Preparing for this week’s satirical piece I first visited my own football research site – The Football Ground – and spotted that the social media feeds on the Crystal Palace club page were incomplete because a ‘Crystal Palace Supporters Group’ on Facebook had gone missing. Not knowing whether this was irony or ire, I sought out Duke Woy of Middlesex for some answers.
Duke Woy was indulging in one of his many passions (which include international technical studies to work out why footballs are round when feet aren’t; foreign language study (including Lancastrian and Brummie) and Sebastian Faulks’s seminal work of fiction – ‘Birdsong’ – for which Duke Roy is collaborating on the much less fictional follow-up: ‘The Eagle has not only landed but shows very few signs of life’). Today, Duke Woy is captaining a paddle steamer down the Thames.
Mark: Crystal Palace are the first team in English Football League history to begin a season with six defeats and no goals. Do you think you can turn it around?
Duke Woy: Not at the moment because there are lots of much bigger and more expensive pleasure craft around, packed with people enjoying themselves; we don’t want to turn the tide. I learned that in my amateur days.
Mark: But Crystal Palace are the only team in Europe’s top five divisions yet to score a league goal this season. Things are looking grim, aren’t they?
Duke Woy: Have you ever been to Carshalton?
Mark: And you’ve conceded 13 goals!
Duke Woy: Now that is a bit of a concern. Thirteen, as we all know, is an unlucky number and things could become a bit choppy if we don’t work very hard. Thankfully Ray is in charge of the rudder. Ray! Ray, look, that’s the Thames barrier – we could learn a bit from that! Look at all those ships passing through it…there must be a leak somewhere.
Mark: Do you think you have learned enough in your football career to handle the heat?
Duke Woy: I’m very well respected in Scandinavia. I’ve got the full coaching set you know – Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Blackburn. But, as I think you are inferring, things were very different there. Much colder.
Mark: And now you’ve lost Christian Benteke?
Duke Woy: Have we? Ray! Ray, man overboard! Perhaps we should launch the life rafts after all?
Mark: And Connor Wickham is still injured?
Duke Woy: I don’t believe I’ve met him yet. Is he part of the grounded staff?
Mark: You’ve already created your own piece of Crystal Palace history. How does that make you feel?
Duke Woy: Yes. You’re right. I was a promising youth team player and the rest is history. Not bad for a Croydon boy to go on to manage 16 teams in 8 countries! This is my second London team. Ray! Ray, if we keep going we’ll pass Craven Cottage. You must remember it? Archibald Leitch designed the main stand, just like he did at Chelsea who were formed in the same year: 1905.
Mark: Chelsea and Crystal Palace seem much further apart these days.
Duke Woy: Yes, I can see the point that you are trying to make but it’s an optical illusion really. You see the original Crystal Palace was constructed in Hyde Park to house the Great Exhibition of 1851 which I attended as a small boy. Much of it was constructed out of the new plate glass. Because of this, the building required little interior lighting and, hence it became known as a ‘crystal palace.’ It was rebuilt – just like the work that Ray and I are doing now – on Penge Peak, beside Sydenham. Workers in those days were known as Glaziers and formed the first Crystal Palace football team. A hard day’s work could always be relied upon to put bread on the table. I know this for a fact because my mother was a baker.
Mark: So, the club is in safe hands?
Duke Woy: Well, all I can tell you is that I was considered to be a safe pair of hands when I took on the England job and that didn’t turn out too badly did it? We didn’t sink. Ray! Ray, if we keep to the channels someone will pick us up, eventually.