Colour and Noise
The special atmosphere at Selhurst Park.
The matchday in England is an incredible experience, where the excitement builds from arriving at the ground, going through the turnstiles and walking up the steps and seeing the stadium around you. The talent, teamwork and creativity on the pitch together with the extraordinary atmosphere that we all contribute to can make it a memorable occasion.
It is the atmosphere that can often help the team to go that extra mile, to defend that crucial corner or create that chance that they need to take all three points – it is something that can be so powerful, and goes beyond just contributing to winning or losing a game. It can really help to create a bond between those on the pitch and those in the stands.
At Crystal Palace this is certainly the case. When at home or on their travels, the Eagles are backed by a deafening level of noise, regardless of the scoreline or opponent. Their ultras group, the Holmesdale Fanatics, have taken inspiration from fans of clubs across Europe and beyond in giving Selhurst Park a quite unique feel in England.
Despite its modest capacity of 26,000, the noise and vibrancy created by the fans in SE25 have made it a difficult trip for any side. Whether it has been contributing to the side being able to get those crucial results against the sides around them in the table, or raising the roof during famous results against the finest teams in the country, the fans have played a huge role in Palace’s recent success.
It seems that on that famous night against Liverpool, it was the fans driving their team on that allowed them to find the equaliser and complete a stunning comeback from 3-0 down. They definitely had a part to play in the 3-0 thrashing of Arsenal and certainly helped their team over the line in classic victories against Chelsea and Manchester City.
The colour and noise that Palace fans brought to Wembley for the FA Cup final against Manchester United was extraordinary, although their side narrowly lost the match 2-1 in extra time. We can only imagine the celebrations that would have followed a victory in this fixture.
"It's been nine years since the new Wembley Stadium was opened in 2007, and in my opinion I don't think the FA Cup Final has seen a more passionate, vibrant, vocal atmosphere than what our fans provided on Saturday.” – Alan Pardew on his side’s amazing support at the 2016 FA Cup Final.
It is not only the positive singing that has attracted football fans from across the World to visit to Selhurst and experience the atmosphere, as the fan-funded displays organised by the fanatics have made the group renowned for being some of the most passionate and active supporters in the country.
There aren’t many clubs where the players and manager have met and spoke with the fans in pubs and bars after home games. It speaks volumes that Alan Pardew celebrated the Fanatics’ 10-year anniversary in a local pub, whilst Jason Puncheon and Wilfried Zaha celebrated achieving Premier League safety with the ultras after the final home game of the 2016-17 season.
This bond between player and fan has helped to shape the image of the club, and gives the experience of watching Palace a certain authenticity that many clubs seem to have lost in the modern age. The unconditional dedication of the Holmesdale fanatics contributes so much to lifting the mood of supporters around them, meaning the noise reverberates all around the ground.
When a goal is scored or the final whistle is blown, it is quite an incredible sight and is definitely appreciated, as former player and manager Alan Pardew has stated that ‘Every Premier League Club wishes they had fans like the Holmesdale Fanatics’. When negotiating an agreement to move to centre of the Holmesdale End, the group boycotted matches for a brief period and it is perhaps no coincidence that the home form of the team suffered during their absence and then picked up again when they returned.
With the group only expanding and having a greater impact each season, it is an exciting time for Crystal Palace fans as the fanatics will be present in their new location behind the goal for the start of the 2019-20 season, whilst there are plans to expand their home ground, which will only enhance the electric atmosphere inside Selhurst Park.
“I don’t think I’ve very often been involved in a football match which goes to the 95th, 96th minute - with the home team losing - and have virtually nobody leave the stadium. Then to have the players cheered off the field, the way they were cheered off the field that speaks volumes really for our fans.” – Roy Hodgson, after Palace equalised in the 97th minute to draw 2-2 with West Ham in October 2017.
“I have to say a big thanks to the fans. After the game against City they were singing my name and gave me enormous support. I am very pleased with our connection.” – Luca Milivojevic, after missing a penalty against Manchester City.
The atmosphere is something that we remember fondly from great matches that we have been too, and certainly plays a huge role in making us want to return. As a player it must be incredible to attack a stand such as the Holmesdale End, the Kop, the Stretford End or the Gallowgate End, where the spirit and devotion of the fans seems to draw the ball into the net in front of them.
As a football fan, it can often be frustrating and difficult to stay positive when your club is struggling, but getting behind them can make such a huge difference, not only to the way the players perform, but also to the general feeling and mood around the club. Having a strong connection between those in the stands and those representing them on the pitch is the first step to success for any side, and there is nothing better than being in a stadium that is absolutely bouncing on a matchday.