Club History

Crystal Palace’s club history stretches all the way back to 1861 to be the oldest league football club in England. The Eagles began as an amateur side and helped found the Football Association and FA Cup.

Crystal Palace v Leicester City - Premier League
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Club name

The name, Crystal Palace Football Club, originally emerged from the side’s roots in the Crystal Palace Club’s cricket outfit. Members of the cricket club lobbied to create a football team to provide a second sport to enjoy over the winter. Thus, the amateur club with roots dating back to 1861 came into being.

Additionally, the Crystal Palace Company elected to retain the name when it founded a professional Crystal Palace Football Club in 1905. It sought to form a team to play at the sports ground within the palace to drive tourism. While archived 19th-century documents proved a relation between the two.

Crystal Palace badge

The current badge in use at Selhurst Park is the 10th crest to feature through Crystal Palace’s history as a club. But it only featured a slight alteration from the previous crest as the Eagles adopted a new design in 2022. They recognised 1861 as the team’s verified founding year having used 1905 before.

Historian Peter Manning spent five years collating historical records on Crystal Palace that proved an unbroken link between the amateur and professional teams. The first FA minutes book also showed that seven members of the amateur club played a role in the foundation of the organisation in 1863.

To recognise their connection, Crystal Palace changed the founding year on their badge to note 1861 as their start date. It was the only change the Eagles made in 2022 to the badge they first introduced in 2013. It has an eagle grasping a football with its talons above the cast-iron and glass Crystal Palace.

The badge is similar to the crest that Crystal Palace had embraced earlier in the club’s history back in 1987. But the designs vary slightly as the earlier edition featured a more-rounded Crystal Palace with the team’s name written inside a red banner. It is now written inside a blue scroll below the Palace.

Crystal Palace only introduced an eagle on their badge in 1973

Slight changes in 1994 saw Crystal Palace’s badge adopt a more aggressive-looking eagle, as well as darker shades throughout. While the 1987 design was the club’s first crest of the kind. It replaced a circular design which featured the first eagle on any badge from throughout Crystal Palace’s history.

Crystal Palace initially only embraced the club’s initials of CPFC before adopting a first formal badge in 1955. They embraced Crystal Palace with a white banner inscribed with the clubs’ name as their debut crest. While they would later alter the design in the 1960s to feature a wider Palace than first included.

A circular crest only containing the club’s initials inside a burgundy circle, which included the team’s name in full, came in during 1972, as well. The Eagles introduced the minimalist design after using just the club’s name in the five years before. But it only lasted one year before the first eagle swooped in.

Kit history

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Crystal Palace have been synonymous with the colours of red and blue throughout the club’s history in professional football. Yet the Eagles have also adopted white shirts for periods, with the base colour becoming their main away colour. While Crystal Palace used white and sky blue as an amateur team.

League history

The Crystal Palace Company entered its football club into the Southern League Second Division after establishing the team in 1905. It marked an instant start to league football for the professional club. While the 1905/06 campaign would also return the Eagles’ first promotion as that term’s champions.

Ten seasons in the Southern League First Division, interrupted by the outbreak of World War I, would follow for Crystal Palace. A change to the footballing pyramid then saw the Football League place the Eagles in the newly-formed Division Three in 1920. While the 1920/21 term led to another title, too.

Crystal Palace ended the maiden Division Three season as the champions to enter Division Two. But they would only keep their seat at the table until 1925 and stayed in the southern section of Division Three until 1958. Yet it was not promotion that ended their stay but reorganisation into Division Four.

It only took the Eagles three years to climb back into the third tier and a further three years to move back into Division Two. Top-flight football was soon on the horizon, as well, as Crystal Palace entered Division One for the first time in 1969. Yet they struggled to ever pull away from the relegation zone.

Crystal Palace reached the top-flight for the first time in 1969

Narrow escapes in 1969/70 and 1971/72 came home to roost in 1972/73 as the Eagles bowed out in 21st place. It had a devasting effect on Crystal Palace and they endured back-to-back relegations and returned to Division Three in 1974. But top-flight football would return to south London in 1979/80.

Crystal Palace worked their way back up the divisions and secured the Division Two title in 1978/79. Yet after a 13th-place finish in 1979/80, relegation beckoned again. But there would not be another fall into the third tier and the Eagles returned in 1989 after beating Blackburn Rovers in the play-offs.

The Eagles enjoyed a stronger stay in the top-flight this time and became founding members of the Premier League in 1992. Yet the first term of the breakaway division brought another relegation to Selhurst Park. And so sparked the Eagles’ spell as a yo-yo club bouncing between the top two tiers.

Relegation from the Premier League in 1998 brought a six-year hiatus before another season in the highest division in 2004/05. Crystal Palace then returned to the second tier as it became known as the Championship. It also served as their home until 2013 when Ian Holloway’s squad won the play-offs.

Crystal Palace are now enjoying their longest streak as a top-flight club from throughout the Eagles’ history in professional football. But they are yet to better the third-place finish former coach Steve Coppell oversaw in 1990/91. The Eagles’ best finish in the Premier League era was 10th in 2014/15.

Crystal Palace trophies

8 May 1994: The Crystal Palace team with their trophy celebrate after they become First Division Champions after the match against Watford at Crystal Palace in London. Watford won the match 2-0. \ Mandatory Credit: Clive Brunskill/Allsport

The smattering of relegations and promotions that litter Crystal Palace’s history as a club have also delivered some silverware. Crystal Palace’s trophy history includes two second-tier titles from the 1978/79 and 1993/94 seasons. The Eagles also won the club’s sole third-tier title so far in 1920/21.

Cup tournaments have not delivered much major success, however, having never won the FA Cup. The Eagles have also never won the English Football League Cup (EFL Cup) or won the Community Shield. But they won the 1990/91 Full Members Cup when English teams were banned from playing in Europe.

Instead, most of the successes in Crystal Palace’s history as a club came during regional or wartime competitions. They won the Football League South once during WWII in 1940/41 after winning the 1939/40 D Division title. While the Southern Football League era resulted in one Division Two title.

Players and managers

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A number of Crystal Palace legends have graced the turf at Selhurst Park throughout the history of the south London club. John McCormick won the Eagles’ inaugural Player of the Season award back in 1972. While Julian Speroni won the club’s award more times than any other player to date with four.

Modern-day Eagles hero Wilfried Zaha has three Crystal Palace Player of the Year awards in his own trophy cabinet. The Ivory Coast forward also shares the record with Speroni for the most POTY titles in a row with three wins. While Jim Cannon, the club’s record appearance maker, also won it three times.

Cannon amassed 660 appearances during his fabled career as a centre-half in south London. His run over 16 seasons eclipsed the tally of appearances Terry Long set for the club’s previous record with 480. Long later returned to Selhurst Park as the club’s assistant manager in 1972 and 1973, as well.