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West Ham United v Crystal Palace

Filed: Friday, 24th February 2012
By: Preview Percy

The population of Croydon is 330,587 or thereabouts. In his even more than usually warped look at this weekend's visit of Crystal Palace to the Boleyn, Preview Percy does his best to upset each and every one of them. Please direct all complaints direct to Percy c/o the Avram Grant Rest Home For The Bewildered. Sensible stuff on the stat front as ever from John Northcutt

Next we entertain Crystal Palace at the brain-numbing hour of 12.45pm this Saturday, the early kick-off being due once more to the fact that we are to appear on the televisual box apparatus thing. Travel news is that, whilst the usual direct links to Upton Park on the District & Hammersmith & City lines will be operating normally, the Central Line will be closed twixt Liverpool Street & Woodford/Newbury Park so if your journey involves Stratford you may need to have a rethink. As ever check before you leave – which, with the early kick-off, should probably be about now to be on the safe side.

At present our opponents this weekend lie in 13th spot with 43 points from 31 matches. That’s well safe from the danger zone – even more so since Pompey’s points deduction, the sole effect of which will probably be to save Millwall from relegation. It’s an ill wind as they say. Looking upwards they’re 17 points behind us and, perhaps slightly more realistically, 10 points behind Middlesbrough who currently sit in the last of the play-off places.

The highlight of their season was a win up at Old Trafford in the League Cup en route to a semi-final against Cardiff City. Palace won the first leg of the semi 1-0 at Selhurst Park, a ground that makes this rest home look well appointed. However, the win slightly flattered the home side with the Welshmen having a perfectly good goal ruled out in the second half for no obviously good reason. Palace’s goalscorer in the first leg was Anthony Gardner. Gardner was also the difference between the sides in the second leg, though this was due to his own goal giving Cardiff a 1-0 win after extra time, which led to a penalty shoot out in which the Taffies prevailed.

Their current form is not overly inspiring, though they are unbeaten in their last four in the league. If you do the pools you could do worse than pick the Glaziers with them having won one, drawn four and lost one of their last six. The victory came last weekend courtesy of a 4-0 trouncing of Watford. The four draws came away at Bristol City where they led 2-0 with 13 minutes left, away at Boro’ (0-0), and at home to Brighton & Leeds (both 1-1). The defeat came up at Blackpool where they went down 2-1 – despite being 1-0 up with five minutes to play. It seems they may share the vulnerability to late goals that we’ve displayed from time to time this season.

It was a quietish transfer window for them this time round. Their main focus was more on retention than recruitment (a concept with which we have been all too familiar ourselves in the not too distant past). Principal target was teenage winger Willfried (great old fashioned name for a footballer that) Zaha, for whom Bolton Wanderers offered a reported £7m just before the deadline. The response from Croydon was that the respective clubs’ valuation was “miles apart”, especially with the player having signed a new contract just before Christmas.

Zaha scored the opener in the recent 4-0 trouncing of Watford – the BBC put it “the teenager opened the scoring after Easter” which, given that we’re still in February, must have meant a hell of a lot of stoppage time. Sadly for my warped sense of humour, when the matron reloaded the page for me on my laptop (for once not a euphemism) the sentence was completed with the words “did well down the right” thus ruining the Pythonesque idea of a referee giving up blowing the final whistle for lent that was going through my head.

Whilst Bolton failed to pick open the lock on the “Out” door, Palace scarcely bothered the rust on the “In” door either. A couple of youngsters were enticed away from the bright lights of Dulwich Hamlet (Michael Chambers) and Margate (Kwesi Appiah) but presumably these signings are looked on as future investments. More significantly there were extensions to the loan of Paul McShane from Hull and of Chris Martin from Norwich. Both loans will now expire at the end of the season, with Martin presumably taking time out from knocking out albums of increasingly variable quality with Coldplay and offspring of increasingly strange names with Gwyneth Paltrow. Since arriving from the land of Alan Partridge and mustard back in November, Martin has picked up five goals, two of which came in the aforementioned Watford match. The most impressive statistic I can find though is the fact that he is banned from a total of 68 Suffolk pubs following a scrap back in 2008. No wonder he was so happy to leave East Anglia on loan – after all what else is there to do in Suffolk?

