In 1861, the famous Crystal Palace Exhibition Centre was moved from Hyde Park to Sydenham Hill, South London. Each brick and pane of glass was dismantled and transported to the new location, and its arrival marked the inception of a football team - Crystal Palace. The team was formed by the workers at the Palace, initially as a cricket outfit which later turned its attention to football. This amateur side became one of the founding members of the Football Association in 1863 and played in the inaugural FA Cup competition in 1871-72. Unfortunately the club was disbanded when the FA desired to use the sports facility inside the Palace ground to host FA Cup finals, this meant that the existence of a team there created a conflict of interest. Nonetheless, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, a professional club of the same name was born in 1905 and “The Glaziers” had arrived.
The club got the nickname “The Glaziers” from the trade of most of their early players, glazers. They would continue to go by this name until the 1970s when the Malcolm Allison era began. As assistant at Manchester City, Allison had shown his potential by helping to build one of their greatest ever squads and winning multiple pieces of silverware. His time at Palace was like a rollercoaster for their fans. He got rid of their nickname and changed it to “The Eagles”, probably the biggest part of his legacy which still lives on today. He threw out their previous claret and blue kit in favour of a more Barcelona-esque red and blue stripe. Not only did he make these fundamental changes to the club’s image but many believe he laid the groundwork for the success on the pitch which soon followed his resignation from the club in May 1976. He was succeeded by his right hand man and prodigy Terry Venables. “El Tel” took the foundation which Allison had built and, via successive promotions, returned The Eagles to the top flight, where they had relative success in the late 70s/early 80s.
After some ups and downs, the early 90s proved to be a period of great success for the club under the tutelage of manager Steve Coppell. He took them to an FA Cup final and a third place finish in the 1990-91 First Division campaign - still their highest ever finish. Unfortunately, due to complications brought about by the tragic Heysel Stadium Disaster, Palace narrowly missed out on European football. Star strikers Mark Bright and Ian Wright were unstoppable during this era, hammering in goal after goal. One particular highlight would be winning the Full Members Cup, a now defunct domestic trophy.
“The Eagles” have a strange rivalry with Brighton & Hove Albion, known as the M23 Derby, named after the motorway which connects Sussex and South London. Due to the unconventionally long distance between the teams, this rivalry baffles English football fans. According to fans of both clubs, this tension didn’t exist between them prior to the 1970s. In 1976, young, hungry coaches Alan Mullery and Terry Venables were appointed managers of Brighton and Palace respectively, and distaste over a previous squabble they had had as players over a captaincy position at Tottenham Hotspur leaked over into animosity between the clubs in general.
Like many English clubs, Crystal Palace have been through many highs and lows, but right now their fans can be happy to know that they are an established Premier League club with a host of international players like captain Luka Milivojević and star winger Wilfried Zaha. It is for this reason that Selhurst Park is rocking every other Saturday at the sight of The Eagles.