How Dare We? Crystal Palace, Tony Pulis and the curse of Sixer

Sixer as diplomat
Sixer as diplomat

Are woodentops in charge at Selhurst? Among insane decisions in football, away from Luis Suarez’s insistence on fighting tooth and jaw for what Uruguayan officials assure us as are just South America’s ‘different’ cultural traditions, the forced exit of Tony Pulis from Crystal Palace must rank high. To adapt a witty thought in today’s Guardian, ‘mutual consent’ was possibly a typo for ‘mutual contempt’ between Pulis and co-chairman Steve Parish. So Palace start the season without one of the few men in football who could have dragged them out of the mire last season. And all after our own Sixer heaped praise on him ….

It should have been obvious trouble was in store when a Crystal Palace site, The Eagles Beak, asked for a contribution to a project on what other Premier fans thought of their club, and Salut! Sunderland volunteered Pete Sixsmith.

Sixer is fair and decent man but the fairness and decency do not extend to possessing any fondness for Palace or even a willingness to fake it for the sake of inter-club friendship.

The Eagles Beak’s Jay Crame agreed with me that a spot of controversy was no bad thing and warmly welcomed the idea of an infidel chipping in. And this is what Pete wrote, before Parish excommunicated Pulis or Pulis opted to leave the madhouse:

“I would expect Palace to have a decent season. They did well last year and Tony Pulis is a shrewd, if unexciting, operator. He will get the best and more out of his players and I do not envisage Palace being involved in the relegation scrap this year.

I am not fond of Palace as a club. The ground is awful by current standards and inaccessible for us Northerners, who expect to jump on a tube at Kings Cross and get off outside the ground. Palace is bloody difficult – nobody knows quite where it is. The first time I went in 1969, the coach driver ended up at the National Recreation Centre. And we lost 2-0. And got relegated ……..

Jake: 'we like meddling in other people's business'
Jake: ‘we like meddling in other people’s business’

Since then, Selhurst has been a real graveyard for us so that may be a good reason for not much liking The Glaziers.

But I just cannot engage with them. They seem to be a limbo club, neither London nor Croydon and with a fan base that comes and goes. I always think that there is a sense of artificialness about them – the constant singing and jumping about suggests fans who are more concerned about their image than in watching the football.

However, football-wise, I think that they have a chance of establishing themselves in the top division. Good players like Gayle, Jedinak, Dann and Ledley are solid performers and will work hard. That Palace have produced players like Moses, Clyne and Zaha is a testimony to their Academy and shows that they tap into the local population effectively.

Pulis is your great strength. He is a clever manager who knows how to survive and he is a builder – he should have learned from his experiences at Stoke, where he did pay over the odds for players.”

Pity about the ground, the location and my probably unwarranted anti-Palace prejudices.

Mick: ‘me and my son Dominic at the play-off final against Watford'
Mick: ‘me and my son Dominic at the play-off final against Watford’
* In one of last season’s ‘Who are You?’ interviews, prior to the SAFC vs CrystaL Palace game, with Eagles-supporting top journalist Mick Brown had kind words for both Pulis and the Suits as well as being right about the game about to be played. What can he be thinking now? …

Full interview at


Salut! Sunderland: From looking dead and gone, Palace suddenly seem as capable as many in that bottom 7-11 places to survive (and, of course, did survive – . Is is what you expected of Tony Pulis and how has he managed to give you at least a sporting chance?

Mick Brown:

… I don’t think anyone realistically expected us to survive when Pulis took over – except for Pulis himself. One of the things he’s done is instilled a confidence and self-belief that had almost totally evaporated; and he’s organised the team so that we’re playing to our (admittedly limited) strengths. We were conceding a horrific number of goals; he’s organised the defence and made us very hard to break down, as Man City, Chelsea and Arsenal have all found. There were the predictable fears when Pulis came in that we were going to be playing a negative, long-ball game; and not everybody is happy with letting other teams dominate so much of the possession, and trying to hit them on the break. But it’s proved very effective, and we’ve also been playing some very good football at times. Pulis is a fantastically experienced manager, tactically astute and he clearly commands the respect of the players. I like the way he just gets on with the job in a very thorough, professional way. No posturing, no whining. Overall, he’s done a brilliant job.

Salut!: What do you make of the Hosking/Long/ Browett/Parish ownership and how far can they realistically take your club?


They’ve been fantastic. They saved us from extinction. They’re all die-hard fans. They’ve spent within their budget, and, George Burley aside, made the right decisions on managerial appointments. I think when Freedman left us for Bolton, Holloway was exactly the right choice to replace him and get us over the line; and when Holloway was unable to continue, they dug in for Tony Pulis, who again, was obviously the right choice. I really do believe they’re in for the long term, and with plans for a new ground we can become a major force. But a lot depends on surviving this season, of course.

** Steve Parish’s response is eagerly awaited.


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1 thought on “How Dare We? Crystal Palace, Tony Pulis and the curse of Sixer”

  1. (Via Facebook)

    What to say? I’m as surprised by this as anybody – although probably shouldn’t be. From the moment Pulis stepped through the door at Selhurst there’s been tension between him and Parish over funds for transfers, with the persistent whispers that Parish wouldn’t trump up the money for players that Pulis wanted.

    Parish obviously keeps a tight hold on the purse strings, and in my opinion is right to do so. From the get go he’s always been determined that the club should operate within its budget. It probably hasn’t helped that immediately before Pulis arrived Parish had appointed Ian Moody as the man to take care of transfers. There’s been a lot of rumour and speculation this week about Parish not delivering a midfielder, that we really do need – whether its N’Zonzi, Shelvey or Cork – and of Parish wanting to bring back Zaha and Pulis not wanting him.

    Obviously Pulis has been fantastic for us – superhuman almost, pulling us back from the brink of disaster. He’s built a fantastic team spirit at the club, and looked to have established a really solid foundation to build on. I think it would be right to say he has the undying gratitude and respect of every Palace fan. But that said, I do think it’s unforgivable for him to bale out 48 hours before the first game of the season. Whatever the differences between him and Parish, surely Pulis could have swallowed his pride for a month or two. As it is he’s kicked his players, the fans and the club in the balls. One of the fan sites has been running a poll this morning, who’s right and wrong? Interestingly something like 75% support Parish. It really is that old cliche, no-one should be bigger than the club – and I think maybe Pulis thought he was.

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