The aforementioned Easter is just one of an ever-increasing number of players called “Jermaine/Jermain” in professional football these days. Clearly many parents have a statement to make along the lines of “we really like the Jacksons but not the really nutty one”. We didn’t have this problem when Victor Sylvester ruled the airwaves on the Light Programme. Meanwhile, Easter has overcome the handicap of not having a proper footballer name to net five times in 29 appearances this season, though it should be noted that Chris (good old fashioned name there) Martin has as many goals from roughly half the appearances since his arrival on loan. Easter was one of three Palace players to miss in the penalty shoot-out at Cardiff in the League Cup semi-final last month. As a Cardiff lad he might have at least been slightly pleased at their qualification for the final. However, he did play for Swansea at one stage of his career, something that might induce confusion in the most hardy of souls, let alone a Welshman.

The other goal at Watford the other night was scored by Kagisho Dikgachoi. The South African midfielder has one of those superb middle names that we like to highlight in these columns from time to time. In an almost “Inspector Morse” style his parents have ensured that the name Kagisho Evidence Dikgachoi will for evermore stare up from underneath his passport photo. Presumably the lad is “Evidence” of the fact that his parents ever met, though if there is a more accurate explanation for the name I’d love to hear it just out of curiosity. Dikgachoi once received a red card at the Boleyn for slapping Scott Parker in the face in a match that we drew 2-2 against Fulham. We totally failed to capitalise on the extra man that day, something that seems a little bit more understandable in the light of recent matches (even if our extra man that day was Jiminez). Intriguingly, Dikgachoi started his pro career at a club called Bloemfontein Young Tigers, which seems a daft name for a South African club given that tigers are indigenous to Asia rather than Africa. (I’ll get round to investigating Leeds Rhinos another day).

Alongside Zaha, the other young prospect for whom great things are hoped (ie a bumper transfer fee one day) is Sean Scannell. He’s blagged a few caps for the Republic of Ireland at various age groups and at the increasingly rare “B” level. He’s a bit raw from time to time – his inexperience sometimes lets him down when deciding whether to keep the ball or lay it off. However, there’s enough about him to suggest that he may be a threat – probably more so from the bench than as part of the starting XI maybe.

They may be boosted in defence by the return of Auf Wiedersehen Pet’s Dean Moxey who could be back after three months out with a knee injury and in no way a conviction for arson. He was said to be close to a return against Watford but in the end didn’t actually make the sixteen.

And so to us. Well I’ve kind of gotten used in recent weeks to the unusual tactic of us playing with ten men but whilst, despite my advancing years, I’m not adverse to tactical innovation, I’m old fashioned enough to prefer one of those ten to be a goalkeeper. Yeah I know I’m just a stick in the mud. There were a number of pleasing factors about the win on Tuesday – even allowing for the rather bonkers second half. In the realm of team selection I was pleasantly surprised to see young Maynard given a start. The temptation to use Cole as a lone striker in a more defensive line-up must have been there but sticking Maynard on from the start was a pleasing sign of attacking intent. The fact that we went to a club unbeaten in the league this year with such positive intent was a most welcome change from some of our away fixtures this season which have all been about “respecting the point”. The fact that such intent was so well-rewarded will hopefully not be lost on the team in future weeks.

Team news is that we will be bolstered by the news that Rob Green will be available for this one, his red card having been rescinded by the powers that be during the week. He’s also notably back in the England squad just as Capello disappears over the hill with his tapir. Funny that. Back to the bench with you then Henri – and would you mind awfully putting this claret & blue shirt on rather than that grey thing you’ve been dressing up in all week.

A slight worry is the news that both Faye & Tomkins face fitness tests. Nolan enters the third match of his three match ban whilst Taylor is in the second of his three. Otherwise we have a full embarrassment of riches from which to select. Minus Demel (obviously) and plus Piquionne and Carew.

Confidence must be sky high at the moment, the manner of Tuesday’s demolition of Blackpool being one that will stick in the mind for quite some time. Palace will be a trickier nut to crack I suspect – Blackpool didn’t have any idea how to cope with our current unusual tactical ploy of playing one of our players back in the changing rooms. However, we may just surprise them by keeping all eleven on the pitch. Well it’s bound to happen sooner or later.

