I spent Saturday afternoon with a Crystal Palace fan that went through the five stages of grief in the span of 90+ minutes of football and I lived to tell the story.
Now, let’s take a moment to remember those poor souls who were heavily invested in the Swansea vs. Crystal Palace match on Saturday. Those whose hearts didn’t just skip a beat, but actively avoided them, like Arsene Wenger avoids spending money or how Barcelona players avoid doing their taxes. Done? Good. Now, let’s revel at how incredibly ‘WTF’ happened in the finish of this football match?
The 5-4 victory to Swansea was arguably the best and weirdest finish to a Premier League game this season. I was able to take pleasure in watching a mate from my football team, age 15 years, lose all his hair, grow it back, all for it to go grey in the end like Alan Pardew’s hair in just 90mins of Premier League action.
First stage – Denial
We finished our game of football and with the rest of our team we went straight to the bar. Luckily for me we had made it just in time to watch Swansea’s Gylfi Sigurdsson equal the scoring with a pinpoint free kick. “Bloody hell!” I heard my mate – let’s call him “Chris” – yell out as he bought the first round for the boys. Only two minutes later, it was “I don’t believe this” as Wilfred Zaha came within inches of scoring a brace, only to be denied off the woodwork. The stage of denial was well and truly in play.
Who knows though, if Connor Wickham or Christian Benteke hadn’t made fools of themselves on the follow-up, this may very well have played out differently? But, it didn’t and soon enough we had entered the second stage.
Second stage – Anger
In the 66th minute, it was Swansea’s Leroy Fer who pounced on an attempt at a goal-line clearance that wouldn’t have looked out of place an hour ago in our park “kick about” football game.
“DAMMIT!” Chris yelled as his head tucked into his waistline. Crystal Palace (buy kit here) had blown their one goal lead in a comical fashion. “Just kick the bloody thing out, don’t try and play with it.” said Chris. Unbeknownst to him, the worst was still to follow. Fer scored again just two minutes after his first, this time with both teams playing more 1960’s pinball, rather than football. Chris yelled some things that would’ve seen him red carded earlier on in the day, but thankfully the ref was long gone by this stage. At 3-1, Swansea were in control and things looked mighty bleak, but then we entered the next stage of the day.
Third stage – Begging
Whatever deal with the devil (more commonly known as Sir Alex Ferguson) Chris and the Crystal Palace collective had made, it seemed to have worked. Off a corner in the 75th minute, a slow but annoying header was flung at Swansea keeper Lukasz Fabianski, who managed to punch the ball into Palace’s James Tomkins knee-cap, for the easiest goal of his life. “Come on boys!” Chris exclaimed. The comeback was on!
It was then that Swansea’s Jack Cork produced probably the best headed goal of his career, a screamer into the top corner of the net, giving the keeper no chance to reach it. Except of course that it was in his own net and he’d just scored the “own goal of the season”, to bring Palace level! Chris jumped up from his seat, beer spilt everywhere and his mood had gone from gloomy to exuberant in a matter of just minutes. Things were only just heating up as minutes later, the devil had seemingly held up his end of the bargain as Benteke, from just a few yards out, blasted a shot off of one post, onto the other and into the goal to give Palace the edge 4-3 and thus gave Chris a mini heart attack.
But, as Isaac Newton once said, “what goes up, must come down”, which brings us to the fourth stage of grief.
Stage 4 – Depression
Fernando Llorente was having none of it and pounced a minute into stoppage time on an inbox scrap, while the devil had surely gone for a break to take a leak. Sigurdsson’s shot from outside the box may very well have found the back of the net anyway, but Llorente, seemingly unable to get out of the way of the shot took the glory away to tie things up at 4-4. Chris lost his cool and walked out of the clubhouse, distraught at what he had just witnessed, but unlike some fans at the game, who left before it was all said and done, he returned, he may have wished that he didn’t do so.
Then only 2 mins later, in the 93rd minute, it was Llorente again, that Spanish sleeper Centre Forward, had woken up and pounced on a loose ball in the area to slot it into the side net, for 5-4! A quick look at Chris told the whole story ; mouth wide open, pupils darting from side to side in an attempt to figure out what the “F*ck” had just happened?! Just before the slow fall of his head into his hands, which all football fans know oh so well. There was to be no final comeback from Palace as they eventually lost the game, unable to get back until the ref blew the whistle in the 96th minute. This brings us to the fifth and final stage of grief, which I had a front row seat in watching transpire on Saturday.
Stage 5 – Acceptance
If Chris ever actually accepts what he saw, I’ll let you know, but it sure didn’t happen on Saturday afternoon.
<Story by Riley “Caveman” Krause>
Featured Photo Credit: Karen_Nadine – Pixabay