This season, I am taking a walk down memory lane, back through 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 have been limited encounters, but whoever the opponent, I will try to capture the emotion, context and excitement of the Palace life.
West Ham United
West Ham have always stood alone in London. They’re clearly smaller than the genuinely big teams in the capital like Arsenal, Spurs and Chelsea, but their fan-base and history makes them ‘bigger’ than the mid-range clubs like us, QPR, Charlton and Fulham. Of course, everyone can agree that we’re all much bigger than the little clubs like Brentford, Dagenham, Millwall and Leyton Orient.
Having said that, I think we are probably the most similar sized club in London to West Ham – which is why the pair of us have always flirted with a rivalry without ever really having one. Well, that and a shared hatred of Millwall.
In terms of my favourite matches against them – we peaked early in my personal encounters. However, overall, it has been fairly even.
29th May 2004, Division One Play off Final
Broken down limos on the M4 are a beautiful sight, aren’t they? That was the image that will stay with me most as we triumphantly drove back home after a great day in Cardiff back in 2004. The season was spectacular. We’d slipped into the relegation zone in the days before Christmas, and it was then – at Reading – where Iain Dowie was announced as Palace manager. We won 3-0 in front of the sky cameras that night, and to be honest, we didn’t really stop winning until May – when we came up against the Hammers.
Arrogance was the word that described them best that day. From Pardew’s attitude in the dug out, to the pre-match “original academy” t-shirts, to the cockney geezers eating jellied eels in their limousines.
Even after Neil Shipperley – in his XX Large shorts – had dispatched them, their fans still could not accept defeat. One square-jawed, phlegm-spewing Hammer wound down his window as we queued up at Junction 29 of the M4 to return to London with Premier League status.
“You only won ‘cos we shudda ‘ad a penalty!” he splattered at us.
My Dad wound down his window, pressed play on the CD drive and blasted out GLAD ALL OVER!
An honourable mention to…
23rd August 2014, Premier League
I was not at the game and from what I saw on television, Palace were hopeless in defeat – but to me, this game wasn’t about the result.
I arrived in Sydney in August 2014 and it’s fair to say that I didn’t have the happiest of starts. Various mishaps, unfamiliarities and feelings of loneliness crept up on me as I started a new life on the other side of the world. One fateful Saturday night, I headed to the Royal Exhibition Hotel, where both Palace and West Ham Sydney Supporters Clubs resided. Finally, a touch of home allowed me to begin to settle in. I was warmly welcomed by fellow Palace fans, who felt like old friends.
From ‘The Palace Addiction 2: Where Eagles Fly’:
“I would be lying if I claimed that I had an instant close friendship with anyone there but for the first time since stepping foot on foreign soil, I was confident that I’d found people who could become just that. And it was all because of football. Or more specifically, Crystal Palace Football Club. There again, what is friendship? If I think of my best mates back home, I think of a deep rooted history of shared stories and tribulations. With Palace fans, I have that as soon as I meet them. Even if they’ve experienced the same stories, highs and traumas from a different angle – or in this case, a different hemisphere.”
West Ham United…3
14th January 2017, Premier League
I stood at the London Stadium, shell-shocked and empty. My Dad and brother had already left well before the end as they started the small hike back to the station. In my head, it was cold and raining, but the truth is, I don’t really remember. It was certainly downtrodden in my red and blue heart, that much is for sure. More than the loss – losses alone don’t hurt me – it was the manner of the defeat.
We’d been bad under Pardew, really bad, but the early days under Allardyce were appalling. Gutless. Skill-less. Heart-less. Point-less. Everything I loved about my favourite Palace sides was missing.
Jeffery Schlupp made his debut and I remember thinking, we don’t need a multi-million pound left back – we need someone to care. A Clint Hill. A Matt Lawrence. A Mile Jedinak or a Shaun Derry. Sod it, a Johnny Ertl or Dean Austin would do. But they weren’t there. There were no leaders apparent. No fighters to care. No passion to share.
At the time, I couldn’t see how we wouldn’t slip out of the Premier League with nothing to show for it but a gigantic wage bill and some egos to shift.
My Personal Record Of Live Matches Against West Ham
- Played 10
- Won 3
- Drawn 3
- Lost 4
- Scored 8
- Conceded 12
- Home 7
- Away 2
- Neutral 1
Palace…1 West Ham…0 (Division 1, 2004) – Freedman
Palace…1 West Ham…0 (Division 1 Play Off Final, 2004) – Shipperley
Palace…0 West Ham…1 (Friendly, 2005)
Palace…2 West Ham…2 (Championship, 2011) – Ambrose, Murray
West Ham…0 Palace…0 (Championship, 2012)
Palace…1 West Ham…0 (Premier League, 2013) – Chamakh
Palace…1 West Ham…3 (Premier League, 2015) – Cabaye
Palace…0 West Ham…1 (Premier League, 2016)
West Ham…3 Palace…0 (Premier League, 2017)
Palace…2 West Ham…2 (Premier League, 2017) – Milivojevic, Zaha
West Ham…3 Palace…2 (Premier League, 2017) – Mcarthur, Schlupp