Crystal Palace is a bit of an unknown club, well out of the way of the capitals “bright lights”. To let us in on the Deep South London football scene is Jim Daly of The Five Year Plan, a fanzine still up and running after 10 years. He was talking to our very own Guy Hannay-Wilson. Here’s the craic!
TF: After a very poor start to the season, 3 wins in the past 4 matches have lifted the Eagles off 20th place. What’s been behind the good results and enough to suggest Palace can survive this season?
Jim, FYP: Nothing much more than a bit of good old fashioned confidence. It’s the same group of players that were playing under Holloway but with Pulis at the helm now they suddenly look like they believe they can win games. There is more intensity, more passion – Chamakh was spotted chasing down a defender and winning the ball off him against Cardiff! – and there is a buzz about the place. Credit must go to Keith Millen for making Palace more compact, more organised and difficult to beat in the four games he took over as caretaker. He almost made Palace pre-Pulis in style.
TF: What do you think Tony Pulis can bring to CPFC after the very different management style of Ian Holloway?
Jim, FYP: That gritty self-belief will certainly raise standards on the pitch and effort. Pulis has appeared bullish in his press conferences so far this season, and that is spreading to the players during matches. He also has plenty of experience of fighting to keep a team in the top flight. That will be invaluable come April. He also wants the club to raise their standards off the pitch too and start acting like a Premier League club. This is massively important too.
TF: Where was Holloway going wrong? Was it his fault for the bad start to the season?
Jim, FYP: In short; yes. As much as I liked the bloke, he just wasn’t sure what he was doing tactically or player-wise. And once he started to doubt himself, so did the players. It’s a slippery slope and although at the time I was shocked, getting rid of him when they did was a master strike by Palace. Chairman Steve Parish must take – and has done – some responsibility too when it came to transfers, he admitted he was too involved, probably one of the reasons Iain Moody has been appointed as a Sporting Director – to oversee all transfers.
TF: Has the club prepared sufficiently for the Premiership? Is further transfer activity in January necessary or even possible?
Jim, FYP: No. Nowhere near enough. But then the club wasn’t really ready for promotion. It wasn’t part of the plan. Once the final whistle went at the playoff final in May the club started working on this season but they were already two weeks behind everyone else, and to be honest, didn’t really know what they were doing. Pulis’ arrival will help hugely with that and yes, there will be new faces in January. Particularly in defence.
TF: Who has impressed for you so far for Palace? Which players are critical for the club and who pose the most threat to NUFC?
Jim, FYP: Mile Jedinak was player of the year last season and continues to top the list for blocks and interceptions, but his passing is woeful. And if Newcastle play around him on the floor you will have success, but in the air he is rarely beaten. Joel Ward has been fantastic at right-back, both defensively and attacking, but the guy that has really impressed me is Barry Bannan. A cast-off from Villa, he’s settled into life at Selhurst brilliantly and is at the start of every good move Palace put together.
TF: CPFC were taken over by a 4 man consortium who took co-ownership in 2010. Is the club now on a better grounding since then? Would Palace face return to financial difficulties if relegated?
Jim, FYP: Nope, they are in the best financial state they’ve been for ages. The new owners are savvy businessmen and have invested that promotion money in the infrastructure of the club. They will not go down the route of former chairman and gamble the club’s future on staying up. It’s a long term project and things will be done the right way. Thank god! I can’t face another administration.
TF: Can you let us in on the Simon Jordan story? What is your opinion on him?
Jim, FYP: Oh god; where to start! An egotist, a megalomaniac and a bit of a knob, but a Palace fan at heart. He got everything wrong in terms of business but had the right intentions. he had terrible hair though, which we never forgot to mention in Five Year Plan fanzine – which probably resulted in us being banned from selling outside Selhurst! He nearly ran the club into the ground but at the crucial moment accepted a massive loss as the club’s biggest creditor with insolvency looming, and should be thanked for that.
TF: Crystal Palace is on the very edge of Greater London. Do you see yourselves as a London club? What makes Palaces support distinctive from say Millwall or Charlton?
Jim, FYP: *SOUTH* London club, and the biggest one there! (In terms of average support and league places historically). We are distinctive from Charlton fans in that we don’t all get club coaches from Kent to home games and distinctive from Millwall fans in that we have opposable thumbs.
TF: Can you explain the rivalry with Brighton? On the face of it, it looks a very strange one considering the geographical difference?
Jim, FYP: It stems back to the mid-1970s when the clubs faced each other five times in one season. There was some violence off the pitch which was not helped by Brighton boss Alan Mullery waving fivers at Palace fans and giving them the finger. He then – for some bizarre reason – became Palace manager a few years later. Actually, the rivalry isn’t so fierce now, and there is a charity called the Robert Eaton Memorial Fund that has an annual game between Palace and Brighton fans which has definitely brought the two clubs closer together. I play for the Eagles supporters; four goals in eight games. I thank you.
TF: Was the ground sharing with Charlton and Wimbledon back in the 1980s and 1990s detrimental to CPFC in any way?
Jim, FYP: It was before my time really, but I don’t think so. It was probably more detrimental to both Charlton and Wimbledon who now find themselves below Palace in the divisions.
TF: Palace never seems to settle in the Top tier. Where do you see CPFC in the natural scheme of things?
Jim, FYP: We are a second tier club but I felt like we could be at the start of a new chapter; enthusiastic young new owners at the helm, and a Premier League campaign that could fund the club for years to come. I’m hopeful.
TF: The Five Year Plan started in 2003 and you look to have developed along similar lines to true faith and others with Podcasts, Social Media as well as retaining the print edition. Where do fanzines go from here? Can you see the printed version remaining in 10 years’ time?
Jim, FYP: Oh man good question. I think there will always be a demand for printed fanzines, but you have to have all the rest of the online stuff too to keep people aware of what you’re doing. We try to cover all bases but make each one slightly different so you’re getting different experiences. Twitter is jokey for example, the podcast is more in depth, the fanzine is serious etc.. We have some amazing readers and listeners and they are the reason we are able to get stronger.
TF: What’s your opinion on NUFC so far this season? Which players do you see as the treat to CPFC on Saturday?
Jim, FYP: I’ve always liked Newcastle; they are like Palace but bigger; a club that never seems to reach its full potential but still has die-hard fans that turn out in force whatever is happening. You have some class players in there – particularly in midfield – and I suspect Yohan Cabaye to see A LOT of the ball.
TF: Score prediction and final place for both teams?
Jim, FYP: Palace will be really up for it, especially against a manager who *cough cough* wanted the Palace job. But Newcastle are in great form right now. Any slip ups from Palace will be punished. I reckon an entertaining 2-2 draw.