John McCormick writes:
Salut Sunderland has always welcomed good writing, from supporters of any team. This post continues that fine tradition and, as our leader is away, gives me the honour of introducing a contributor from one of next season’s new arrivals. You’ll already have no doubt read that Sixer was not too bothered by the playoff final result and I’ll be adding my own view in a week or so.
In the meantime, Ross Crawford, young enough to have missed the 92 cup final (the one we don’t talk about) and probably also Kevin Phillips’s 1998 Wembley appearance, gives his unashamed, unbiased and unfettered account of a more recent season when SuperKev once again proved his worth.
Over to Ross:
In my younger days I was given little option about what team to support, growing up with my father and step father both being Palace fans. Palace are my local club, and they have always played a big part of my life. Being a Palace fan is quite exciting. Very rarely do we find ourselves in mid-table security. We are often fighting for survival amidst financial trouble, or thriving for promotion.
Games that optimise this can be seen with our thrilling 2-2 draw with Sheffield Wednesday, where the loser would be relegated or our famous 2-1 loss against Sunderland in the play-off semi-final second leg, securing a place in the final and future promotion with a little help of a shove on Mart Poom from Neil Shipperley.
Yet, with all our recent financial insecurities with our club in a precarious position placed into administration just 3 years ago it seems hard to believe the progress that has been made with our new owners. Very few would have thought, come the start of the 2012/13 season Crystal Palace would finish the season as a Premiership team.
The idea of “very few”, admittedly included myself and every other Palace fan. Enter Dougie Freedman, a Palace hero, who at the beginning of the season lost his first three league games; a miserable start following a miserable end to the previous season. It looked as if Palace would be fighting relegation for the Third successive season. Then something strange happened. Our defensive-minded negative tactics were transformed almost instantly into performances of, quite frankly, skilful and attractive football, with Wilfried Zaha and new signing Yannick Bolasie terrorising Championship defences, Glenn Murray beginning to find the feet through which he would eventually finish with 30 league goals, and our promotion prospects looking great after a prolonged 14 game unbeaten run.
Exit Dougie Freedman, a Palace villain, to be replaced by Ian Holloway. I among many was happy with our replacement. Holloway is charismatic and known for his attractive style of football. However our form soon dipped and quite frankly so did our automatic promotion prospects, and towards the end of the season we were almost out of the Play-offs completely. But we made it!
However, as a Palace fan you learn to expect the unexpected. Brighton in the Semi -finals was a daunting prospect. Brighton were heavily favoured as were Watford in the final. The feeling of beating your fiercest rivals away from home can only be felt by football fans, Newcastle 0-3 Sunderland anyone?
Enter our hero, Kevin Phillips. Without doubt, at 39 years old, there were doubts that Super Kev could still hack it. How wrong this assumption was. Kevin Phillips came in January and was a game changer. Whilst Glenn Murray was providing plenty on the goal front we had no real back-up options, with Jermaine Easter out of form and ineffective and Aaron Wilbraham, 33 and untested.
What we got with Kevin Phillips was a proven goal scorer. Even if he has lost that slight edge of sharpness over the years, one thing he has not lost is the ability to put the ball in the back of the net; 6 goals in 14 games (only two of which were starts).
Phillips is probably the most underrated English striker of the last decade and it is a great surprise he hasn’t received more international recognition. His goal in the Play-off final summarised his character and ability perfectly; a short run up, nerves of steel, straight into the top left hand corner with the utmost precision. I firmly believe had any other player taken that penalty we would have seen another outcome to that game.
And so Kevin Phillips writes his name into Palace folklore as he has done with Sunderland previously. Rumours of a one-year contract offered to Phillips means he could be in line for one last crack at the promised land, and who would put Phillips, at the tender age of 40, past making an impact in the Premiership one last time.
Ross on Ross:
I’m a lifelong Palace fan, Age 22,
Portsmouth University history graduate.
Enter the great Salut! Sunderland Two Million hits competition. Read about the first prize – £200 towards a holiday from Sunderland-based Hays Travel at https://safc.blog/2013/06/attention-safc-newcastle-middlesbrough-even-scarborough-supporters-2m-hits-competition-prize-announced/ BUT POST YOUR ENTRY IN THE COMMENTS SECTION ONLY AT https://safc.blog/2013/06/salut-sunderlands-two-million-hit-party-even-newcastle-are-invited/
See all Salut! Sunderland’s articles recalling May 5 1973 and the run that took SAFC to FA Cup glory: https://safc.blog/category/fa-cup/may-5-1973/