“They’ve already been beat 9-0 by Liverpool this season,
so it’s really a no brainer to choose,”
said the smug ex pro at Sky telly,
as he predicted the Palace to lose.
It was a sunny April afternoon,
in the year of our lord 1990,
and Palace needed,
all the help they could get,
even a few prayers up to — the almighty.
A place at Wembley awaited the victor,
and a chance to lift up the cup.
To raise it up high, in front of your fans,
and out of it champers to sup.
The Scousers were all Internationals,
big matches for them held no fear,
the bookies had them four to one favourites,
reckoning they’d win without changing gear.
The Palace were without four first teamers,
including the great Ian Wright,
so all the pundits predicted,
that they’d play it defensive and tight.
The Palace fans were packed in the Holte End,
and from it, came a deafening noise,
as they chanted the names of their heroes,
and tried to urge on the boys.
But around the twenty fifth minute,
the noise turned into a hush,
as Liverpool opened the scoring,
through the Welsh poacher they called Ian Rush.
” WE’RE ON THE MARCH WITH KENNY’S ARMY,
WE’RE ALL GOING TO WEMBER — LEEEE ”
sang the noisy and rapturous Liverpudlians,
as they joyously jumped around with glee.
One nil, was the score still at half time,
and the pundits — bar one — all agreed,
it was only a matter of time,
before Liverpool added onto their lead.
But Mark Bright upset the predictors,
scoring right at the start of the half,
and then Ian Rush was substituted,
cos of an injury he got to his calf.
The Eagles were now sensing blood,
they had the Pool back four on the run,
and Gary O’Reilly came up from the back,
to put Palace in front two to one.
But Liverpool players did not panic,
they still looked in control of the ball,
and the hustling Stevie Mc — Mahon,
equalized to make it two all.
A penalty — by the ref it was given,
a cause for much heated debate,
and John Barnes calmly placed it past Martyn,
to make Palace supporters irate.
“Looks like Liverpool are heading to Wembley”,
John Motson informed his home viewers,
as brave Palace scurried on forward,
like rats running down in the sewers.
” YOU’LL NEVER WALK ALONE,
WALK ON — WALK ON,
WITH HOPE IN YOUR HEARTS “,
was sung around the ground,
except in the Palace parts.
Then, with just three minutes remaining,
the ‘ WALK ON ‘ was interrupted,
and Palace fans at the other end,
A lapse in concentration,
and the Pool were made to pay,
as the ball was forced past Grobbelar,
by the nippy Andy Gray.
So extra time was needed,
to settle this thrilling semi,
and to see who’s going to Wembley,
Steve Coppell or King Kenny.
The game was now end to end,
although — much slower paced,
and Palace used the high ball,
and harried, fought and chased.
Then !!! — the moment came,
that is written in folklore,
when ‘Super Alan Pardew’
drove home the ball to score.
“QUE SERA, SERA
WHATEVER WILL BE — WILL BE,”
sang the hordes of Crystal Palace fans,
as they dreamt of Wember — lee.
The ref finally blew the whistle,
4-3 was the end result,
and ‘Super Alan Pardew’
became part of the Holmesdale cult.
The players ran to the Holte End,
surrounded by West Midland Police,
and a banner was raised on the terrace,
saying, “Thank You God, I Can Now Die In Peace.”
Palace fans they hugged one another,
grown men were wiping ‘way tears,
red and blue shirts were hurled onto the terrace,
as the players applauded the cheers.
The Palace theme song “Glad All Over”
vibrated around the vast ground,
as the disgruntled Koppites wandered off out,
too upset and stunned to make sound.
So Stevie Coppell’s red and blue army,
were bound for Wember — lee,
after one of the greatest semi finals,
anyone had the pleasure to see.
© John J O’Connor NYC March 4 2004