Despite its moderate accomplishments in the recent past, Crystal Palace is undeniably enjoying the finest spell in its long history as it gears up for a 10th successive Premier League campaign. This is totally unprecedented for the London club which has mostly competed in the lower divisions of professional football.
Crystal Palace FC is based in the Selhurst area from the Borough of Croydon in South London. The club gets the name from its locality which was named after the Crystal Palace Exhibition Building that was relocated to the area in 1854. The club has not won any major silverware but has featured in 2 FA Cup finals so far.
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Claret and blue were the colours of Crystal Palace for much of its history but it adopted the FC Barcelona inspired red and blue vertical stripes in the 1970’s. At the same time, the club emblem depicting an eagle on top of a football was taken from SL Benfica while the facade of the Crystal Palace building was later incorporated into the background.
Therefore the club and its supporters are nicknamed the Eagles. The local fan-base of Crystal Palace primarily hails from South London along with the counties of Kent and Sussex. The ultras of the club are known as the Holmesdale Fanatics who have been based at the Holmesdale End of Selhurst Park since 2005.
The Eagles initially began with the FA Cup Final venue inside the Crystal Palace grounds as its home-stadium before shifting to the Herne Hill Velodrome after World War I. The club then built Selhurst Park which has remained its home since 1924 and currently has a capacity of 25,486 after being converted into an all-seater stadium.
Due to its location, Crystal Palace is involved in a host of derbies against other clubs from the capital city, particularly with those from South London. Most notable among these are Millwall and Charlton Athletic. However, its most fierce rivals are Brighton & Hove Albion despite being situated 40 miles away on the south coast.
The Crystal Palace Exhibition building was relocated from Hyde Park to Sydenham Hill in 1854. The Crystal Palace Company that owned the building formed the Crystal Palace Club in 1857 to play cricket. It later turned its attention to football and the amateur side Crystal Palace FC was born in 1861.
The amateur club became a founding member of the Football Association in 1863. It therefore competed at the inaugural FA Cup in 1871/72 and reached the semi-finals before bowing out to the Royal Engineers. The club participated in the competition for a few more years before it disbanded in 1875.
The Early Decades
In 1895, the Football Association decided upon a permanent venue for the FA Cup Final at the sports stadium within the Crystal Palace grounds. The Crystal Palace Company, which relied on tourist activity for its proceeds, opted to form its own football club that would play at the stadium to generate fresh attractions for the venue.
And thus, the professional version of Crystal Palace FC was formed on 10th September 1905 under the guidance of Aston Villa assistant secretary Edmund Goodman which is why the club started with a claret and blue stripe. It failed to get elected into the Football League and therefore decided to join the Southern League.
Crystal Palace participated in the Southern League Division Two for 1905/06 and was crowned its champions to earn a swift promotion. In 1906/07, it started in Southern League Division One and ended down in 19th position although it was not relegated back to Division Two.
Over the next decade, the club moved up the table and even ended as runners-up of Southern League Division One in 1913/14, losing the title on an inferior goal-ratio to Swindon Town. World War I would curtail football activities for 4 years before Crystal Palace made its final appearance at the Southern League in 1919/20.
For the 1920/21 campaign, Crystal Palace became the founding members of the Football League Third Division. The club ended the inaugural season as its champions to gain promotion to the 2nd tier. Therefore, it started 1921/22 in the Second Division for the first time and secured 14th spot by the end.
After surviving its maiden campaign in the Second Division, the club was not able to make much progress and instead gradually dropped down in the standings over the next couple of years. After moving into Selhurst Park in 1924/25, Crystal Palace was relegated back to the 3rd tier after finishing in 21st spot.
For the 1925/26 campaign, Crystal Palace featured in Third Division South and ended the season in 13th spot. It was able to collect a top-6 spot in the next couple of seasons before finishing as runners-up to Charlton Athletic in 1928/29 and missed out on the promotion due to a lower goal-average.
Crystal Palace finished as runners-up of Third Division South once again in 1930/31 but trailed the winners Notts County by 8 points this time. The club dropped into mid-table during the 1930’s and was not able to make any serious promotion until the end of the decade when it was runners-up to Newport County in 1938/39.
The Post War Era
World War II started off in Europe at this time and the Football League was suspended for the next 7 years. When it resumed after the war in 1946/47, Crystal Palace was no longer able to compete at the top-end of the Third Division South and ended the season down in 18th position.
In 1948/49, Crystal Palace finished in 22nd position of the Third Division South but was able to stay in the 3rd tier after getting re-elected at the end of the season. It ended rock-bottom of the league once again in 1950/51 when it was extended to 24 teams but was re-elected to stay in the division once more.
Crystal Palace lingered on at the lower-end of Third Division South for the opening-half of the 1950’s. It finished down in 23rd spot in 1955/56 but was once again re-elected to remain in the league. Yet it was relegated at the end of 1956/57 as the Football League de-regionalised the Third Division into one single league.
Therefore Crystal Palace became a founding member of the Football League Fourth Division in 1958/59. It ended the inaugural campaign of the 4th tier in 7th position before moving down a notch to 8th spot in 1959/60. In the following 19060/61 season, it ended as runners-up behind Peterborough United to seal its promotion.
Upon its return to the Third Division in 1961/62, Crystal Palace managed to ensure its survival with a 15th place finish before moving up to 11th position in the next campaign. In 1963/64, it finished as runners-up behind Coventry City due to a lower goal-average but nevertheless secured its return to the 2nd tier after four decades.
