There Is Life Left In Palace Yet But Little Room For Error

Many different words have been used to describe Crystal Palace this season. ‘Shambolic’ is one. ‘Disastrous’ is another.

‘Disgraceful’, I’m told, was the word on everyone’s lips after the humiliation at the hands of Bristol City earlier this week. Ah, ‘humiliation’. They keep coming. Sometimes, people have been using words in combination to accurately vent their displeasure.

The beauty of the English language is that there might be an infinite amount of words to accurately describe the feeble on pitch displays the fans have been subjected to.

There was a glimmer of hope after Chelsea that perhaps things had clicked. Maybe, just maybe, Roy Hodgson’s methods had been embraced and executed. The fans who have “never had it better” urged their team to maintain control as they attempted to turn that fabled old corner.

What a week that was. No longer were Palace fans cast aside in the workplace, the go-to recipients of smart comments and piss taking. Palace put Chelsea to the sword and deserved all the spoils. The swagger of our fans was evident all over London in the days that followed. Their beating outward chests were often seen by neutral observers before the triumphant grin animating their faces was.

And yet, what followed was predictably predictable, even by Palace’s lowly standards. An excruciating loss to Newcastle was followed up with a smorgasbord of excrement at Ashton Gate.

Some feelings are beyond words. Many people talked of being deflated after the defeats given the false glimmer of hope afforded by the Chelsea win. But deflated doesn’t quite do it justice. More colour was needed to fully capture the mood deep within the depths of the soul.

My girlfriend recently celebrated a birthday, and the remnants of that night have been loitering in her flat for the last week. Various cards, presents and the helium filled balloons that survived the descent back to childhood for a few thirty-somethings were a reminder of a simpler time.

While one main balloon proudly reached for the ceiling there were two smaller ones straddling the floor. They weren’t quite fully free of helium, however. Although bereft of any relevance and poise the two balloons lay there, merely existing. The once glossy sheen from their fully inflated forms had been cruelly replaced by a universal shrivel, not too dissimilar to a rather well travelled pair of testicles.

It was hard not to be drawn towards this imagery and what it all represented. I remembered how graceful these phallic foes once were in their youth, as they revelled in the short lived highs of the party. Did they know they were peaking? Did they know that that was the nadir of their existence? I suspect not. They were getting a taste of what it’s like being Palace currently.

Here they were almost two weeks later, reduced to a shell of their former self. Not quite deflated enough to be written off but not quite existing enough to matter. For most in that situation, a pharmaceutical solution would inject some rigour into those floppy hopes. In the absence of a footballing Viagra, Palace are hoping Wilfried Zaha will help them rise to the occasion and save their season.

Of course the season is by no means over. Some crucial games between here and Christmas attempt to lure Palace fans back into a position of daring to dream. There is a team here that should be capable of staying in the league, but the combination of on-field and off-field calamities over 24 months mean the cracks may be too great to fill.

If it’s of any significance, those balloons made their debut the evening after the Chelsea game on the 14th October. They lived like kings on the one and only day that Palace fans did the same. While we mercifully let the air out of those fallen giants during the week, I couldn’t help but feel that there is life left in Palace yet. However with very little room for error, you fear that the next blow might be fatal.



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Donogh Hurley

Donogh Hurley

Donogh is a stout swilling, pasta eating, Palace enthusiast. Arthur Wait season ticket devotee hailing from West Cork, Ireland. Exiled in London. Enjoys a good ramble. Has a mean dinosaur impression.

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