Saturday, 25 May 2013

The Big Game

Wembley where the drama will unfold ...

As football games go this is perhaps one of the biggest in world football. Perhaps not as fashionable as the Champions League Final or indeed the World Cup Final. But the rewards are simply immense.

The winners secure promotion to the Premier League and with that a guaranteed income of up to £130 million. That amount of money could make or break a football club. There are plenty of examples. The obvious one  that provides a less than rosy view is that of Wolverhampton Wanderers. Relegated from the Premier League and a second consecutive drop to the third tier of English football. A demise that could kill a lesser club and it remains to be seen what happens to this club. That is a warning shot across the bows but any such thoughts will not enter the heads of those involved with both Palace or Watford this weekend.

Recent form suggests that it is Palace's to take the win. Watford arrived at Selhurst on the opening day of this season and took all three points. The return game at Vicarage Road ended in a draw after the home side took an early two goal lead. But what will be in the minds of the Palace fans is the play off semi finals from the 2005/06 season. Defeat over two legs at the hands of Watford who secured promotion with a win over Leeds in the final.

This season has had plenty of high and low points. To be travelling to Wembley on Monday with a chance to witness Palace may achieving promotion is far more than I ever expected. The bookies quoted prices of around 150/1 for Palace to win promotion but were more interested in offering one of the three best odds for relegation. Looking back we have come so far. To 2010 and the thought of going out of business to that final game of the season result in Sheffield to secure Championship status for another season. And then for Dougie Freedman to leave us mid season. There have been knocks along the way and our form going into the play offs was anything but consistent. But we are here. At Wembley. The play off final.
I would be foolish to say that this game doesn't matter considering where we have been. Dark days indeed but while I can freely think that while writing this piece, when Monday dawns and my journey to Wembley begins, by 3pm I will be itching for Palace to win the game no matter what. The nerves will be there, the mouth dry with anticipation. And knowing Palace, it will not be straightforward if we are to do the unthinkable.

The Premier League is only 90 minutes away. Or 120 minutes away. Or however long it takes for penalties to be taken. Whatever happens, I am an extremely proud Palace fan. I will be thinking back to big games that I have been to in our history and there are plenty. And now this. I have no doubt that should we win this game it will be sweetest of them all.

I fully intend to help turn Wembley turned red and blue with replica kit and balloons on Monday. I will return home without a voice by playing my part.

Thank you CPFC 2010. Without you I doubt that any of this would have been likely to happen.

Article for The Eagles Beak by Jason Crame (@JayTheEagle)


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