Crystal Palace

Fish Sands

My first "encounter" with Palace came on a very cold February night back in 1976. My father, a Sunderland fan, was working so I volunteered to queue all night outside Roker Park to get two tickets for their much-anticipated quarter final FA cup clash with Division Three Palace. 

Sunderland were going well in division 2 (now the Championship) and in fact were champions that season. I remember a load of hype over this game with Palace's larger-than-life manager Big Malcolm Allison, who sported a fur coat, large fedora hat and cigar at games. 

Anyway, with no idea of the glorious summer to follow, I almost froze outside Roker Park, queueing from around 6pm until I think around 9 or 10am on the Sunday morning when the ticket office opened. I did manage to get two tickets and dad was delighted and I had helped cement good Poolie-Mackem relationships whilst finishing further back in the queue than when I had started!

As it happened, Palace won 1-0 with Malcolm Allison upsetting the Sunderland crowd with his fedora cigar routine plus giving the Fulwell End the V sign and was probably saved from a lynching by the bobbies. Also that day, a train load of Palace fans travelling up from London and passing through Hartlepool railway station, were met with a hail of stones from some Pools fans who smashed the train windows. The northbound train was late and when it reached the disused Ryhope station on the outskirts of Sunderland, most of the Palace fans believed they had already arrived and piled out of the train. They all missed the first half of the game.
"...most of the Palace fans believed they had already arrived and piled out of the train. They all missed the first half"

As fate would have it, the Poolies showed the Mackems how it was done when, two short years later, Palace were drawn away at Pools in the FA Cup 3rd round, a game famous for Pools winning 2-1 with two Bob Newton goals after the blues went a goal down in 9 minutes.

I can still see the thousands of Palace fans stunned to silence at The Town End, where Newton had scored both goals. Roared on by a crowd of over 9,000 it was a heady victory for Pools who had been so shite in the league.

Big Bob Newton won himself a suit for his exploits and Pools were off to Ipswich Town in round 4, being the last 4th division side left in the competition. Ipswich won 4-1 and went on to win the cup that season.

Pools would of course meet up again with Palace in 1993 when that famous Andy Saville goal knocked them out by 1-0! But back to the 1978 clash. Apparently the Terry Venables Palace team had stayed at their "lucky" Staincliffe Hotel in Seaton where they had stayed before beating Sunderland. Not so lucky this time.

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