Crystal Palace played local rivals and legendary nutters Millwall on Saturday, and lost by a goal to nil, leaving us second from bottom of the Championship. So why did the game leave me in a good mood? I think there are three reasons:
- There was a really good atmosphere, despite the segregation of the away fans in a heavily police-protected area of the Arthur Wait stand. Whole sections either side of the Millwall supporters were deliberately kept empty so as to provide a buffer between them and the home fans, and although somebody let off a smoke bomb at kick-off and a bunch of the fans swarmed one of the empty sections, we didn’t see any real trouble. Since we were accompanied by elegant American friends for whom sport is something that’s mainly meant to be fun, this was excellent.
- We had great seats – five rows back in the Main stand, close to the players’ tunnel and mere feet from the action. We only had one opportunity to catch the ball when it came out of play, but it was still exciting. And the three most notable incidents of the game (a goal, a sending off and the removal of a Millwall fan who had infiltrated the home supporters’ end) all happened in our corner of the pitch.
- All of our players are about seventeen, and although we lost the game, we looked the better side for long stretches of it. There’s plenty of surprises left in this season, and as Yazz once memorably said, the only way is up.*
* May not be strictly true.