As you will probably know Palace’s spiritual and ancestral home was the Crystal Palace at Sydenham. An amateur Crystal Palace Football Club was formed there in 1861 and the current professional team was formed there in 1905. The author Peter Manning has developed a deep interest in the football club’s time at Sydenham, both amateur and professional, and spent the past four years researching and writing a book which has now been published. Palace at the Palace – A History of The Crystal Palace & Its Football Club 1851-1915.
The book draws on completely new sources of information. Over the past five years or so the British Library has digitised over 25 million pages of its Victorian and Edwardian newspaper collection and a forensic examination of this collection reveals a very new and different history for both the amateur and professional clubs than the Palace history books have recorded to date.
The Crystal Palace amateur football club emerged from the Crystal Palace Cricket Club in 1861 and its members had hitherto unknown but provable links with the Founding Fathers of the Football Association and a much more integral role in the founding of soccer than has been recognised before. There were four core football clubs at the heart of founding the F.A. and then keeping it going in its early fragile years. Crystal Palace was one of those four clubs and the only one surviving today. Drawing on nearly 1,000 references from contemporary newspapers and archives of the time, Peters book tells the story through the eyes of people who were there.
Making the statement that Crystal Palace is the only survivor of the four key founding clubs pre-supposes that there was a link between the amateur Crystal Palace club and today’s professional club, a fact which, until now, has always been held not to be the case. However, through examination of contemporary newspapers, previously undiscovered reports by those directly involved and the archives of the Crystal Palace Company a strong case can be built up to show that the amateur and professional clubs can be connected.
Along with the first ever complete history of the Crystal Palace Company, the professional club’s original parent, the new analysis of the amateur and early professional club’s histories is told in the book and the case made for linking the two. If accepted, it gives today’s club a completely unique place in football history; from its previously unrecorded history as one of the four key clubs that founded the F.A. to being able to claim to be the oldest professional league club in world football today (displacing Notts County, founded in November 1862).