After moving up to the Second Division, Crystal Palace registered its highest-ever league finish with 7th place in 1964/65. The club remained in the mid-table for the next 4 years before it jumped up to finish 1968/69 as runners-up to Derby County and seal its first promotion to the top-flight.
Up & Down
In 1969/70, Crystal Palace started its maiden campaign at the First Division and was able to narrowly escape relegation after finishing just 1 point above the drop-zone in 20th position. The Eagles managed to survive the next couple of seasons as well despite languishing at the bottom-end of the table.
Nevertheless, Crystal Palace dropped out from the top-flight after ending the 1972/73 campaign in 21st position. But the club would have to suffer consecutive relegations after finishing the 1973/74 season in 20th spot of the Second Division to put it back in the 3rd tier of English football after a 10 year period.
Crystal Palace was back in the Third Division for 1974/75 which it ended on 5th spot in the standings and repeated the performance in the following 1975/76 campaign. In 1976/77, the Eagles finished in 3rd position and therefore earned the final promotion spot for moving up to the 2nd tier.
On its comeback to the Second Division in 1977/78, Crystal Palace managed to secure 9th position in the league-table at the end of the season. In the subsequent 1978/79 campaign, the Eagles finished as the winners of the Second Division for the first time and sealed its 2nd promotion to the top-flight.
When it returned to the First Division in 1979/80, Crystal Palace was able to seal its top-tier status fairly comfortably with a 13th place finish. But 1980/81 would turn out to be a whole lot more difficult and the club was handed an early relegation as it ended 16 points behind the safety-margin in 20th spot.
Palace could not make a quick move back to the top-flight as it ended the 1981/82 campaign in 15th place of the Second Division. The Eagles stayed at the lower end for a while but settled into the top-6 spot by the mid 80’s. In 1988/89, it took 3rd place before beating Swindon Town and Blackburn Rovers in the playoffs to seal its promotion.
The Contemporary Period
For 1989/90, Crystal Palace featured in the First Division and was able to stay in the top-flight with a 15th place finish. The Eagles also reached the FA Cup final for the first time and lost 1-0 to Manchester United in the replay. In 1990/91, it claimed 3rd spot in the league-table to record the club’s highest-ever finish in the top-tier.
The Premier League Era
Crystal Palace dropped down to 10th in the following campaign which turned out to be the final season of the First Division as the top-flight of England. In 1992/93, Palace was a founding member of the Premier League but ended the campaign in 20th spot to get relegated from the new top-tier in the inaugural season.
In 1993/94, Crystal Palace moved into Football League Division One and picked up the title at the end of the season to earn a direct promotion to the top-tier. It returned for its 2nd Premier League outing in 1994/95 but was sent promptly back down after finishing the campaign in 19th place.
The Eagles earned the opportunity for an instant promotion in 1995/96 with a 3rd place finish in Division but went on to lose the playoff-final against Leicester City. In 1996/97, Palace finished in 6th position and went into the playoff once again where it went past Wolverhampton Wanderers and Sheffield United to get back into the top-flight.
Palace was back in the Premier League for the 3rd time in 1997/98 but its tenure lasted just a single campaign yet again as it was relegated after finishing in the bottom of the standings in 20th spot. After this the Eagles failed to compete at the top-end of Division One and would spend the next 5 years in the 2nd tier.
The club was nearly relegated from Division One in 2000/01 when it ended just a point above the drop-zone in 21st position. However, it rose up to mid-table in the next couple of seasons and earned 6th place at the end of 2003/04 before beating Sunderland and West Ham United in the playoffs to win promotion to the top-tier.
On returning to the top-flight in 2004/05, Crystal Palace was involved in an uphill battle for survival right from the outset. And for the 4th time the Eagles had failed to survive a single Premier League campaign and was relegated on the final day of the season after finishing in 18th spot.
In 2005/06, Crystal Palace featured in the 2nd tier of English football that was renamed Football League Championship. The Eagles bagged a playoff berth by finishing the campaign in 6th position but could not earn promotion after being defeated by Watford at the semi-final stage.
Crystal Palace was able to secure a playoff-spot again in 2007/08 after taking 5th position in the Championship but it missed out on promotion after going down against Bristol City in the semi-final. The Eagles fell down the table over the next few years and narrowly escaped relegation in the 2009/10 season when it ended in 21st place.
Despite avoiding the drop, Palace stayed at the lower-end of the Championship for a couple more years. But in 2012/13, the Eagles soared to take 5th place in the table and earn themselves a playoff-spot. The club then beat arch-rivals Brighton & Hove Albion before notching a 1-0 win over Watford in the final to earn its ticket to the top-division.
Upon returning to the top-flight in 2014/15, Crystal Palace survived a Premier League season for the first time by finishing in 11th position. In 2014/15, it sneaked into the top-half with a 10th place finish. 2015/16 was a more challenging campaign but the Eagles reached the FA Cup final where it was beaten 1-2 in extra-time by Man Utd.
Since then, Crystal Palace has remained surprisingly consistent, finishing in the lower mid-table of the Premier League while steering clear of any relegation threat. For the 2021/22 campaign, it brought Patrick Vieira as its manager who delivered a solid 12th place in his first season and so the sky looks rather bright for the Eagles at present.
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