The History of Crystal Palace Football Club

By Nik Taylor
Last updated : 26 November 2007
Crystal Palace Football Club was formed in 1905, and took its name from the huge glass palace which stood at the top of Sydenham Hill (on the site where the National Sports Centre now stands) which was re-erected there following the Great Exhibition of 1851. The club played its home fixtures at Crystal Palace until the great war commenced in 1914, when it moved to Herne Hill. When the war ended in 1918 the club relocated again - this time to The Nest, which is opposite the present-day Selhurst main line railway station.

During the period 1905-1920, Palace played in the Southern League, but were granted admission to the Football League for the 1921 season and immediately won the 3rd Division Championship at the first attempt. The Club moved again in 1924 to its present home at Selhurst Park, but an inauspicious season saw them relegated back to division 3. Palace remained in division 3 (South) until the Football League restructured its divisions in 1958 when we became founder members of the newly formed national league division 4.

Promotion was achieved at regular intervals over the next few years, culminating in the 1969 promotion to the First Division, the first time the Club had appeared in the top flight of English Football. In 1973 under the management of Malcolm Allison we were relegated back to division 2 and the following year slipped into division 3. During this period, the Club did gain some much needed publicity by reaching the F.A.Cup semi final in 1976. Wins at Leeds United, Chelsea and Sunderland thrust "Big Mal" into the national papers and put Palace back on the footballing map.

Terry Venables took over the managerial reigns from Allison in 1977 and immediately gained promotion to division 2, and two seasons later Palace were back in the top division, with a young side which included the likes of Kenny Sansom, Billy Gilbert and Vince Hilaire. Once again Palace were unable to sustain a place in the top flight and were relegated in 1981, buckling under the weight of the "team of the eighties" tag. In 1981 Palace were bought out by Ron Noades amid mounting debts and falling support, and his master stroke was to appoint the former Manchester United and England winger Steve Coppell as manager.

Under Coppell's management Palace were to become re-established as a major force in the game, winning promotion to the first division in 1989. The 1990 season saw some remarkable highs and lows, with the club's first ever appearance in the FA Cup Final, drawing 3-3 with Manchester United, before losing 1-0 in the replay. In the league we suffered our worst ever result, losing 9-0 at Anfield against a rampant Liverpool side. Revenge was extracted, however when Liverpool were beaten 4-3 in an epic FA Cup semi final. The following year Palace achieved their best ever League position, finishing a magnificent third place, only missing out on a European place because English clubs were banned following the Heysel Stadium disaster. We also returned to Wembley to win the Zenith Data Systems Cup, beating Everton 4-1. The following season also saw us finish in the top half of the table. The team over this period including the likes of Nigel Martyn, Eric Young, Andy Thorn, Geoff Thomas, Andy Gray, John Salako and the prolific deadly duo of Mark Bright and Ian Wright. The sale of Ian Wright to Arsenal had a devastating effect on the club, which resulted in relegation at the end of the 92-93 season. Ironically Palace were relegated on the final day of the season at Arsenal, when Ian Wright scored one of the goals that comdemned us. Steve Coppell resigned following relegation and an era was at an end.

Alan Smith, who had been Coppell's assistant was promoted to the hot seat and achieved promotion in his first season, winning the Championship. Once again the Club could not sustain its position and were relegated in 1995. Smith paid the price with his job. In 1996 Dave Bassett was installed and in his first season in charge led Palace to the play off final at Wembley where we cruelly lost to a last minute mis-kick from Leicester's Steve Claridge. A year later and it was our turn to win the play off final with a last-minute goal, David Hopkin curling in a 20 yarder to defeat Sheffield United by the only goal and secure a place in the Premiership. Relegation followed almost as surely as night follows day, and this in turn led to the darkest times the Club had ever known.

Mark Goldberg took over the Club from Ron Noades, brought back Terry Venables and signed a series of highly paid players, who unfortunately did not achieve on the pitch. The financial strain of this venture brought the Club to it's knees and almost sent us out of existence. Steve Coppell was brought back to bring some stability, and we finished a creditable mid table, having been forced to sell the majority of the better players for a fraction of their true worth and rely on untried kids. The toll of Administration saw the company make wholesale changes to its playing and administrative staff, with many people finding themselves redundant. The following season we played under the cloud of the administration order and it was not until July 2000 that the Club was brought out of administration following the take over by mobile phone tycoon Simon Jordan.

The working relationship between Coppell and Jordan was so tense that Coppell was relieved of his duties and Alan Smith returned. Fortunately, for the long suffering supporters, Smith was sacked just prior to the end of the season, with Steve Kember taking over as caretaker boss. Kember steered Palace to victory at Stockport on the final day of the season to ensure First Division survival. Steve Bruce was brought in as manager, and suddenly Palace were playing the kind of football that all fans want to see. However, Bruce decided that he wanted to manage Birmingham City and after a bitter dispute with Jordan, Bruce was appointed manager of Birmingham.

Trevor Francis, who had been sacked by Birmingham earlier in the season took over at Palace. Francis, who did not endear himself to the Palace faithful, was destined to be another to feel the weight of the Jordan axe, with Palace finishing a disappointing 14th last season. Jordan then appointed the hugely popular Steve Kember as manager, but it was a move doomed to end in failure. After winning the first three matches of the 2003/4 season, Kember's Palace side spiralled down the league. Kember's short reign in the hot-seat came to an end after a shambolic 5-0 defeat at Wigan. After a brief caretaker spell for defender Kit Symons, Iain Dowie was brought in. There's no doubt that Dowie is one of the hot properties in football management at the moment, and most Palace fans were delighted to see him get the job.

The long suffering Palace fans want to see their team playing attractive football and returning to the Premiership. Perhaps Iain Dowie is the man to provide both.

Check back soon for an updated Palace history article!

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