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Memory Lane Memories and nostalgia about Crystal Palace F.C

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Old 24-08-2020, 08:35 AM
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1990/91 season - game by game

I thought it might be a bit of fun for old farts like to me to take an extended walk down memory lane and reminisce about the seminal 1990/91 season game by game. Alternatively this could die on its arse if no-one is interested but let’s see. The theory is that I will post up a brief summary of each game a day or two before the 30th anniversary date (hard to believe it’s all 30 years ago), and see what reminiscences people have.

Brief context – this was easily the most successful season in the club’s history with a comfortable third place finish and we were in with a realistic shout of winning the bloody thing until a tonking at the hands of eventual champions Arsenal in late February (spoiler alert). We also won the ZDS Trophy, admittedly something of a Mickey Mouse competition but still fantastic to see us winning at Wembley a year after the FA Cup final heartbreak. 1990/91 was certainly the ‘Zenith’ for this team which Steve Coppell had assembled, a collection of cast-offs and lower league bargains alongide a few astute bigger money signings to strengthen in key areas. From memory, we had brought in three players over the summer. John Humphrey came in at right back to replace the popular John Pemberton, who was shunted off to Sheffield United. Eric Young (or ‘Eric Old’ as some Palace fans labelled the 30 year old) arrived to partner his old Wimbledon mate Andy Thorn in the heart of the defence. And another Wimbledon old boy Glyn Hodges was signed to add some creative flair (or so we thought).

From a personal perspective I had turned 18 in the few days between the FA Cup final first game and replay, and after having spent the early part of the summer immersing myself in Italia 90 and the Madchester vibe, I started my first proper job at the beginning of August in the AMP building adjacent to East Croydon station. So the world was my oyster with proper money in my pocket for the first time.

On we go to the first game then, which was on 25 August 1990 away to Luton Town. Again hard to believe now, but Luton were considered a reasonably established top flight outfit then, having gained promotion under David Pleat in the early 80s and stayed put. They’d even won the League Cup in 1988. The game was played in front of a pathetic crowd of 9,583, caused by the ban on away fans which Luton’s extremist right-winger chairman David Evans had imposed. A number of Palace fans did thought infiltrate the stadium, as could be seen when the goals were shown on TV.

The match ended in a 1-1 draw, our goal coming from debutant Eric Young (from memory, a towering header from a corner??). This was deemed a satisfactory result in our opening game as we looked to build on our 15th place finish (out of 22) in the previous season.

Over to you – what memories of this game, and what were your thoughts and feelings as the new season got underway?
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Old 24-08-2020, 09:05 AM
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Great idea! I’ve got a scrapbook of paper reports from every game that season, so will try and add them as we go along. It might however just be you and me Bipe.

Here is the video of the whole season’s review:





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Yes, i was one of those that got in under false pretences. A mate managed to get a few membership cards from a guy at work that were basically bought by someone then loaned for a price to away fans throughout the season. There were quite a lot of Palace there, certainly behind one of the goals where we stood.

My memory of the game is that it was a very hot day. Don’t think we played particularly well, just never got started, and recall feeling a little frustrated as we’d led, but at the same time, not too disappointed with an away point. It was Dowie that scored for them right in front of us. As you said it was Ninja’s debut, so off to a fine start. Interesting to note in the match report the line ‘transfer listed John Salako’. I recall him wanting away the season before due to lack of action, but thought that was all sorted after the Cup Final.
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Old 24-08-2020, 09:32 AM
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As I was only 8 at the time, I cannot really remember the season but will read this thread with great interest. So please don't give up even if it is only 2 of you!
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Old 24-08-2020, 10:22 AM
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Not football related, but another thing that I’ll always remember from that day was an incident before the game. Got to the ground slightly early and me and my brother and mate were just walking round the ground among the crowd. Spotted a large man in his 50’s/60’s laid out on his back unconscious. Not sure how long he’d been lying there. It was a steaming hot day and looked like he’d had one too many and had passed out, which I guess is what everyone else presumed as the crowds just looked and kept walking by. Soon noticed a few coppers go over and the next an ambulance came. Heard afterwards the guy had collapsed with a heart attack and passed away. Not sure if true or not, but was a sad state of affairs that so many people just walked past and left him lying there presuming he was drunk. Was 17 at the time but still felt guilty afterwards for just taking everyone else’s cue and ignore a man that needed help desperately.

Think life and football has changed considerably since then - or like to think so - and couldn’t see that happening now. It was quite common back then to see people very worse for wear outside a ground.
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Old 24-08-2020, 10:35 AM
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Thanks Bubbs, that actually sounds similar to the situation my father found himself in last month when he'd wandered into town for a haircut and realised he wasn't going to make it. Luckily a couple of passers by came to his aid and managed to help him home, where he deteriorated and was declared dead about an hour later after immense work from the paramedics to revive him. But I will always be grateful to that couple for taking the time to get him home to be with his wife in his final moments rather than passing away in the street.