So for the prediction I shall elect for a 3-1 home win, a result that would put us four clear at the top for a few hours or so (at least) thanks to the middle of the night kick-off time.
Enjoy the game!

When Last We Met: Drew 2-2 Goals from Nolan and Carew cancelled out efforts from Ambrose and Murray. Carlos Tevez had a “he wants to come home chant” sung by the away support amidst rumours of a return to the Boleyn following his dispute with his employers. And it was hot – over 80 degrees which, for 1 October wasn’t half bad.

Referee: Graham Salisbury Last seen in control of our 4-1 victory up at Nottingham Forest. Can’t remember much about that one so I presume he was ok.

Danger Man: Wilfried Zaha a bit of a tricky cove who, like his team mate Sean Scannell can have good and bad days.

Daft fact of the week: Ok it’s well documented that I cannot stand Croydon and its environs mainly due to the fact that it is the hole of origin from which the former Mrs Preview Percy crawled. My campaign to have the whole borough razed to the ground and replaced by something nicer like a rubbish tip or nuclear waste facility (a campaign which got off to such a good start last August) has therefore been dismissed by the planning people as the deranged ramblings of a madman (though to be fair to them they never met the ex-missus).

However, it's only fair to say that Croydon does seem to have played host to more than its fair share of really irritating people and things.
The next time you hear “Streets of bloody London” played and sung tunelessly by a busker as you make your way home by tube, remember that Ralph McTell who wrote the bloody thing came from Croydon.

Terry & June – the terminally unfunny 1970’s tv sitcom (oh crikey it’s the vicar – again) was set there.

The Brit School, that churns out lots of very irritating so-called “pop” so-called “stars” is there.

Nigel Reo-Coker was from there.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge had to take so much opium to get through living there that he became addicted, something that led to constipation requiring frequent “humiliating enemas” (as opposed to those ones you have that enable you to retain your full dignity I suppose).

Finally, if Carlton Cole misses a sitter at any stage between now and the end of the season just remember where his home town is.

Stat man John: Northcutt's corner

Away Friendlies

Aug 1964 1-4 Sissons
Aug 1965 2-1 Hurst 2
July 1968 4-2 Hurst 2 Redknapp Dear
Jan 1985 2-1 Dickens, Cottee
Aug 1985 1-2 Campbell
July 2005 1-0 Etherington

Home Testimonials

Alan Devonshire

Aug 1989 3-1 Ward, McAvennie, Devonshire

Paul Hilton

May 1991 3-2 McAvennie, Kula, Hilton

They Played For Both

Clive Allen, George Andrew, Dave Bickles, Johnny Byrne, Ron Brett, Paul Brush, John Cartwright, Trevor Dawkins, Iain Dowie, Harry Gunning
Michael Hughes, Derek Jackman, Jobi McAnuff, Hayden Mullins, Fred Norris, Anton Otulakowski, Chris Powell, Darren Powell, Eddie Presland, Malcolm Pyke, Bill Roberts, Neil Ruddock, Freddie Sears, Dave Sexton, Peter Simpson, Andy Smillie, Alan Stephenson, Perry Suckling, Dave Swindlehurst, Jimmy Wood.

Our club skipper Malcolm Allison was the Palace manager for two spells, 1972 to 1976 and 1980-81.

Iain Dowie managed them for the period 2003 to 2006.

Jack Tresader who played for the Hammers in the 1923 F A Cup Final was also the Palace manager from 1930 until 1935.

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.

Your Comments

by Steve
10:47AM 25th Feb 2012
''Very amusing, thanks. I always try and read this post.''

by milne
11:10PM 24th Feb 2012
''OK - Some good wit re: Croydon - but dont over do it as your "men at the top" seem quite keen to move you out of your manor. All that glitters is not GOLD you know!''

by Peter Ryan
07:52PM 24th Feb 2012
''Dear Preview,

I have to say that this was the most entertaining and knowledgeable pre-match thingy I have read, excellent stuff. It's a pity you will have to eat your many words when WHU are trounced 1-0 by Palace!''

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