Crystal Palace 0 - 0 Everton

Here's my account of the matchday experience, which was eventful as ever. 

Swamp-like conditions early doors on the park due to the rain. Muddy boots and mucky paws. But I had time given the FA & broadcasters' decision to arrange a match between a team from Merseyside and southeast London late on a Thursday night. When will they have consideration for the supporters? It's been ridiculous this past month. 

Into London. It was looking a bit cloudy and wasn't too cold, but nothing intimidating, so I chanced it and went Danny no coat as usual. That was to prove to be a big mistake. I should have checked the weather forecast. 

Even though I live in west London, Selhurst Park is a tricky place to get to. I caught the Metropolitan Line, changed at Finchley Road and hopped onto the Jubilee Line to get to London Bridge Station. Then a mainline train to Norwood Junction. Door to door, it's about a 2-hour trip. Make that 4 hours round-trip. I shouldn't complain, many of the Merseyside-based supporters on the coaches wouldn't have got home until 4 am. I made it before 1 am. 

I pride myself on my navigation skills but, despite a few visits, I always find that part of the capital difficult to navigate and yet again, I was struggling to find the Prince George, where I'd arranged to meet up with Mark and his son Joe as well as Rob. And it is where Everton supporters tend to congregate when we play Palace, so a good meeting place. 

The rain was relentless and my hoody was struggling to protect me from the elements. I walked for a bit then saw a place that had a big sign saying "Eagles season ticket holders only – no away supporters". I don't like how they do that in London, but I needed to get my bearings. 

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The doormen and doorwomen took pity on me even though they guessed I wasn't a Palace supporter, as by now I was pretty drenched. A kind lady gave me instructions. Go to the bus stop across the road and take the 130. Top tip. If you catch it on the High Street, just up from Norwood Junction Station, it drops you off right near the Prince George. 

Into the Prince George. It gradually ended up packed full of Everton supporters belting out all of the best tunes. Spirit, Forever, Marching, Here we Go, We're on the March with Dyche's Army. Royal Blue Mersey. But the best, loudest and most emotive being <em>We Shall Not Be Moved</em>, which is making a revival in the current climate of Royal Blue defiance.

Great to once again see so many young supporters and those of all ages who had made the trek. I say 'trek', it's never a trek. It is great to witness and be part of. I met with Rob. Mark and his son Joe were delayed due to the weather but made it in good time. 

On to the ground. I had the pleasure to once again have a chance meeting with Neil and, as luck would have it, I happened to be sat right behind him throughout the match. 

A completely packed away section on the corner side of the pitch where they put you at Selhurst Park. To our left, the entire rest of the stand along the same side of the pitch was totally empty. Absolutely empty; every single seat empty. Considering the scramble for Everton tickets and us having being sold out weeks ago, I'm sure we would have taken a lot of that. 

The atmosphere from where I was stood was great. I don't know what it sounded like to those watching or listening, but it was noisy despite those irritating drums to our left, behind the goal. As I always call them, the fake Italian Ultras. The supporter to my right was getting very irate and vocal about the drum! I think if he could have got there, he would have confiscated and destroyed it. 

The team played well. They understandably tired a bit towards the end but, given we went down to 10 men and lost McNeil, we can give them a pass for that. They never stopped fighting and carried on trying to win the match.

When we attacked, we did it with purpose and intent, it's just a shame we couldn't have had more composure in front of goal. I think if Doucoure played last night, we win that. We were better than them for most of the game. We'll take them at Goodison. 

Onana had one of the best games I've seen him play for Everton. Not the best at going forward but, when he's on his game, he is very effective in the middle of the park.

James Garner (or Jimmy as the manager referred to him as) does that for us. He's always looking for the forward pass.

Virginia impressed me. Not a bad stand in keeper and made a couple of great saves.

Branthwaite just oozes grace, elegance, composure and defensive certainty. He rarely puts a foot or header wrong and anticipates. Just stop it or you'll be off to the Etihad!

Alongside the rock that is Tarkowski, I almost don't fear corners or set pieces.

Mykolenko was solid. As for Seamus, he rolled back the years. At one point, Mark leaned over and told me he was his Sheedy. So I agreed he can be called Seamus Sheedy! There is an Irish link there even if Kevin the Great grew up in Wales. 

On the Calvert-Lewin sending off. He's gone in one footed into a full-hearted tackle and won the ball. The ref and officials were once again shocking, especially in the second half. He didn't need the VAR to make that decision.

As the manager said, if they look at that, why didn't they look at the Beto "penalty"? He gets his foot stamped on and his arm pulled back. I don't mind the VAR, but let's have some consistency. I understand the club will appeal and rightly so. Start standing up the these bully boys who are blatantly targeting us. 

We couldn't really see the McNeil incident and I initially thought it was a ball boy or Palace player that had been taken out until someone pointed out it was McNeil. It looked serious: I hope not and, listening to Dyche, it might not be. Let's hope. It was highlighted to me that, for a period, we only had 8 outfield players on the pitch due to yet more dithering from the officials. Yet the boys kept fighting and pressing to the end. 

