Crystal Palace fans woke up with sore heads yesterday morning but also safe in the knowledge that their club are in the Premier League.
The Eagles beat Watford 1-0 at Wembley in the play-off final after a Kevin Phillips penalty in extra-time.
Wilfried Zaha marked his final game for the club with a man-of-the-match performance in front of a crowd that included Jose Mourinho and Elton John.
Arriving in the capital en masse for what was dubbed “the $190 million game”, Palace fans dominated London’s pubs in the build-up to the game, congregating at Baker Street beforehand.
James Daly, editor of the Five Year Plan fanzine, said: “It was the perfect day really. I ended up in a Wetherspoons pub on Streatham High Street. Watford just never got into their stride at all. It means so much for the club. That money could really change things.It was an amazing day…just to see all those Palace fans in London was brilliant. There was only one team that looked like they wanted it…and that was Palace. It must be up there with anything we’ve achieved because it’s so important.”
Some fans were still trying to process the triumph. Andy Palmer, 42, who is staying with his mum in Purley but lives in Sydney, Australia, only managed to pay for his trip over after winning the lottery.
Andy said: “I was looking at the plane tickets online and thinking there was no way I could afford to come over. But then my work syndicate won the lottery and paid me out two and a half grand. I think someone was telling me I better go to Wembley!”
He added: “I can’t believe we won…I can’t believe we are a Premier League team…it’s just incredible.”
It will be no easy ride for the South Londoners when they play in the Premiership next season. If they finish fourth from bottom next year, it will be a successful season. They will obviously be one of the favourites to be relegated next year.
But, as every fan knows…’ Crystal Palace don’t do mid-table medicrocy’.
by Terence Johns