With 38 Premier League games to contend with this season, coinciding with a decade under the ownership of CPFC 2010, The Eagles Beak will take a look at 38 Crystal Palace cult heroes from the last 10 years.
Sometimes, it only takes one kick to go down in football folklore.
Having seen the headline at the top of this very article and read that first sentence, the fact that you already know which moment I am talking about proves that to be true.
‘Super’ Kevin Phillips joined the club in January 2013 from Blackpool after former Seasiders manager Ian Holloway thought the renowned striker would fire in the goals that would get Palace into the promised land that was the Premier League.
Bringing him into the south London club didn’t take too much persuasion, with Phillips admitting at the time: “I spoke to my agent and then had a conversation with Ian Holloway and in the last 24 hours it’s picked up again and he’s someone I know well.
“We obviously got on really well at Blackpool. He brought me in at a time when not too many people were looking for someone for my age.
“I repaid him with 17 goals and helping them to the play-offs so it was a gamble that paid off. I think I can still do a job, he knows that and that’s one of the reasons he’s brought me to the football club.”
Holloway’s trust in the then 39-year-old striker could be forgiven when you reflect on the career Phillips had had prior to joining the Eagles.
The former England forward is best known for his time at Sunderland, where he scored an impressive 130 goals in 235 competitive outings, with 30 of those goals coming in a Golden Boot winning year in the 1999/2000 Premier League campaign.
The stats do not lie. Phillips scored 92 Premier League goals and assisted 24 times in 263 appearances, averaging a direct goal contribution every 2.26 games. When considering his career in its totality, Phillips amassed 513 competitive games in his career, scoring 191 goals, averaging a goal every 2.68 games.
Without playing for a ‘top-six’ side, that is quite an impressive record.
Phillips signed at the tail end of January 2013 and scored in his first away outing for the Eagles against former club Watford. Not to be his last against the Hornets that season…
That goal secured a 2-2 draw for Holloway’s men after finding themselves two goals adrift, leaving Palace fans in no doubt that his forename sounded a little too dry for a man of such talents, anointing him ‘Super’ from henceforth.
If people still doubted whether the quality that the striker had showcased throughout his career remained at his feet, his hattrick against Hull City in his full home debut soon put those murmurs to rest.
His first goal that evening secured Phillips’ place as the oldest scorer in the history of Crystal Palace Football Club, which he revealed meant a lot.
Speaking to reporters at the time, Phillips said: “To get a hat-trick at home like that on your full debut, it was fantastic.
“It’s brilliant, what more could I want than to still be scoring hat-tricks and breaking records at 39, and turning 40 in the summer.
“Could I still do it in the Premier League next season? Listen, it would be great but let’s not get carried away.”
Why not get carried away? That is what football is for isn’t it?
Palace’s mid-season form lacked the consistency it did under former boss Dougie Freedman at the start of the season, meaning the dream of automatic promotion eventually failed to materialise.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but would Palace fans swap how events unfolded in real-life for a Championship title trophy?
Needing a win on the last day of the domestic season to guarantee a place in the Championship play-offs, the Eagles faced a relegation-threatened Peterborough United who had future Palace forward Dwight Gayle (spoilers) leading the line that afternoon.
Phillips started the match on the bench as Palace predictably stumbled out the gates, going 1-0 down after 28 minutes. Clawing a goal back through Glenn Murray before leaking another in the 63rd minute, it was time for Phillips to enter the field moments after Palace had gone behind for the second time.
When Palace needed a hero, ‘Super Kev’ was there to save the day.
A twist and a turn on the edge of the box saw Phillips create just enough space to fire his effort into the top corner of the Peterborough goal, drawing Palace level.
The stadium erupted – as did Holloway down the touchline – as the play-offs seemed within reach. A Mile Jedinak effort sealed the three points and Palace’s play-off semi-final clash with Brighton.
We all know what happened against Brighton. We also know what happened next.
The play-off final was an extremely nervous encounter for all those involved. The money at stake, the pride to be won or lost, and Wembley Stadium itself all hurdles to cross in everyone’s mind that day.
The match was a cagey affair, with just two real moments of attacking quality sealing the victory for the Eagles.
Wilfried Zaha’s moment of magic in the box earnt Palace a penalty on the stroke of half-time in extra-time. Subbed on in the 64th minute of the match, there was only one man who was confident enough to step up and do his job; score goals.
A deep breath, a wipe of his brow, and a single look at the goal to see exactly where he wanted to put the ball, Phillips fired his penalty beyond the reaches of Manuel Almunia into the top corner of the goal.
Half of Wembley was left in silence. The other – coated in red and blue – was not.
Looking back, Phillips has been asked how he felt taking that penalty kick on that hot Wembley afternoon.
Speaking to the Crystal Palace website in 2019, Phillips said: “Bizarrely enough, I felt good. That’s one of the biggest questions: ‘How did you feel, were you nervous? You must have been.’ Yeah, of course, I was a little bit but I actually felt quite calm.
“I felt fresh, maybe I drew on that experience of years of playing in pressured situations. Don’t get me wrong, all sort of things go through your mind but I think ultimately as soon as the penalty went, I was taking it and no one was going to stop me.
“I just focussed on the old cliché: pick your spot, don’t change your mind, try to make good contact with the ball. When I look back now over the penalties I’ve hit in my career, I’d probably say that’s up there if not one of my best ones in high-pressure situations.
“I was just delighted I could turn around and see all of those Palace supporters – the team I was playing for at the time – celebrating, because since then the club has moved on and progressed. I’m delighted to see their progress now.”
Despite not starting the majority of his games in a Crystal Palace shirt, Phillips averaged a goal every three games in his time at the club, scoring seven goals in 21 outings, with one of those living long in the memory.
One kick sealed victory for Palace. One kick sealed the club’s place in the Premier League. One kick confirmed Kevin Phillips’ place as an icon at Crystal Palace Football Club.
Sorry, I meant ‘Super Kev’…
What were your thoughts when Super Kev first signed for Palace? Let us know below!