Back on topic and I think your scrapbook entries will add some real colour to this thread. Interesting on Salako as my recollection is pretty much the same as yours. He was definitely getting frustrated at the lack of regular game time in the early part of the 89/90 season and he ended up on loan at Swansea where our former assistant Ian Evans was manager. The reports at the time were that this was with a view to a potential permanent transfer. However Ian Wright's leg break in January opened the door for him. I recall that he started up front against Southampton, scored a couple and never really looked back. He certainly played an integral part in both the FA Cup semi and final, playing a more defensive role with great tactical discipline. So it seemed all set up for him to progress in the new season, although I guess the signing of Hodges as a left sided midfielder was a threat to him, albeit that Hodges was a different sort of player and certainly not an out and out winger like Salako.
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Old 24-08-2020, 10:48 AM
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Thanks Bubbs, that actually sounds similar to the situation my father found himself in last month when he'd wandered into town for a haircut and realised he wasn't going to make it. Luckily a couple of passers by came to his aid and managed to help him home, where he deteriorated and was declared dead about an hour later after immense work from the paramedics to revive him. But I will always be grateful to that couple for taking the time to get him home to be with his wife in his final moments rather than passing away in the street.

Back on topic and I think your scrapbook entries will add some real colour to this thread. Interesting on Salako as my recollection is pretty much the same as yours. He was definitely getting frustrated at the lack of regular game time in the early part of the 89/90 season and he ended up on loan at Swansea where our former assistant Ian Evans was manager. The reports at the time were that this was with a view to a potential permanent transfer. However Ian Wright's leg break in January opened the door for him. I recall that he started up front against Southampton, scored a couple and never really looked back. He certainly played an integral part in both the FA Cup semi and final, playing a more defensive role with great tactical discipline. So it seemed all set up for him to progress in the new season, although I guess the signing of Hodges as a left sided midfielder was a threat to him, albeit that Hodges was a different sort of player and certainly not an out and out winger like Salako.
My condolences
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Old 24-08-2020, 11:29 AM
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Yes, condolences Bipe. Never easy times. Glad there was someone there for him to get him home.
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Old 25-08-2020, 02:40 AM
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I remember the build-up to the game being over-shadowed by the impending war in the Middle East. The Iraqi invasion of Kuwait was on 2nd August 1990. The Luton match was just 23 days later although in that short period of time, war seemed increasingly likely. It still took another 5 and half months of failed diplomacy for it come down to shooting; there was nothing like the rush to fighting of the 2nd Iraq War. At the time, we weren't as blasé about war in the same way as we've become more recently and it felt like something really bloody serious was brewing. Nowadays these things seem to just blow over us.

It was a pretty uninspiring Luton line-up: Alec CHAMBERLAIN, Tim BREACKER, Dave BEAUMONT, Julian JAMES, John DREYER, David PREECE, Darron McDONOUGH, Ceri HUGHES+(Jason REES), Kingsley BLACK, Lars ELSTRUP, Iain DOWIE •

Not many destined for greatness there. Mr Dowie will of course always hold a modicum of affection in our hearts and scored their equalizer. The one player whose star blazed brightly allbeit briefly was Danish striker Lars Elstrup. Less than 2 years later in the European Championship Finals in Sweden he scored the winner in their group match against France, as a substitute, that put Denmark into the Semi Finals. Then, again as a substitute, he scored one of the penalties in the shoot-out that put Denmark into the Final at the expense of The Netherlands. He didn't appear in the final but qualified for a winner's medal.

It was John Humphrey, Eric Young and Glynn Hodges' Palace debuts. The first 2 were inspired signings at the heart of our defence. Hodges' not so much. If ever a player's style was unsuited to the team's style of play that we were clearly going to persist with then it was him. Unhurried, deliberate, stylish but never on the same wavelength as his team mates and frankly slow. I've never understood what the hell Coppell was thinking of. He was never going to be bombing down the wing for the touchline like archetypical Palace wingers of the era.

And it was Mark Dennis' last ever match for us. Possibly released too early. Richard Shaw eventually proved himself a better left back but when you consider the amount of subsequent matches that Paul Bodin and Lee Sinnott played over the next couple of seasons in that position, it's hard not to think that he should have been given a bit longer. He never let us down.
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Old 25-08-2020, 06:23 AM
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I see Wikipedia says that Mark Dennis only ever played 9 games for us. To be fair to Coppell his year and a bit at Palace was blighted by injury and he retired because of that aged only 30, so I assume that Coppell wasn't able to select him more often. Certainly in those handful of games as you say he still looked a good player.

If memory serves didn't Dave Madden also make a brief appearance off the bench in this Luton game? Would have been one of his final appearances in a Palace shirt too.

