Five things to watch out for in Amazon’s new Crystal Palace series

Kacper Wilkins
Kacper Wilkins
8 Min Read

Amazon Prime Video launch their docu-series ‘When Eagles Dare’ on Friday with all five episodes available.

It charts Crystal Palace’s dramatic journey from administration in 2010 to winning Premier League promotion at Wembley three years later.

Here, the PA news agency picks out some highlights to look out for.

Fans hold the key

Crystal Palace fans celebrate near London Bridge following an announcement that the club is to be saved from extinction

(PA Archive)

The first episode – Back from the brink – begins with fans outside Lloyds Bank HQ in London protesting to save the club. With time running out for a Steve Parish-led consortium to buy Palace, the power of the supporters ensures the key figures at the bank bring down their expected price for Selhurst Park and allow CPFC2010 to purchase the stadium and club. It was labelled as an “incredible chain of events” by Parish which started with a message on a fans’ forum and ended with the current chairman admitting: “The fans unlocked the whole situation.” Described in searing detail, it shows how close the south London side were to going out of business.

Dougie does the dirty

Dougie Freedman left for Bolton

(PA Archive)

Inadvertently the docu-series provides a glimpse into how the club is run in the present. Current sporting director Dougie Freedman is a central figure in the first two episodes but remains the elephant in the room after his shock departure early into the 2012-13 season. Tempted by Bolton’s advances, the Scot leaves Selhurst after being crucial to their rebuilding job and it leaves a void. In one of the only interviews the club great has given since he returned, Freedman reflects: “My circle of influence was wrong at the time, I was too impatient and I didn’t know what I had.” With voices from both sides of the fence, Parish and Freedman discuss their roles in an exit which divided fans. All would be forgiven in 2017 when Freedman returned and his suitability for the sporting director role is shown when he is key to the new board in keeping players, deciding who to appoint as manager in 2011 and which signings are needed. This is all part and parcel of his duties over 10 years ago but remain the same in the current era.

Howe close was Sean?

Eddie Howe (left) and Sean Dyche were both linked with Palace

(PA Archive)

With Roy Hodgson stepping down from Palace at the end of the last season, Crystal Palace are looking for a new boss and some of the potential candidates are Eddie Howe and Sean Dyche. ‘When Eagles’ Dare’ reveals both could have already had a spell in the Selhurst Park hotseat. When George Burnley leaves in 2011, Parish had “agreed everything with Eddie” only for him to go to the Clarets instead. It taught the current chairman “another lesson about football” which a decade later could be relevant this summer. Meanwhile Freedman, who was assistant at the time, had told Parish not to appoint Howe given the relegation battle the club found themselves in. Eventually the Scot got the job but when he left in 2012, then co-chairman Stephen Browett reveals his own admiration for Dyche but on the day the club were due to speak with him… Burnley swoop in again. Will it be second time lucky for either this summer?

From zero to Holloway hero!

Holloway initially turned down Palace

(PA Archive)

Holloway was another to turn the job down, initially appearing to go to Ipswich only for them to go with Mick McCarthy which saw the Bristolian required to call up Parish and honestly admit they were offering loads more money. Once the ex-Blackpool manager is hired, he is described as “very different to Dougie” and it sets the tone for the chaotic next six months. Top in December, a horror run almost results in the Eagles missing out on the play-offs. Parish and Holloway recall a tense conversation where it transpires the players had reverted to old tactics before a truce is struck. In trademark fashion, a speech to supporters inside the Julian Speroni Bar at Selhurst Park by Holloway helps get them on side before similar is relayed to his players before their final-day match with Peterborough. Passion, laughs and screaming aplenty, Holloway goes from zero to hero when he wisely predicts he is “the perfect man for the job” in the play-offs. In charge of keeping the players and club calm, he guides them through a tense semi-final with Brighton before his minor details ahead of Wembley ensure Palace reach the big time.

Wilfried’s will remains

Zaha continues to shine in his second spell at the club

(PA Wire)

Like so many in ‘When Eagles Dare’, Wilfried Zaha remains at the club and has been pivotal in ensuring they have remained in the Premier League. Constantly linked with a move away and honest about his desire to play at a big team, fans will relish his input into the rivalry with Brighton and hearing what the club and winning at Wembley means to him. Midway through the docu-series, the academy graduate agrees a move to Manchester United – in some part down to Sir Alex Ferguson’s son Darren Ferguson who tells his father to buy the winger after tearing his own Peterborough side apart. Zaha signs but returns to Palace on loan due to his desire to finish what they had started and “the difference to our community” Premier League football would bring. In a number of wide-ranging clips, the now Ivory Coast international talks about his “big achievement” playing for England and reveals he still watches that “unbelievable night” at Brighton on YouTube “to relive it.” It demonstrates his continued love for the club and while he waits for another shot at the highest level, his affection for Palace remains unaffected.

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