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Memory Lane Memories and nostalgia about Crystal Palace F.C

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  #1  
Old 28-08-2020, 03:04 AM
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Palace’s first ever Football League match - 28th August 1920.

Today marks quite an important landmark in the history of our club and indeed the Football League.

Up until 1920, Palace had spent the majority of their 15 years playing in the Southern League - apart from the 1st World War years between 1915-18. Other London clubs, had entered the Football League a little earlier than Palace, at the time of our foundation in 1905, the Football League was mainly the preserve of Northern and Midland clubs, only Arsenal in 1893 and Luton (very briefly between 1897-1900) had joined the Football League and it took Arsenal a full 10 seasons to reach the First Division in 1904 - clubs such as Chelsea, Orient, Fulham and Spurs only joined the Football League after Palace were formed in 1905.

Palace were among the majority of Southern League clubs to form the new Football League Third Division in 1920 - the Northern clubs did not form the Northern Section until 1921 - so when Palace won the title in 1921, we became the first ever winners of Division Three.

Of course, in true Palace style, the first match ended in defeat, away to Merthyr Town in South Wales. Merthyr only lasted till 1930 in the FL and got voted out in favour of another short lived club called Thames who played at West Ham greyhound track and wore red and blue (1930/33).

It was quite an auspicious day back in 1920 and here is a newspaper clip from the
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Old 28-08-2020, 03:36 AM
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Up until 1920, Palace had spent the majority of their 15 years...
59, surely...?

Thanks for posting the write-up!
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Old 28-08-2020, 05:07 AM
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Fantastic wordsmith whoever wrote the report. Some ‘hot shots’ and ‘hot play’ indeed.

Sounds like a late goal defeated us.

Imagine my shock at that revelation
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Old 28-08-2020, 05:56 AM
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59, surely...?
Lets just put that down to lockdown boredom and leave it on a dusty bookshelf
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Old 28-08-2020, 06:19 AM
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59, surely...?

Thanks for posting the write-up!
This is true (!) - but of course the original club took a short hiatus between 1883 and 1905 whilst the Football League (1888) and Southern League (1894) were being formed, so we have only the seasons from 1905 as league football.

Interestingly, Arsenal, who of course originated South of the Thames were the instigators of the Southern League as early as 1891, but ran up against opposition from the London F.A. in the shape of N. L. (Pa) Jackson, who was very anti-professionalism (if you were following the history of the original CPFC, he was charge with managing the ‘Crystal Palace’ teams that played in 1895 and 1896, mainly drawn from Corinthian FC players, the famous club he also founded.

Because Jackson was so set against Arsenal forming the Southern League as a professional enterprise, they were forced into joining the mainly Northern Football League instead.

It was left to Millwall to who were initially an East London club to pioneer the Southern League in 1894 instead - Millwall moving south to New Cross in 1910 and Arsenal from Plumstead to Islington in 1913 having virtually gone bankrupt in 1910, mainly because of the huge expense of competing and travelling to the North and Midlands.

The Palace board were probably wise to steer clear of the Football League initially, it really was the move to the Nest at Selhurst in 1918 that saw Palace’s gates increase significantly - and winning promotion in 1921 meant that Palace were competing against Northern and Midland teams etc for the first time, but had already established a decent support base.
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Old 28-08-2020, 08:35 AM
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The game was played at Penydarren Park in Merthyr, which is still there, and used by the current Merthyr Town FC. Oddly the press report above calls our opponents Merthyr Town, but Wikipedia says that the original team was called Merthyr Tydfil.
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Old 28-08-2020, 12:20 PM
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The game was played at Penydarren Park in Merthyr, which is still there, and used by the current Merthyr Town FC. Oddly the press report above calls our opponents Merthyr Town, but Wikipedia says that the original team was called Merthyr Tydfil.
The place name is Merthyr Tydfil, Tydfil being the name of a local Saint, but the football team have always been known as Merthyr Town, it seems to be quite an chestnut confusing the two names.

If you look at the Southern League Division One Table for the previous season (1919/20) - something odd will be seen regarding Cardiff



That’s right, Cardiff managed to bypass Division Three altogether, despite finishing lower than Palace in 1919/1920.

Other not well known facts from the time - Leeds United who newly formed in 1920 after the bankruptcy of Leeds City were, like Cardiff, voted straight into Division Two.

After Palace’s promotion in 1921, a little team from local london football, having previously only played in the Lewisham and Bexley junior leagues before WWI and having just joined the Southern League in 1920 took Palace’s place in Division Three - Charlton Athletic.
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Old 28-08-2020, 12:23 PM
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Originally Posted by StevePlus View Post
The game was played at Penydarren Park in Merthyr, which is still there, and used by the current Merthyr Town FC. Oddly the press report above calls our opponents Merthyr Town, but Wikipedia says that the original team was called Merthyr Tydfil.
The place name is Merthyr Tydfil, Tydfil being the name of a local Saint, but the football team have always been known as Merthyr Town, it seems to be quite an chestnut confusing the two names.

If you look at the Southern League Division One Table for the previous season (1919/20) - something odd will be seen regarding Cardiff :





That’s right, Cardiff managed to bypass Division Three altogether, despite finishing lower than Palace in 1919/1920.

