Palace Feel The Blues
Rachel Bayne gives us her thoughts on the Carling Cup semi final.
Being a football fan can only be described as the longest-running, scariest rollercoaster ride ever. Especially when you doggedly support your local side, which for me; is Crystal Palace.
Don’t laugh now, though I invariably get that response from people who support far wealthier clubs with prettier stadiums and illustrious trophy cabinets – I’m not that bad off. Think of poor old Plymouth languishing in League two….It’s just never been easy, especially when you face the Carling Cup Semi Finals and know that your team will never be predictable, ever.
But, that’s why I love them so much! Every game, you go in with a completely different prediction to what the scores end up and sometimes all the fans predict a loss (such as when we faced Man United)…and then Ambrose unwittingly pulls a stunner out of the bag and we win!!! So, when we were drawn Cardiff, most teams would say – “hey, we beat Man United, so this will be a walk in the park,” but for us, it’s more like: “oh dear, we’re going to lose….” And how true this turned out, annoyingly.
The 1st leg, at home, went well. Crystal Palace played better, we scored and although it was a paltry lead to take to Wales – we were 1-0 up and would have no threat of an away goal scare in Wales.
Then, after winning the 1st leg, I took the long train ride over the border to Wales. We came to the 2nd leg, our band of merry supporters, with no allusion of grandeur and no hope that we would win. Palace cheered all the way through the match, but as many columnists have said, we never allowed ourselves to dream of Wembley, that would be too much to handle.
Our lack of optimism saved us in a match where Cardiff hit the crossbar so many times; it could quite easily have been counted as Palace’s twelfth man. Gardner levelled the playing field with an own goal early on in Cardiff. From then on, the Welsh team looked and played far more positively, but lacked the final touch – a trait they will need to improve on quickly if they’re going to make any strides in the Premiership.
Nervously, Palace held on for what can only be described as a surprisingly long time. The Cardiff side began to show worried looks and their crowd resembled a very cold library, furiously gesticulating at the Londoners.
The match was even until the penalty shoot out. Perhaps the worst penalty shoot out I have been the victim of – Kenny Miller sliced the 1st over the bar, in what can only be described as an attempt at a drop goal (obviously confused and thought he was playing for the Cardiff Blues…) But, did Palace take their chances? The scene was laughable.
Cardiff won 3-1 and unfortunately, it was a dismal advert for the Championship.
So, Palace was denied a final, a chance in Europe. Last week saw a sad evening, though it must be mentioned that none were surprised at the outcome, and not for a lack of caring. I will always be an Eagle at heart, but more through an understanding of football. I will dream each season of a chance at the Premiership – but, for this year at least, there will be no Carling Cup for us.
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