Belfast Telegraph

Monday 1 September 2014

Fan power does count – just ask Tony Pulis

Crystal Palace fans support their side

Crystal Palace fans. Wow! My ears are still ringing from being at Selhurst Park on Monday night.

I've heard football followers all over the world, but few have impressed me the way Eagles supporters did before, during and after their extraordinary 3-3 draw with Liverpool.

Unlike fans of other football clubs who promote themselves to mythical status with little reason, Crystal Palace lovers aren't that big on bigging themselves up. They let the noise do the talking for them.

Before going to see the Liverpool game, locals promised a special atmosphere, but to be honest I thought it would be generated by 3,000 scousers celebrating an away victory.

How wrong I was on two counts. At Selhurst Park hearing is believing.

I'm telling you, their fans just never stop. Even when the Eagles were trailing 3-0 to a then rampant Liverpool, the songs continued all around the ground. You can imagine what it was like as Palace mounted that astonishing comeback.

At one stage I thought the old style stadium was going to shake itself out of its foundations such was the volume reverberating all around.

There's no doubt that Liverpool fans have made a difference to Brendan Rodgers and his side this season in their title bid, but I doubt no supporters have made more of an impact than those wearing Crystal Palace colours. With the sense of community and togetherness off the pitch and the efforts of outstanding manager Tony Pulis and his under-rated players on it, no wonder the Eagles have soared so high in the table. Good luck to them next season.

Another group of fans to be admired are those who follow the Ulster Rugby team. They were in fine voice again last Friday at the official opening of the new Ravenhill.

Now regarded as the team's 16th man, if Ulster continue to pick up early red cards as they have done against Saracens (Jared Payne) and Leinster (Tom Court) recently, they will have to be re-named the 15th man!

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