‘Twas the night before Cardiff

Written about Palace’s play-off final game against West Ham in 2004, it appeared in the one-off resurrection issue of legendary fanzine ‘Eagle Eye’ in February 2005.  Clement Clarke Moore may have provided some inspiration.

‘Twas the night before Cardiff, when all through the club
Not a person was stirring, they were all at the pub;
The scarves were hung by the chimney while pints were quaffed,
In hopes that they would soon be held triumphantly aloft;
The supporters were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of the Premiership danced in their heads;

And the missus in her away strip, and I in my home,
Had just settled down for a bit of hide the bone,
When out in the stadium there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new Main Stand roof
Allowed me to see and verify with proof,
When, what to my wondering eyes should come from the haze,
But a team bus, and eleven focused players,
With a hulk of a driver, so loquacious and, zowieee!!!,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Dowie.

As rapid as Eagles his disciples they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;
“Now, Danny! now, Shipps! now, AJ and Tony!
On, Nico! on Hughesie!, on, Wayne and Aki!
To the edge of the area! Form that wall!
Hold the line! Hoof it! Clear away the ball!”

As that song goes about bubbles that fly,
Where like hopes they fade as they reach the sky,
So up to the house-top the players they flew,
With the bus full of dreams, and St. Iain too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard the roof thud
The clatter and thump of each player’s stud.
As I kissed the club crest, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Iain came with a bound.

He was dressed all in Palace gear, accepting the cheers,
And his clothes were all tarnished with blood, sweat and tears;
A bundle of promises he held in his hand,
Saying heading for the Premiership – the promised land.

His eyes – how they twinkled! his gurning how merry!
He had a replacement for Julian, he was going to play Derry!
His crooked smile mouth was making a sound,
He was saying it was time for one more round;
The ghost of Sunderland’s hopes he held so tightly,
Thanks mainly to that penalty miss from Jeff Whitely;

He had an interesting face and a mind of steel,
That ensnared the opposition and made me feel,
That anything was possible and he calmed my fears,
And lifted the gloom of following Palace for years;

A gruelling training schedule and a good choice of sub,
Soon gave me the belief that we were going up;
He spoke of Harbin and Symons as he went about his work,
Writing his programme notes; then turned with a jerk,
And raising his hand he gave me the clenched fist,
And I swear this is true (even though I was pissed);

He sprang to his bus, and his team all piled on,
And away to Cardiff they all flew with the hopes of South London.
But I heard him exclaim, as he left the facility,
“We’ll do them tomorrow with bouncebackability.”