Mark Bright equalises v Liverpool in the FA Cup semi-final, 1990.

Information: This is an article I wrote for The Eagles Beak and has been published here 1 month it was published on their website. This version may differ slightly from their version. 

Towards the end of last season we kept being spoon fed the same old line that “Crystal Palace are in the most successful period in the clubs history” and my favourite “Crystal Palace has never been in the Premier League for a forth consecutive season before!”

Both these points are true but only from a certain point of view!

The only way the current period of time can be classed as our most successful period is if you think of it in financial terms, which would be wrong to do. Who judges how successful their football club is based on the revenue? I, for one, do not!

In my opinion, and in the opinion of any sane minded Crystal Palace fan, the most successful period in our clubs history was between 1989-1993 when we competed in the top division for 4 years. We competed for 3 years in the old First Division and for 1 year in the new Premier League.

What keeps being repeated is that we have been in the Premier League for 4 years, something we have not done before. But, as we all know, football didn’t begin in 1992! Crystal Palace competed in the top flight of English football for four consecutive years twice before. In 1969-1973 and 1989-1993.

With this in mind, let’s compare the first 3 years of the period from 1989-1993, to use the 4th year would be unfair because we have not completed the current season, the 4th one.

Here’s an overview:

Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Honours
1989-93 15th 3rd 10th 20th FA Cup runners up (replay)
Full Members Cup winners (ET)
2013-16 11th 10th 15th FA Cup runners up (ET)

Taking our league positions into account, have we finished 3rd recently? No, I thought not!

Total stats:

Average position Total points Total goals scored Total goals against
1989-93 10th (9.33th) 174 145 168
2013-16 12th 135 119 160

So, as you can see, in 1989-1993 we won a total of 174 points, scoring 145 goals and conceding 168 goals. We got to the FA Cup Final, losing to Manchester United in a replay.

In addition we won the Full Member’s Cup against Everton. You can scoff if you like but it was a recognised cup competition and a Wembley final! If you would prefer to not count the Full Member’s Cup you may do so, it only adds garish to the meat of my point.

In 2013-16 we finished 11th, 10th and 15th, scoring a total of 135 points, scoring 119 goals and conceding 160 goals. We got to the FA Cup Final, losing to Manchester United in extra time.

If we average out our league positions for the first 3 seasons of the 1989-94 period it would be 9.33, so we’ll say 10th to be generous. Our current average position would be 12th.

Anything else I want to add? Sure, in 1989-93 we had the likes of Wright, Bright, Gray, Salako, Shaw, McGoldrick, Thorn, etc.

Who do we have today who is on a par with them? I would say only Zaha would make it into the 1991 team from today’s team.

So, in conclusion I stress again that this is NOT the most successful period of our history and I appeal to everyone to stop repeating it. Just because Steve Parish says it is that doesn’t mean it’s true!

But how do we judge a clubs success in the absence of trophies and European qualification? If we manage the unthinkable and stay up for a 5th consecutive season is that a better achievement than finishing 3rd in 1990/91? Would staying up for a 6th season and losing another final equal 1990/91?

It’s tough. To have a more successful season we have to finish 3rd or better but to judge a period… It’s tricky and it will mean different things to different people.