Survival – So Close You Can Almost Touch It!

Another season is almost over, can we afford to relax a little?

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The finishing line is in sight, the race is almost complete and our Premier League survival is almost guaranteed for another season.

I should be happy, but I’m not.
I should be content, but I’m not
I should feel calm, but I’m not

Why? Because I know what football, in particular Crystal Palace, is capable of. We are more than adept at snatching disaster from the jaws of success.

There are 11 points and 5 teams between Cardiff and Palace in the Premier League and it should give me enough of an excuse to be cautiously optimistic that we’ll be safe for another year. However, I have been a Palace fan for long enough to remember the 1992/93 season all too well.

Lap of honour to relegation in 7 days

After the penultimate weekend of the 1992/93 season Oldham were 5 points behind Palace going in to the last 2 games of the season, a midweek round and the final weekend.

In Palace’s case we had 2 away games at Manchester City and Arsenal while Oldham had 2 home games against Liverpool and Southampton. Oldham needed a miracle to escape the drop and most pundits, newspapers and even our players thought it was a done deal.

So, after the last home game with the 2 away games remaining the team did a lap of honour after beating Ipswich 3-1. It was definitely a celebratory lap rather than anything else and the Oldham players would later say that the arrogance our players showed in thinking the job was done that day helped spur them on.

Oldham won their final two games of the season, including a 4-3 win over Southampton on the final day of the season.

Palace drew the penultimate game of the season at Manchester City before losing 3-0 to Arsenal at Highbury. The Arsenal game sticks in my mind for a few reasons, least of all because I was there. In the game Ian Wright scored the opener after 9 minutes then ran to the visiting fans to kiss the Arsenal badge in front of the travelling Palace fans.

Wright would later use the excuse that Palace fans had given him stick for leaving the previous season and also that he didn’t think we’d be relegated that day. However, years later he also told a story where he said Nigel Martyn asked him what he was doing after he score the opening goal to which he gloated and said “Sorry Nige, I can’t miss!”

It just goes to show what a two-faced lying wanker the Ian Wright is. I know it is his job to score goals and I don’t expect him to do us any favours but to lie about things just to try to keep Palace fans on his side now that he is a pundit is sad.

Relegated by 2 goals

That 3-0 defeat at Arsenal hurt us in more ways than one. Going in to the final ten minutes we were losing 1-0. We conceded 2 goals in the final 8 minutes to Paul Dickov and Kevin Campbell which meant we ended the season with a -13 goal difference compared to Oldham’s -11.

In the other game, Oldham were 4-1 up after 63 minutes and were coasting. They conceded 2 Matthew Le Tissier goals in 12 minutes (’66 and ’84) to completed his hat-trick but news from Highbury had filtered through that they were basically safe.

In truth, even had we only lost 1-0 we’d have been relegated as we had scored 15 fewer goals than Oldham and would have been relegated on that statistic had the goal difference been the same.

The moral of this story is, it’s never over until it is mathematically impossible and even then…

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