'They all wore shinpads in training' - Darren Ambrose on why the 2010 Palace team was so special

Written by FYP Fanzine


Crystal Palace legend Darren Ambrose joined us on the FYP Podcast recently to chat about his time in SE25, which let's face it although was just three years was jam packed with drama.

From why he chose to join Palace from Charlton, to stories about Neil Warnock cutting his toenails to those massive games at Hillsborough and Old Trafford, Darren covered it all in an hour-long episode.

On arriving at Selhurst on a free transfer from the Addicks, Ambrose told FYP he was immediately struck with how seriously that group of players took the game back in 2009

"They all wore shinpads in training, that's what kind of guys they were," he told us. "So immediately I put my shinpads on thinking we're in for a fricking rough ride here. 

"We stopped off once on the way to a game in a park, Paul Hart was manager, there's puddles, mud everywhere and there was no moaning. Every club I've been at you'd get the superstars saying "You're taking the p here, I'm not getting out and training in a park" these guys were 100% whatever we do, diving in mud, that's what we're going to do. If you say fricking swim in the lakes, we're going do it. 

"So I had to change my whole mindset and become that kind of guy and I took that on going forward and tried to help the youngsters coming through when I became the real senior role."

That mindset, Ambrose added, stuck around at the club for years and there are still remnants of it at Palace now, but admitted that he had to adapt his appraoch when he arrived despite having played at the very top a few years before.

He added: "If I'm honest I was an ego when I first arrived, I'd played Champions League for Newcastle and I felt a bit not that I'm dropping a level but immediately it was just nipped in the bud, and they all took to me like I was a nobody and that's how you have to be. There's no big egos. It was to do with Warnock 100% but the team took it on themselves, I think Paul Hart said it, I've heard him say it before, when he first arrived he didn't even have to do team talks and that's true.

"We would take it on ourselves and know exactly what we expect off on another. Edgar Davids came in a bit later, he didn't last long because he didn't change his mindset which was still in the team there even though a few had left. He was an ego and so he should be he was a world superstar but he didn't last long because of that." 

LISTEN: FYP Podcast 300 - Palace legend Shaun Derry joins the pod

Ambrose had loads of praise for former Palace captain Shaun Derry - who also joined us on the FYP Podcast last year - and revealed why Derry was one of his most important mentors in the game.

"The way he portrayed himself as a guy, he was the captain when I fist arrived and he just took every problem every team issue of the team, of the manager on himself. One of the hardest working guys I knew, always in the gym, always first in last out, he was always taking people's problems to the manager.

"Paul Hart came in and was going to drop me. He only took 12 or 13 games at the end of the season but after two or three was going to drop me and it was only Shaun who pulled me aside and said: "Look, the manager has spoken to me, he doesn't feel you will play for him as well as you played for Neil Warnock." I thought 'well I've not been rubbish, I've just had a couple of average games and I didn't score in the first three games he was here'.

"But Shaun said: 'I have told him if you drop Ambrose you will have uproar from players, from fans from everyone and he said I've told him that this guy will keep us in the division'. And he said to me: 'So don't let me down'.

"I was crapping myself thinking right I need to start scoring now. Because he's put all this faith into me."

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Ambrose namechecked Derry as one of the most influencial people on his career in footbal and when asked why said: "He wouldn't care what age you were he's help the youngsters, he's help the senior pros and he just demanded everyone give 110% and he just optimised everything Crystal Palace was good at that era. Everyone joined him, Clint, Butts Paddy, Dannsy, Big Alan Lee, everyone was on that mindset and from that moment dot when I first arrived.

"I was a bit cocksure of myself, I'd come from Newcastle, Charlton, played Premier League, I knew I've got to stop being this way, I've got to put 100% intro training, into matches.

"I love that group of players, it's the best group I've ever played for, it's why Palace is so close to my heart. We had our rows, absolutely, me and Paddy we rowed all the time, we nearly had a fight on the pitch at Birmingham away but the love I have for that guy now is second to none, and that football club, that team there was absolutely brilliant."

Listen to the full podcast with Darren Ambrose on joining Palace, Hillsborough, that goal at Old Trafford and loads more below: