Palace are a club enriched by their following, whether near or far. Here Oliver Nodwell tells us about his experience supporting Palace from the far reaches of Scotland.
I can recall the amount of visits to Selhurst I’ve made -- it wouldn’t be too many to count. Originally from the south but spending a fair chunk of my adult days split between the Midlands, Australia, New Zealand, Scotland and on top of that working unsociable hours, I’ve just never managed to make much time. But maybe I have all my priorities wrong.
Split shifts. Chef life. Its 2.52 pm. I rush to the car through the pissing rain and gale force wind. Start the engine and tune in to Radio 5 Live. There’s a faint signal, fading in and out, Mark Chapman’s voice half scrambled. I don’t know why I even bother, no chance its Palace, it will no doubt be a Man United or Chelsea game being transmitted. I’ll have to settle for intermittent score updates amidst all the other matches.
3.04 pm, I arrive back at the house after a twelve minute race through the winding and mountainous A838, overtaking campervan after campervan of tourists from all over the world, tourists who for some reason find it acceptable to drive at 20 in a 60 or just stop right in the middle of the road, on a bend to take a photograph. Tourists who come to see one of the most beautiful parts of the planet. The Scottish Highlands.
I tune into a stream online, Radio London, and I sit and listen for the entirety of the game, screaming and shouting at my speaker. In my head, I’m there, at Selhurst or the away stand of whichever ground we’re at that week. In real life, there's a short fat bloke wearing chef whites, sitting in a cottage, eagles soaring overhead, surrounded by countless lochs, mountains and fields on the northwest coast of Scotland.
I’m a twelve and half hour drive away. I’m closer to Oslo than I am to London. I sure as hell can’t supplement cravings with trips to Dingwall to see Ross County.
I suppose the reason i’m writing this is to ask that question, can you be a real Palace (or any club) fan if you don’t often go to games, if you live too far away, or even if you are completely priced out of the live experience due to income and personal circumstance?
To me, its a daily priority to check up on what’s happening with Palace. I visit the club site and social media, endless twitter morons twatting on. I love it.
I watch pre match interviews, post match interviews, even the boring clips of training and players saying “obviously like, the gaffer like, chose me really, so obviously, ill give 100% and hope we come out on top, like, really”. Nonsense, right? But i get a kick out of it for some reason.
But to go to a game is going to cost me a week's wages, at least. It’s just not feasible. I try and do one game a year. I love football, it excites me, to put it plainly. I have tickets to the next away game, not the most glamourous outing but I can’t wait and every time I recall that I’m going or that its a few days closer I get a wee boost. It’s a bit like a upscaled version of when you remember you have a cup of tea that you forgot about.
There are a lot of different ways to support your club from afar. I am not, by the way, claiming I am the most distant Palace fan on the earth, I’m sure there are more further away who travel to many more games. I believe I can do a lot better in terms of attendance and I will. Of course it’s possible to be and remain a loyal supporter wherever you are in the World.It makes those rare trips to see the team even more of a pleasure. It’s particularly a pleasure with Crystal Palace. For some reason, everyone has a soft spot for us. I am always proud to say I am a Palace fan.
Having now moved back to a city more connected to modern life than the remote Scottish Highlands, I’ve promised myself I’ll attend more games, home and away. And on Saturday I’ll be racing down the M6, replacing the beaches, lochs and flocks of Scottish sheep with retail parks, service stations and flocks of English sheep. I’ll be excited and nervous no doubt, but that’s nothing out of the ordinary. If I feel the same as I do when I’m screaming at my radio, I can safely say, as a Palace fan, I’m doing alright. Next stop, Hudderfield.
Mon’ the Palace!