The boys did us proud in adversity and against the tide of outrageous and incompetent officialdom. I don't blame the VAR. I blame the standard of the officials, both on the pitch and those stood around the coffee machine at Stockley Park. It is bordering on corruption and targeted vindication. 

The players took the plaudits as they came over at the end and we all stayed to applaud them. Seamus got a great reception as the "60 Grand" chant was belted out. The officials took the venom of the blue masses. It is getting ridiculous.

My son's post-match message to me was that it was disgusting and, if he was Everton manager, he would have taken his players off the pitch. I don't think I would have disagreed with him. 

The supporters were magnificent and never gave in.   Most of those supporters, young, middle-aged and old won't have got back home until the very early hours. 

For me, it was back to the Prince George before going our separate ways in the still-falling rain. Some gave Man of the Match to Garner. I gave it to Onana. Close call in my opinion for different reasons. 

My navigation was better on the way back and I caught the train back to London Bridge. Surrounded by many Evertonians and a few Palace supporters who were getting bold about "doing us" at Goodison in the replay. We were gentle with them.

Eventually back on the Jubilee Line – London Bridge is a tricky station to navigate. Safely on to the Metropolitan Line for some sleep and then home by 1 am. What a day and night. 

10 days recovery. Hopefully Dwight's injury isn't as bad as it looked. Well done, Blues, in the face of adversity and increasingly incompetent officials that seem to have it in for us, you did us proud. 

Final note to the supporters: Keep believing. This team has fight in it. We have fight and defiance in us as we demonstrated last night. Very few will roll us over and we can beat anyone on the day as well as the establishment that is trying to beat us down. 

They picked on the wrong supporters. We shall never be moved. 

Spirit. Forever 


Reader Comments (17)

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John Bourne
1 Posted 05/01/2024 at 16:07:01
A great write-up, Danny, I have come to expect no less.

It is bordering on corruption and targeted vindication.

I couldn't agree more, Danny, there is a pattern emerging here.

I have no time for conspiracy theories, but there is definitely something not right here.

Jay Harris
2 Posted 05/01/2024 at 16:31:05
Great report, Danny, summing up the Spirit of the Blues (supporters) who turn up in hail, rain or shine to support the team.

A great fighting spirit throughout the players too as they could easily have been deflated by the lack of a penalty, the red card, and McNeil's injury – allied to recent officials' agenda against us,

I was a bit worried when I saw the splint going around Dwight's lower leg before being stretchered off but hope it's not too bad for the lad's sake.

I believe the club should put a video together for all the incorrect decisions against us recently and put to bed this excuse that it's a modern-day decision. It isn't – it is just total bias which the Sly 6 would never get given against them.

Mike Gaynes
3 Posted 05/01/2024 at 16:38:41
Magnificent account, Danny, of the magnificent traveling Blues.

I admire you all for your passionate commitment.

And envy you just a bit for the experience.

Neil Tyrrell
4 Posted 05/01/2024 at 17:29:58
Great report, Danny.

I also thought Onana had a good game yesterday. And thanks for verifying the empty sections, they showed up briefly on the TV cameras and I was curious about it. I know London is huge, but 2 hours on trains and bus to get to Selhurst Park? Ouch.

One more thing, if you're not wearing a coat in bleeding January – why even own one? Put your damn coat on!!

Paul Washington
5 Posted 05/01/2024 at 17:43:43
Thanks, Dan, you've missed your vocation, should have been a writer!

My lad went last night and I picked him up at dinner time from our local train station as he'd stayed in that London – he mentioned the great support.

WSNBM!

John Raftery
6 Posted 05/01/2024 at 22:41:56
Great account, Danny. You are always optimistic but even optimists sometimes carry a raincoat in our winters!

The standard of officials is poor but the evidence of the past five years suggests the VAR is actually making them worse. The ‘Big Brother' remote interference should be scrapped with authority handed back to the on-field referees.

Of course, there is no chance of that happening until fans of all clubs start protesting against the VAR or alternatively vote with their feet.

Can anyone say that, apart from the use of goalline technology, the VAR has improved any aspect of the game or their enjoyment of it?

Tom Bowers
7 Posted 05/01/2024 at 23:06:23
Everton have long been on the end of many shit decisions over the years and yesterday was no exception.

Funny how the likes of Liverpool and Man City very rarely get punished properly by officialdom.

Hopefully in 10 days Doucoure will be ready and it was good to see Onana and Danjuma putting in good shifts.

The conditions were awful and a very average Palace could have snatched it thanks to the poor officiating.

I am sure Everton will take care of business in the replay but I would sooner everyone be up for the next league game.

Mike Gaynes
8 Posted 05/01/2024 at 00:12:21
John #6, there is absolutely no chance of that happening anytime ever, no matter what fans say or do. Money talks, not fans' feet.

