We heard from Mick Brown, a terrific features writer of Monsieur Salut’s acquaintance, two years ago and now it’s the turn of his son Dominic Brown*, a fellow Palace fan and also a writer as well as an independent filmmaker – latest documentary Forgotten Bird of Paradise – and human rights campaigner. Some things are even more important than football …
Salut! Sunderland: Alan Pardew – not much of a favourite among Sunderland supporters or, come to that, Newcastle ones. But he’s generally been doing the business for you [as it seemed until recently – Ed]. Your assessment?
Dominic Brown: He had a bright start to his reign last season, but the wheels seem to have come off recently. Our inability to get a win from our last nine league games is starting to make many supporters question Pardew’s judgement. In fairness to him, we have been hit hard by injuries, but our lack of activity in the January transfer window and sub-par team performances has seen us now facing the real possibility of a relegation fight. Three months ago all the talk was about if we were going to get into Europe!
There have been times when outsiders have questioned the sanity of your owners. Has progress in recent seasons pretty much vindicated them in the decisions they’ve taken?
I think they have done remarkably well when you consider the club was on the brink of going under six years ago. There has been a chronic lack of investment in the club and infrastructure over the past 25 years, but under Steve Parish’s guidance things are heading in the right direction. There are some fans that questioned the recent American investment, but it’s clear that we want to continue to compete at the highest level then we need money to develop the stadium without hindering the player budget too.
How has Connor Wickham being doing for you when not getting sent off?
[Question posed and answered before his pair of goal at WBA – Ed] It’s been a stop-start season for Wickham with his injuries and recent suspension. There’s been a lot of pressure on him, following in the footsteps of fans’ favourite Glenn Murray. He has impressed on a couple of occasions, and if he can add some goals to his game he could prove a good purchase. But the jury is most definitely still out.
Who have been the real stars of your season so far and where is strengthening still needed?
Yohan Cabaye has been a class act, and when fit Yannick Bolasie has been unplayable at times. Wilfried Zaha is also getting back to his very best and must be worth a shout for a place at the Euros. Investment is needed in central defence. Damien Delaney has been a great servant but is in his mid thirties. We also need some competition in midfield, with some players club captain Mile Jedinak simply not good enough anymore. A summer of rebuilding is needed.
Your highs and lows as a Palace supporter?
Highs – Play-off success at Wembley in 1997 and 2013, both of which I was fortunate enough to attend.
Lows – Danny Higginbotham’s last minute equaliser for Southampton against us in the penultimate game of the 2005 season. It pretty much consigned us to relegation which was confirmed in our final game.
And the best you’ve seen – or wish you’d been old enough to see – in Palace colours?
The team of 1990/91 which finished 3rd in the old Division One. That was the first year I started going to games. It’s been downhill since then aside from the last couple of years!
Who should have been allowed nowhere near the colours?
Neil Ruddock and Jamie Pollock
Two evening games at your place, two wins for us, sandwiching the one where you tore us apart at the SoL. What did you make of each or any of those games?
Sunderland have been our bogey team at home the last couple of years. On both occasions we’ve played poorly and the normally reliable Scott Dann has been at fault for us.
Yannick Bolasie’s hat-trick at yours last season was obviously a highlight, though it was probably more down to terrible defending more than than anything else. Despite our great away record, I think right now we would be delighted to come away with a point when we meet.
And did you frankly see our woes coming for this season?
There has a huge amount of instability at the club in recent years so it was inevitable. I feel that you guys should have given Martin O’Neill more time. The reigns of Di Canio, Poyet and Advocaat have all been disastrous.
Other thoughts on Sunderland – the club, the fans, the city and region, Big Sam?
Big Sam – possibly the most miserable manager in the division.
Sparing no feelings, this season’s bottom three?
Aston Villa, Norwich, Bournemouth
And the bit of the table that doesn’t concern SAFC, the top four in order?
Arsenal, Man City, Leicester, Tottenham
Where Palace – and we – will finish if not in either list?
I would be happy with another mid-table finish. Despite a great first half to this season, we have been crippled by injuries and a slump in form. The most important thing for us now is securing survival, clearing out the deadwood in the summer and then investing in the team. As for Sunderland, I can’t see things picking up too much for you guys. The sacking of Adam Johnson will no doubt deny you a much needed attacking option, but if Defoe can stay injury-free then I think you’ll have enough to stay up.
Diving: a redundant issue since everyone’s at it or still worth fighting?
It’s something that needs to be stamped out of the game – an automatic 2 match ban issued retrospectively would be a good start for incidents missed in the game. Don’t get me started on Ashley Young…
Best ref, worst ref in the Premier?
Best – Howard Webb. The worst has to be Clattenburg.
Will you be at our game and what will be the score?
I’ll probably just be watching via some dodgy free online stream. Going for a high scoring draw. 3-3
Dominic Brown on himself: My first home game was against Chelsea in 1991 which Palace won 2-1; a game in which Dennis Wise made his Chelsea debut and was subsequently sent off along with Palace’s Andy Gray. Find me on Twitter @zevion or at www.dominic-brown.com
Interview: Colin Randall