R.I.P. Malcolm Allison

A short excerpt from my upcoming memoir, Boy About Town, this part about following Crystal Palace FC:

The first year I started going to the Palace on my own, the team was relegated to the Second Division. The next year, they were relegated to the Third. The thought of switching allegiance to another, better team, never occurred to me. If anything, my devotion only increased, in part because the club acquired a new manager, the flash Malcolm Allison, who opted for a completely clean slate. Out went the old colours of claret and light blue; in came bold red and blue stripes stolen right off the shirts of Barcelona. Out went the Victorian-era nickname the Glaziers; in came the high-flying Eagles. Out went most of the old team, including the beloved veteran goalkeeper John Jackson; in came a number of cocky local teenagers with names like Swindlehurst and Hinshelwood. And out went the image of Palace as a dowdy old place where ageing stars from greater teams were put out to pasture, and in came its reputation as a youthful club where anything might happen – and frequently did, including the brief introduction of American style cheerleaders on the pitch and the regular appearance of the Sun’s page 3 model Fiona Richmond in the players’ bath (and the following day’s newspaper). Palace may not have been much good on the football field, but they were suddenly amongst the most entertaining clubs in the league. Who would want to follow anyone else?

Indeed, who would? They don’t make them like Malcolm Allison any more. Thanks for everything you did for Crystal Palace – and for football in general. I’m sure the Man City fans feel the same way.

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September 2021