Crystal Palace Football Club was formed on September 10, 1905. The London based club started play in the Southern Football League and have played at every level of professional soccer in England over their 108 year history. During the course of their history, the Eagles have also run across some pretty bizarre moments and we take a look at the top 5.
Number 5 – Edgar Davids Signs for Eagles
Edgar Davids is one of the all-time great defensive midfielders. The Dutch international was instantly recognizable with his dreadlocks, protective goggles and hard tackles. After a 2-year retirement, Davids surprised fans and pundits by announcing he was coming out of retirement in 2010 and then went on to shock them even more by saying he was heading to South London on a pay-as-you-play deal with Palace. Palace was a Championship side at the time which made the move even more bizarre since rumors circulating had Premier League side Wigan also interested in his signature.
The marriage did not last long, however. After making only 6 appearances, Davids announced his retirement saying, ‘Today I have decided that my journey as a player of Crystal Palace FC has come to an end’ and going on to add playing at Palace was ‘one of the greatest experiences of my life.’
Number 4 – Attilio Lombardo Named Player Coach
Attilio Lombardo is an all-time fan favorite as a player, he was named to the team’s Centenary XI side, and even had a song dedicated to him by the supporters.
JUST ONE LOMBARDO,
GIVE HIM TO ME,
HE’S FROM JUVENTUS,
HE’S GOT NO HAIR,
BUT WE DON’T CARE,
WE’VE GOT LOMBARDO,
(Sung to the tune of “O Sole Mio”)
But Lombardo was also part of a bizarre moment for the club when he was appointed player/manager in March of 1998. The player/manager position was not all that uncommon at the time. What made the appointment so strange was that former manager Steve Coppell, who was in his 3rd spell with the club, was kept on as the Director of Football and even odder was that the team’s Swedish striker Tomas Brolin was made Lombardo’s assistant although some claim he was only an interpreter since he was fluent in both English and Italian.
Lombardo’s appointment was short lived as he was relieved of his coaching responsibilities in April of 1998. It was arguably not due to his management skill but the lack of his playing skills. The Eagles were in 10th place when Lombardo was injured while playing for the Italian national team. A call-up he earned due to his form with Palace. When Lombardo was ready to return the team had dropped to 19th place and their relegation fate was sealed.
Lombardo stayed on in a player only capacity the following season under new manager Terry Venables but left in January 1999 to see out his career in Italy.
Number 3 – Ade Akinbiyi Signs with Palace
Crystal Palace had high hopes when they signed Ade Akinbiyi in February 2002. The Nigerian international had not lived up to expectations or his £5m transfer fee at Leicester but Palace thought they could polish the grit away from the gem and at a steal of only £2.2m
So much for high hopes. Akinbiyi only managed 3 goals in 24 appearances before being shipped out to Stoke City on loan.
Taking a chance on a player is not so strange but the fact that Akinbiyi thought he was a #10 and the lengths he was willing to go to get that number was bizarre. With the #10 already accounted for, Akinbiyi opted for the #55 and included a small ‘+’ mark between the two numbers. (More stories on bizarre jersey numbers)
Number 2 – Ian Wright Transfer Fee
If the transfer of Akinbiyi was a flop, then the signing of Ian Wright was a moment of genius, if not a little bizarre. Wright scored 90 goals for Palace and after 6 seasons was sold to Arsenal for £2.5m, a record fee for the club at the time, where he went on to score 128 goals for the Gunners.
But a good purchases doesn’t make this so bizarre but how Palace signed the forward.
Wright was a plasterer playing for Greenwich Borough when Palace’s Coppell saw him playing and decided to sign the player. The transfer fee…a set of weights for the Greenwich Borough training room. Possibly even more bizarre, Wright told his new manager on his first day of training that he wanted to play with England one day.
Number 1 – Cantona Karate Kick
Heckling the opposing players has always been a part of the game but Palace fan Matthew Simmons was in for a rude awakening on January 25, 1995 when he decided to run down 11 rows to heckle Manchester United’s Eric Cantona as he was walking from the field after being red carded for his kick to defender Richard Shaw.
Cantona, known for his fiery temper, was not amused and launched a flying karate-chop kick to Simmons’ chest before added a couple of punches.
The French international originally was sentenced to 2-weeks in prison but this was reduced to community service. At the press conference afterwards, it got only more bizarre as Cantona left the media buzzing with his comment; “When the seagulls follow the trawler, it’s because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea. Thank you very much.”
Cantona was banned 9-months from football for the incident.
Are you a Crystal Palace fan? What are some of your bizarre moments in club history?