My walk down memory lane continues as I look back at my 24 years and over 600 games of watching Palace.
For each home game, I am reflecting on the highs and lows that I have seen against our opposition. Some clubs, I have a rich history of great Palace moments, and for others, there has been limited encounters but I will try to capture the emotion, context and excitement of the Palace life.
Our overall record against Leicester – just like my personal record – is very even (our 25 wins versus their 26). Thankfully, I missed out on our last minute pain at Wembley in 1996 as my first game was the Play Off Final a year later.
A couple of years later, in 1998, with Palace unable to win a home game for love nor money, my Dad took me to our third round tie against Leicester as a reward for learning my times tables – and we were both well rewarded with a superb Bruce Dyer hat-trick.
Fast forward twelve years to our new beginning under CPFC 2010 and we started by racing to another 3-0 lead. This time, with a seventeen year old Wilfried Zaha scoring on his full debut! Yes, in true Palace style, Leicester got two back but it couldn’t ruin the occasion! The only times tables I was doing that day was £4.50 x 4 at the bar as I bought rounds to celebrate post match!
Another special Leicester game was in 2012 when our manager-less side won 2-1 away at the league leaders on our way to promotion. That win was the first of three in the space of five years at Leicester. Before our recent golden spell, we’d had just three league wins there in our 107 year history!
Palace…5 (Zaha, McArthur, Loftus-Cheek, van Aanholt, Benteke)
28th April 2018, Premier League
Crystal Palace – Hennessey, Ward, Tomkins, Sakho, van Aanholt, McArthur (Schlupp 83′), Milivojevic, Cabaye, Loftus-Cheek (Lee 86′), Townsend (Benteke 86′) Zaha
Leicester City – Hamer, Albrighton, Morgan, Maguire, Chilwell, Mahrez, Choudhury (Adrien Silva 45′) Ndidi (Dragovicat 51′), Gray, Iheanacho (Diabatéat 45′) Vardy
This game was what football is all about. The perfect blend of a glorious result with a personal meaning. Yes, of course, part of the joy was the five goals that tore Leicester apart in the joint biggest Palace win that I’ve ever seen but this game had a further importance for me. It was the first time that I took my niece and nephew to a match. Before hand, I was nervous and not only because we needed a win to more or less secure our survival in the top flight but more than anything, I wanted my young family members to love it like I do!
Since they were born, I’ve bought them various items of Palace clothing and sung them (politely worded) holmesdale songs. However, neither of them had taken a particularly keen interest in football. Even though they knew – from the moment they learnt to speak – that shouting ‘Crystal Palace’ made me happy. While my niece enjoyed it, particularly the goals, it was my nephew who was especially hooked by the day. Throughout the match, my nephew’s face was captured – by the action, by Zaha, by the fanatics and by his father, uncle and grandad sharing the same love. It was as close to perfect as a Palace game could be.
Palace…2 (Fletcher, Watson)
10th March 2007, Championship
Crystal Palace – Gabor Kiraly, Matt Lawrence, Gary Borrowdale, Leon Cort, Mark Hudson, Carl Fletcher, Tom Soares, Ben Watson, Dougie Freedman (Michael Hughes), Clinton Morrison (Lewis Grabban), James Scowcroft
Leicester City – Paul Henderson, Jason Jarrett, Geoff Horsfield, Stephen Hughes, Iain Hume, Andy Johnson, Nils-Eric Johansson, Patrick Kisnorbo, , Richard Stearman, Levi Porter, Gareth McAuley
I could have picked our 3-0 loss in 2011 as my lowest moment but as low as it was for me, having made a last minute decision to drive up for the Sunday tie, it was worse for my friend. He drove to Leicester, locked his car keys in the car, missed most of the game while on the phone, and then had to get the train back to London to meet his ex-girlfriend’s father to get the spare keys before getting the train back to Leicester late at night. If only he’d thought of calling the AA who he had breakdown cover with…
However, my lowest moment is very much a moment rather than a match. As a match, it was fine, as was the outcome. So why the low point? With Palace leading 1-0 in stoppage time, we were awarded a penalty. Up stepped our ginger-haired youth product, Ben Watson. Unbelievably, with many fans not rating who I believed was our best player, they booed him as he ran up to take his first professional penalty. So much for the “Palace Family”. He was one of our own for goodness sake!
Thankfully, he blocked them out and calmly dispatched the penalty – as he did away at promotion chasing West Bromwich Albion in a 3-2 win the following Tuesday – to silence his own so-called supporters. I’ve never been more embarrassed at a Palace game. In many ways it summed up the whole Peter Taylor era, crowds were dropping, the football was turgid, fans were fed up and even winning wasn’t fun.
My Personal Record of Live Matches Against Leicester City
- Played 20
- Won 7
- Drawn 6
- Lost 7
- Scored 28
- Conceded 24
- Home 12
- Away 8
- Palace…3 Leicester…0 (FA Cup R4, 1998) – Dyer (3)
- Palace…2 Leicester…0 (Championship, 2005) – McAnuff, Johnson
- Leicester…2 Palace…0 (Championship, 2006)
- Leicester…1 Palace…1 (Championship, 2006) – Soares
- Palace…2 Leicester…0 (Championship, 2007) – Fletcher, Watson
- Palace…2 Leicester…2 (Championship, 2007) – Green, Morrison
- Leicester…0 Palace…0 (FA Cup R3, 2008)
- Palace…2 Leicester…1 (FA Cup R3 Replay, 2008) – Ifill, Scannell
- Leicester…2 Palace…0 (Championship, 2009)
- Palace…0 Leicester…1 (Championship, 2010)
- Palace…3 Leicester…2 (Championship, 2010) – Zaha, Ambrose, Lee
- Leicester…1 Palace…1 (Championship, 2011) – Scannell
- Leicester…3 Palace…0 (Championship, 2011)
- Palace…1 Leicester…2 (Championship, 2012) – Parr
- Leicester…1 Palace…2 (Championship, 2012) – Delaney, Ramage
- Palace…2 Leicester…2 (Championship, 2013) – Gabbidon, Dobbie
- Leicester…1 Palace…0 (Premier League, 2015)
- Palace…0 Leicester…1 (Premier League, 2016)
- Palace…2 Leicester…2 (Premier League, 2017) – Cabaye, Benteke
- Palace…5 Leicester…0 (Premier League, 2018) – Zaha, McArthur, Loftus-cheek, van Aanholt, Benteke