Other not well known facts from the time - Leeds United who newly formed in 1920 after the bankruptcy of Leeds City were, like Cardiff, voted straight into Division Two.

After Palace’s promotion in 1921, a little team from local london football, having previously only played in the Lewisham and Bexley junior leagues before WWI and having just joined the Southern League in 1920 took Palace’s place in Division Three - Charlton Athletic.
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Old 28-08-2020, 02:11 PM
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It was quite an auspicious day back in 1920 and here is a newspaper clip from the

The two words I thought I'd never see in a sentence Merthyr and aggressive

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Old 29-08-2020, 08:26 AM
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Thanks for the information of our first ever league game. Perhaps we should have played them in a friendly to mark the occasion? It was quite a journey for Palace in those days and the game kicked off at 5pm. George Milligan had a short career with us just two games he was soon back in Scotland. Palace signed him from Clyde and he was also with Burnley.
Pleased fond attached report of the game from the 'Croydon Times' it is in two pages as page copy was bigger. The following Saturday we beat Merthyr Town 3-0 in the return fixture they seemed to play the games then the same team the week after. We drew our first home game 0-0 v Plymouth Argyle midweek.
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File Type: pdf v Mer 1.pdf (1.43 MB, 9 views)
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Old 29-08-2020, 08:35 AM
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The thumbnail is the lower part of the page. File has the main report.
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Old 29-08-2020, 08:51 AM
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The place name is Merthyr Tydfil, Tydfil being the name of a local Saint, but the football team have always been known as Merthyr Town, it seems to be quite an chestnut confusing the two names.
The club was known as Merthyr Town until June 1934 when it was disbanded with debts of over £3000. Merthyr Tydfil FC started playing not long after the end of World War 2 but went into liquidation in the summer of 2010. Thanks to a very active supporters trust the club was reformed as Merthyr Town but dropped three divisions.

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Old 29-08-2020, 12:23 PM
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The club was known as Merthyr Town until June 1934 when it was disbanded with debts of over £3000. Merthyr Tydfil FC started playing not long after the end of World War 2 but went into liquidation in the summer of 2010. Thanks to a very active supporters trust the club was reformed as Merthyr Town but dropped three divisions.

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Cheers for that. It’s funny because I’m sure there was a piece written on the game by the legendary Rev Nigel Sands in the Palace programme in the mid 1970’s (frightening to think that is nearly half a century ago!) - it may even have been a competition answer, where the Rev stated the team were called Merthyr Town not Merthyr Tydfil.

What is interesting about the South Wales teams, Merthyr, Newport and Swansea is that they were all formed around the same time, between 1909-1912, when the F.A. were trying to get a foothold into the mainly Rugby Union stronghold.

Cardiff City were formed in 1899, but as Riverside FC and didn’t become known as Cardiff until 1908. There’s even a note of Palace playing Cardiff in a friendly at the old Cardiff Arms Park, right at the time of the name change and also being the first English side to play in Swansea, before Swansea FC were formed, as a means of introducing the game to the town.
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Old 29-08-2020, 03:13 PM
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Fantastic wordsmith whoever wrote the report. Some ‘hot shots’ and ‘hot play’ indeed.

Sounds like a late goal defeated us.

Imagine my shock at that revelation

When I read pre-war match reports or news in general, one of the most impressive things is the writing skills of the journalists. Nowadays, you read a national daily match report or a summary from the BBC web and you'd think it was written by an 11 year old who'd just failed the English section of the 11 plus.
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Old 29-08-2020, 05:46 PM
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What is interesting about the South Wales teams, Merthyr, Newport and Swansea is that they were all formed around the same time, between 1909-1912, when the F.A. were trying to get a foothold into the mainly Rugby Union stronghold.
In October 1909 Palace played two friendlies in South Wales at Ton Pentre and the following day against Cardiff at Cardiff Arms Park.

According to "The Origin of Crystal Palace FC" this was part of an initiative by the Management of the Southern League (of which Sydney Bourne was a member) to introduce football in the South Wales area. At the same time Palace were in South Wales Bourne and the League secretary were interviewing 'certain gentlemen' from Newport and Swansea with a view to the formation of clubs in their towns.
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Old 30-08-2020, 12:46 PM
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Ton Pentre is just up the road from me. Definitely get a re-match next Summer.
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Old 30-08-2020, 12:58 PM
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Merthyr away would be a good day out.
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Old 31-08-2020, 11:11 AM
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Palace played their first home Football League Division Three fixture on Wednesday, 1st September 1920.

Not 100% sure, but I think shops and factories used to close at 12 noon on Wednesdays and this was reflected in the gate for the time. The ground at the Nest was probably capable of holding four times that, but this was in the day of hardly any safety restrictions, no floodlights, apart from the nearby train depot, and most of the crowd would have stood on the tightly packed terraces, apart from a few hundred seats in the main stand.

This report from the following day’s Western Morning News gives the location as ‘Croydon’ which is also quite a rarity in reports I’ve seen.
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Old 31-08-2020, 11:37 AM
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I know that shops did shut Wednesday at lunch time, l remember those days.
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Old 31-08-2020, 11:41 AM
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That was Milligans last game for the club. Croydon paper says he was injured but finished the game.
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