We all know what happened on Saturday. Palace’s record without Wilfried Zaha starting is not great.
In fact, it is downright awful. Once the news broke of his injury early on Saturday morning, many Palace fans feared the worst. And the worst is what we got.
Christian Benteke missed chances. Again. Luka Milivojevic looked over-run in midfield. Again. Please don’t get me started on what Roy Hodgson is thinking in continuing to start Jeffrey Schlupp over Max Meyer. I could go on and on about why Saturday is the low point of the season thus far, but I won’t. The match is over. We lost. 34 games are left to be played.
The real low point of the season came in the days following the loss and the issue I wanted to discuss in this latest article for TEB is the continued spat between the Holmesdale Fanatics and the club, and specifically with chairman Steve Parish.
Both parties have released statements regarding the future of the club and the rabid fan base that used to occupy Block B at Selhurst Park. I may be almost 4,000 miles away from the action and my opinion may not matter to some because I have only been to one Palace game in my lifetime due to my location. However, after reading both statements, I am prepared to take a side.
Before I share that thought though, let me share with you my experience of my one and only game at Selhurst.
It was a cold and rainy day in late March and Liverpool rolled into town. I was so excited for the match that I was one of the first to enter the stadium. I sat in my seat in Block Z of the Arthur Wait stand. Row 30, seat 232 to be precise. Very much near the Holmesdale Fanatics.
Palace scored an early goal from the penalty spot earned by Zaha and converted by Luka. I got to belt out “We Love You” like any true Palace fan and it was the greatest moment of my sporting fandom life. As everyone knows, Palace ended up losing that game when Mo Salah calmly took a cross and slotted the ball into the lower left corner in the closing minutes.
Yes, Palace lost, but I remember the feeling throughout the game that we could pull it off. Even with Benteke missing chance after chance there was a belief and a glimmer of hope. My personal opinion is that hope/belief/feeling came directly from the Holmesdale Fanatics and their never ending barrage of noise that kept the entire crowd engaged and waiting to explode.
That feeling has gone.
Palace have played two home games so far this campaign and by the sound that comes through my television thousands of miles away, you wouldn’t know it. The atmosphere is lost. Fans are lacking direction and have lost their voice. Palace needs the HF.
I’ve read both statements with the club tweeting out theirs on Sunday (which they have pinned to their tweeter feed), followed by two coming from the HF in the days that have followed. Based on just reading the statements alone, it is easy to see which group to side with.
The statement by the club came off as petty and spiteful while the words from the HF came off as hopeful and inclusive. Playing devils advocate for a quick moment, I can put myself in Parish’s shoes. After each home match fans have clamored and begged for the return of the HF and that has to upset the chairman, and that is how it came off in the statement. There is no doubt that Parish loves Palace, he is a fan just like us. He wants to take Palace to the next level. Every Palace fan can acknowledge this, at least I’d hope so.
This is why Parish needs to step up and work with the Holmesdale Fanatics. The statement that they released made me proud to support the red and blue. Our fans are unlike any in the Premier League, perhaps in all of Europe. Palace is not a big club by any stretch of the imagination. The fans, however, are worthy of any top club in any league.
The vision the HF have for the club supersedes anything that I have seen from the club. Remember the display for the FA Cup final in 2015? Of course you do. It was amazing and spectacular. It was Palace.
Imagine that display, but for 19 games a season. The entire Holmesdale decked out in Palace pride. A wall of sound willing on our players each and every game. There are other Palace blogs and sites that have run polls across social media over the last few days and overwhelmingly fans would give up their seat in the Holmesdale if it meant that the HF returned.
Think about that for a moment. Fans, doing what is best for the club at any cost. That is why I love this club and enjoy sharing my views and feelings each week right here on TEB.
This is the greatest club, in the greatest league, with the greatest fans. Mr Chairman, the ball is firmly in your court. Do what is best for the future of this club and take it to the next level.
UP THE PALACE!