As a football fan, the promised land of the Premier League is without doubt the place to be, writes James Sandford.
Untold riches and the added bonus of not having to stay up til an un-Godly hour to view 20 seconds of highlights - it all adds to the allure of England’s top footballing tier.
As a Crystal Palace fan, I have just experienced what’s quite possibly the best feeling a football supporter can: promotion to the Premier League via the £120m play-off final.
Having spent a truly brilliant day out at Wembley with my long-suffering father, soaking up the atmosphere, singing at the top of my voice and half watching the winning penalty, I was on top of the world.
So imagine my horror the following morning when picking up a national paper on my stumble to work. Talk about being brought back down to earth with a bump. Expecting to see pullout after pullout of interviews, features and photographs of the momentous day, I was greeted by the headline GOD HELP US.
After continuing to read the reports and expert opinions, I was starting to wish I hadn’t bothered. Maybe this Premier League lark wasn’t for us.
According to the columnists, Palace were going to lose more often than not and were overwhelming favourites for relegation. It wasn’t just the paper’s opinion, either. Ian Holloway, the club’s manager. was also piling on the caution ahead of the season in the top flight.
There is a more positive school of thought ... mine. When I cast my mind back to the start of this season I was faced with a similar picture. Palace were among the favourites for relegation and lost their opening four games of the season - and look where we ended up. There is hope.
I also look at the successful models of the likes of Norwich, Southampton and Swansea and can only help but feel a little optimism that with some sensible investments, a lot of heart and even more luck, we can pull off the great escape.
I may be proved wrong at the end of the season, but what a season it will be. Trips to Manchester Utd, Arsenal and Chelsea await and I intend to enjoy every minute.
My club almost didn’t exist three years ago, so who can blame me?
The underlying message I’m trying to convey is this: write off the underdog at your peril because, as we have seen, anything can happen in football.
I’m still feeling more than ‘Glad all over’ and long may it continue
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