The Sound of Football: Crystal Palace (Andrew)

Every fortnight we cover the best and worst football songs from every club in the UK from our book ‘The Sound Of Football: Every Club, Every Song’. You can buy it here

Crystal Palace

Nickname: The Eagles

Ground: Selhurst Park

Stadium Capacity: 26,309

Song: Glad All Over

In 1851, George Jennings invented the public toilet. Unfortunately, the toilets were found in the Crystal Palace exhibition hall. It was called Crystal Palace because it was made out of glass. And, you would think, it would be the last place you would have a toilet as it had clear walls and ceilings. This led to the short-lived proverb: ‘folk in glass houses should not throw stones… or go to the toilet’. More accurately, it also led to the phrase ‘spend a penny’ as George Jennings charged a penny to use the facilities.

Although the hall was originally built in Hyde Park to house the Great Exhibition of 1851, it was moved to Sydenham in south London after the exhibition finished, an area which then became known as Crystal Palace. In 1905 workers at the hall formed a football team and named it Crystal Palace.

The exhibition hall, the area and the football club share more than just a name. Both club and hall suffered from financial difficulties.

In 2010, Crystal Palace went into administration. In the 1850s, the company that built the original hall also failed to pay its debts. It had made a fundamental mistake. Most people worked six days a week with only Sundays off. The hall was only open six days a week, and it closed on a Sunday. Even a candidate on The Apprentice can spot the flaw in this business model. Most people could not visit without taking time off work, and when they did, it was pounds, not pennies the builders needed.

Unusually, Palace’s great rival is not a London side but one that is over 40 miles away – Brighton.

The rivalry with Brighton had simmered for several years but ‘officially’ started in 1974 when Palace was in the third division. Both sides had many away supporters, regularly taking 12,000 to each other’s grounds.

An FA Cup match saw the rivalry boil over after Brighton was awarded a penalty. Brighton scored, but the referee ordered it retaken as a Palace player had crept into the box. The second penalty was missed, and Palace went on to win 1 – 0.

Alan Mullery, the Brighton manager, was enraged and, as he marched off the pitch, he encountered trouble in the tunnel.

As I was walking up the tunnel,” he told The Guardian, “a load of boiling hot coffee was thrown over me by a Crystal Palace supporter. So I pulled a handful of change out of my pocket, threw it on the floor and shouted, ‘That’s all you’re worth, Crystal Palace.’” 

Mullery added further insults, and gestures involving his fingers, before storming into the Palace dressing room to confront his old Tottenham Hotspur teammate and then Crystal Palace manager, Terry Venables. It was reported that Mullery threw a fiver on the floor and told El Tel he wouldn’t pay that much for the entire Palace team, which was true if 36 years too early. In 2010, following administration, he could have picked the whole team up for nothing.

Crystal Palace adopted the Dave Clark Five song ‘Glad All Over’ as its anthem in the 1960s. It was released in November of 1963, and it got the group their first-ever number one in January the following year.

Unlike other football songs, the transition from chart to terraces was instant. Usually, it can take several years before a song is widely accepted as tradition, but in the case of ‘Glad All Over’, it had easily caught on within the year and was a matchday tradition by the end of the decade. Since then, the song has been sung before, during and after matches (providing Palace win). 

Perhaps part of its success in crossing over was how the Dave Clark Five wrote and recorded their songs. Their live shows were famous for audience participation, usually led by Dave Clark ‘conducting’ the crowd and getting them to stomp their feet in time to his drumming. Dave Clark has said: “I’d pay somebody 5 Pounds to go switch all the lights on and off in the ballroom, in time with the stomps. That’s what gave [us] the idea for ‘Glad All Over,'” whose chorus featured a “boom boom… Glad all over!” chorus. 

The song’s link to the club was reinforced in 1990 when it was recorded by the squad and released for the club, reaching the FA Cup final. Unfortunately, Palace lost the final after the match was replayed following a 3 – 3 draw at the first attempt.

The song has been adopted by Blackpool and other English Football League teams such as Rotherham United, Port Vale and Swindon Town.

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