One win from the last five derby games against Brighton is not great form to speak of and certainly does not give Palace fans any bragging rights.
You could argue that dip in form has followed hot on the heels of THAT play off semi final second leg win down on the South Coast, which has effectively set the Eagles on the road to what has been seven consecutive seasons in the Premier League – and counting.
Had we known that we would not have the better of the fixtures since then, to be honest, we would probably have taken it knowing what we know now.
Having said that, enough is enough. A season is not defined by two derby games, but it is something the fans really do look for. The two games are the first that both sets of fans look for when the fixture list is revealed. It has even been said that if there are two things we do in a season, they must be:
1. beat our rivals at home
2. beat our rivals away
Then again, I am not sure it is quite true that Palace fans have not had any bragging rights of late, just look at the league table since Brighton arrived in the Premier League – even though they have had the better of the match ups, not once have they finished above the Eagles.
The time has come for this Palace side to stand up and be counted in this fixture. There are enough players in this squad that know what this fixture is all about. I remember a time when it was well known that Julian Speroni always made it clear to any new additions exactly what this game meant – is there anyone at the club that still does similar?
There is no doubt that Joel Ward will be one of them along with Wilf of course, and from the last couple of seasons since the Seagulls finally decided to join us at the top table, the likes of Luka, Jimmy Mac, Andros and Dann should not be too far behind.
With the season fading away into one that promised plenty but never really fulfilled, this is the game that Eagles fans are looking towards. A sense of payback after last season particularly but with the opposition sitting in a pretty precarious position, an away win for Palace will likely do a lot of damage.
While it gives the season a little something extra with a rival in the same division, I am pretty sure most Palace fans will take great joy in contributing to Brighton’s return to the Championship.
Some will say that is not the attitude but there is no doubting their fans will be saying similar. This game means a lot to both sets of supporters, no matter what fans of other clubs say about it. If you are one of those fans, make sure you educate yourself before you comment – our article a couple of seasons back ‘Brighton? Why Brighton?’ explains everything about the rivalry.
Having said all that, the rivalry between the two clubs does some real good. For the first time ever, the annual Robert Eaton Memorial Fund Challenge Match will be held over two legs – the first in Croydon on 24 April and the second in Worthing on 15 May. The charity was set up in memory of Brighton fan Robert Eaton who lost his life in the 9/11 attacks and the two sets of fans have played each other ever since to raise money for local charities of both clubs.
Up the Palace!