans hoped that he would, mainly due to his injuries. Who could forget that spectacular nose break, when it was half falling off, like the scene in South Park featuring Michael Jackson? As well as his magnificent haircuts, (some would argue that he is more renowned for those than his football) he contributed to some fantastic wins, scoring a total of 7 goals in his 60 appearances for us. I truly wish he could have stayed with us longer than he did.
ANDY JOHNSON and GLENN MURRAY
A really difficult one this, because most of you are probably wondering, what about Wright and Bright, probably the best front two we’ve ever had. The reason they are not here in my team is because I wasn’t alive to experience them, so these are the two forwards I believe, in my lifetime, have achieved the most with our club.
Andy Johnson was fantastic, he just knew where the back of the net was and consistently put the ball in it. Second only to Thierry Henry for goals scored in the solitary Premier League campaign in 2005, one of our top scorers consistently for many seasons, and again, another model professional, the only downside I can really think of is his tendency to get injured. This is the kind of player Palace have been crying out for in recent seasons, let’s hope Benteke is the new Andy Johnson.
Finally, a player who is almost completely opposite to Johnson, Murray struggled to find the net in the Premier League, but is the sole reason we are where we are now. A championship striker for sure, (it’s telling how many he’s scored for Brighton already this season), but one that always tried his best, and played a fantastic role in the 3-3 with Liverpool in 2014. Let go at the right time, he had the right attitude, the right demeanour, and the ability to change a game in our favour.
IAN WRIGHT – The first footballer that I considered an absolute hero of mine. His formidable partnership with Mark Bright almost comes hand in hand with this nomination such was their telapaphy when playing up front together. The sheer energy that Wrighty showed whenever he played was infectious and his style looked like he was always on his toes, ready for the next opportunity to come along however slight it may be. But Wrighty made the merest glimmer of a chance into a real opportunity to score. There are too many goals to pick one or too from although the two off the bench in the FA Cup Final are both right up there, particularly when you consider the talented striker had fractured his leg on two separate occassions that season. The second of which was right in front of the Arthur Wait stand which almost had me in tears. Wrighty was the real deal and went on and proved it beyond Palace even if he did not get the international recognition that he fully deserved.
DOUGIE FREEDMAN – The decision to select Dougie was almost as simple as the one to pick Wrighty. Another instantly likable player thanks to his hard work and pure talent in front of goal. In his first season after signing from Barnet, he scored 20 times but his first stint at the club came to quite an abrupt end. He became a victim of the Eagles success after promotion as he was sold to Wolverhampton Wanderers. The timing of his return could not have come at a better time as he scored his most valuable goal for the club against Stockport County to ensure survival. However, it is often forgotten his contribution of a brace of goals away at Portsmouth in the midweek beafore to set up that fighting chance at Stockport. Not quite as iconic, but his first hat-trick for the club at Wolves is also very fondly remembered.