You are right about that Luton line up. A personal footnote about Kingsley Black - I started following Grimsby Town a fair bit in the mid 1990s after meeting my now wife, who was born and bred there. Kingsley ended up there after his big money move to Forest never really worked out. In 1998 they did a Wembley 'double', winning both the Autoglass Trophy (or whatever incarnation it had in that season) and the league one play off final. The Autoglass game was against Bournemouth including a certain Eddie Howe in midfield, Kingsley scored the equaliser before the Mariners won it with an extra time golden goal.
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Old 25-08-2020, 06:25 AM
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PS the Bournemouth side also included Jimmy Glass, Jamie Vincent and Ian Cox.
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Old 25-08-2020, 07:05 AM
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Ahh Dave Madden. Had a look at my stats from that time and Madden didn’t play that day, in fact his last appearance for us ended up being the Cup Final replay. Mark Dennis was our only substitute against Luton, coming on for Hodges. O’Reilly was an unused substitute.

I do know Madden soon joined Maidstone and presume that was at the start of the season as he doesn’t feature in the team photo taken at the start of the campaign.

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Old 25-08-2020, 09:47 AM
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My abiding memory/ies of that game was the Palace fans, not just the number but the fact the vast majority had been situated together, not even attempting to conceal the fact; it was almost as if those actually having to manage the away fans ban had just jacked it in and decided to do their own thing. Andy Thorn was pissing himself laughing at the cheer that went up when the team came out.
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Old 25-08-2020, 10:04 AM
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Great idea! I’ve got a scrapbook of paper reports from every game that season, so will try and add them as we go along. It might however just be you and me Bipe.

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Yes, i was one of those that got in under false pretences. A mate managed to get a few membership cards from a guy at work that were basically bought by someone then loaned for a price to away fans throughout the season. There were quite a lot of Palace there, certainly behind one of the goals where we stood.

My memory of the game is that it was a very hot day. Don’t think we played particularly well, just never got started, and recall feeling a little frustrated as we’d led, but at the same time, not too disappointed with an away point. It was Dowie that scored for them right in front of us. As you said it was Ninja’s debut, so off to a fine start. Interesting to note in the match report the line ‘transfer listed John Salako’. I recall him wanting away the season before due to lack of action, but thought that was all sorted after the Cup Final.
Fantastic memories. Please keep them coming!
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Old 25-08-2020, 10:23 AM
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Sorry for your troubles, Bipe. And fair play to that couple for getting your father home.

Great thread. My season ticket was at the very back of Block V in the AW at this time so I'll follow it with interest and chip in now and again. I wasn't at the Luton away game though.
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Old 25-08-2020, 10:42 AM
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Can one of those that have the info add a team sheet for each game?
And, did the papers give ratings for each player at the time?
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Old 25-08-2020, 11:02 AM
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I recollect that three of us managed to get tickets at the ground, on production of just one membership card, so I don't know what sort of limit there was on tickets you could get, maybe four. I borrowed the membership card from a Chelsea supporting work colleague and I think it was common practice among the fans supporting London clubs to pass the cards around in order to beat the ban. My son got the tickets at the ground, whilst me and my mate were in the pub. He was about 18 at the time, whereas the dob on the card related to someone aged 27, so I don't think any serious id checks were made.
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Old 25-08-2020, 11:16 AM
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Can one of those that have the info add a team sheet for each game?
And, did the papers give ratings for each player at the time?
I did try to Google the line ups for the match without success. Looks like Bubbs and Elwiss have access to better quality info though, so hopefully we can rely on them for this aspect which I think would be interesting (both our side and the opponents).
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Old 25-08-2020, 12:14 PM
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I do know Madden soon joined Maidstone and presume that was at the start of the season as he doesn’t feature in the team photo taken at the start of the campaign.

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I saw Madden a month later in a Gills v Maidstone Kent derby. Best player on the pitch. I was in the Gills end but I had no beef with Maidstone, unlike every other Gills fan, which made it awkward when I applauded a typical piece of Madden class. I kept shtum after that!
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Old 25-08-2020, 12:42 PM
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I was on holiday for the Chelsea home game but went to the Sheffield United game on the Saturday - remember being pleased with the way Glyn Hodges played in that game - thought he had a touch of class about him, but that ended up being incorrect.
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Old 25-08-2020, 12:44 PM
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colonel will cross the room to turn the lights down lowcolonel will cross the room to turn the lights down lowcolonel will cross the room to turn the lights down lowcolonel will cross the room to turn the lights down lowcolonel will cross the room to turn the lights down lowcolonel will cross the room to turn the lights down lowcolonel will cross the room to turn the lights down lowcolonel will cross the room to turn the lights down lowcolonel will cross the room to turn the lights down lowcolonel will cross the room to turn the lights down lowcolonel will cross the room to turn the lights down low
Thank you thank you thank you - just one of my best ever seasons as an 18 year old supporter and to have this as a running thread will be great!
I never understood why Pembo and Madden were jettisoned - Pembo could be a bit loose at the back but offered loads going forward (PVA?). Madden and Mrs Coppell was a rumour back then.
Any ITK?
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Without the pain, the pleasure of supporting Palace would be less.
The big clubs can't understand that.
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