Video review systems have been deployed in virtually all major sports for decades now. All have experienced difficulties. Most have been improved to become central to their sports and essentially non-controversial (rugby, cricket, baseball, tennis, ice hockey, basketball more or less) while a few have remained disastrous (NFL replay and the VAR).

But none has ever been "scrapped" or ever will, because owner money, betting money and sponsorship money all drive the technology incentive to get everything right. Like soccer, NFL officiating is in meltdown right now because the humans can't get it right. It's not about the technology, but how it is used -- and misused.

The VAR will get better when the failures start to hit the wealthiest owners in the wallet.

Paul Birmingham
9 Posted 06/01/2024 at 00:38:15
Beat Palace in the replay and onto the next Cup game.

Everton will get stronger and stronger in the adversity which is impacting the club but is galvanising Evertonians to a 2024 Crusade for Justice for Everton.

“What's Our Name?”

UTFTs!

Jerome Shields
10 Posted 06/01/2024 at 00:59:15
Thanks, Danny, quite inspirational.

I left my raincoat and an umbrella in the car before Xmas and got caught in torrential rain.

It did not occur to me how bad conditions were when I was watching the match on TV.

Dave Williams
11 Posted 06/01/2024 at 10:35:52
What an enjoyable article Danny. You capture the atmosphere in your articles perfectly for those of us stuck with the TV.
Like you Onana was MoM. I watched him carefully off the ball and he had clearly been told to stop Eze and he did a superb job. I think he will go this month- I have a few Arsenal mates and they are full of it- band we won’t be able to resist £80m but what a shrewd buy he has been. Nowhere near the finished article but he mostly plays a solid game and the profit on him will keep us afloat.
Well done Danny- hope to see you pre game v Villa!
Jon Harding
12 Posted 06/01/2024 at 12:07:52
Spot on about those fake fan drums, Danny. Very annoying even when watching on the TV. Almost muted it. And the stupid big flags too. Grow up!
We'll win the replay as Palace are dreadful - so long as we don't let Onana take a pen.
Treat yourself to a coat. UTFT
Christopher Timmins
13 Posted 06/01/2024 at 12:39:12
Danny

A great report and call on the players who stood out.

Given the light schedule this month, an extra game won't be such a bad thing.

John Raftery
14 Posted 06/01/2024 at 18:20:10
Mike (8),

Yes, you are probably right because the game at elite level, the product, is primarily aimed at a TV audience and the associated sponsorships. It saddens me to say it but the match-going fans are the least important stakeholders. Each piece of controversy on the VAR is grist to the media mill of generating headlines, column inches and endless debate on TV and radio.

I know the use of technology works well on matters of fact in sports such as cricket but I have heard and read in recent months of complaints about TMO overreach in Rugby Union with frequent, lengthy stoppages while endless replays from every angle under the sun are viewed.

A thing I didn't realise until today is that, in FA Cup ties where the technology is deployed, they have an extra person with the VAR called an SVAR, a Support VAR used in some UEFA and FIFA competitions. On Thursday Pawson was the VAR, Salisbury was the SVAR and Darren Cann was the AVAR.

So that's three roles getting in the way of the pitch officials as well as more jobs for the boys and a few girls. Little wonder the pitch referee feels obliged to bow to what is in effect a tribunal in Stockley Park. The gravy train is running out of control.

Mark Murphy
15 Posted 07/01/2024 at 10:24:18
Danny, great report as usual, and the guy on your right was the same as the guy on your left! That fucking big drum is ridiculous and their supporters chanting the postcode non-stop is not support – it's fucking dirgelike and monotonous shite!

Seamus is my shining light over the last few years – a beacon of integrity and team spirit that we're unlikely to see again in these dying days of the game we once loved. And yes, he's proper Irish, not a Taff – he gets the Roy Keane seal of approval – hahaha!

On the empty seats to our left, my Palace mate told me they can't segregate the Arthur Waite Stand more than they already did - I think due to the concourse with the bars.

As others have said, despite the adversary and odds being unfairly loaded against us, we're still in there fighting. The Spirit of the Blues is indeed tangible these days and I give Sean Dyche (he's growing on me – I wasn't a fan) the credit. He's doing a good job and supporting the Blues away is becoming more than just a day on the ale spoiled by a football match.

Although the VAR is rapidly eroding that side as well!

BTW, next time change at East Croydon and get the train to Thornton Heath, as I advised! Easy peasy!

UTFT

David Williams
16 Posted 07/01/2024 at 10:53:32
Thanks Danny,

Great account for what sounds like a shite experience.
Keep the write-ups coming!

Andy McNabb
17 Posted 08/01/2024 at 20:44:23
Thanks, Danny. A word of advice all the way from Australia. I'm about to take the dog out for a walk and it has been unseasonably damp recently, so while it is currently dry, I'm still going to take a coat!

After living in and around London for 7 years, whilst on a journey within the capital to watch the Blues, I would often calculate how far North, South etc I could have travelled by the time I reached my London destination. I know it's a big place but …


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