Remember the ‘Team of the 80’s’? No, not Liverpool. According to a quote credited to Jimmy Greaves in the late 70’s, that team would be Crystal Palace. What did the former Spurs and England goal-poacher extraordinaire base this bold prediction on?
Chirpy cockney Terry Venables took over the reins at Selhurst Park from ‘Big’ Malcolm Allison and proceeded to put together a talented young side that topped the old Second Division table in 1978-79, earning promotion back to the big time. And with this promising group, the south Londoners had the potential to challenge the big boys for a decade to come.
The Eagles had, like so many clubs at the time, been wearing Admiral, who had jazzed up kit design to mirror the flashy disco era. At the start of the 1980’s – and the beginning of the apparent halcyon days which would follow – Palace switched to Adidas but kept the classic all-white with the red and blue sash that they’d been sporting since 1976.
Sadly for Palace, the early 80’s didn’t pan out as well as they’d hoped as the likes of Kenny Sansom, Clive Allen, Terry Fenwick and John Burridge all moved on as the ‘Team of the 80’s’ were quickly disbanded.
Venables also swiftly departed for QPR, leaving the way open for Allison to return in 1980. He lasted just 55 days before leaving when notorious chairman Ron Noades took over the club. Dario Gradi, Steve Kember and Alan Mullery would all take their turns in the hot seat before the end of 1983.
Palace finished the 1980-81 season adrift at the foot of Division One and remained in Division Two for the follwoing eight seasons, making a mockery of their exhalted tag as ‘Team of the 80’s’.
It’s a funny old game eh, Greavsie? Sorry, I know I shouldn’t have.
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