Steps of English spring are never reliable, but today it made me believe the long dark winter might be finally over. On such a beautiful day, what should I do? I decided to go to Crystal Palace. The reason is obvious when you look at the pictures. Blue sky in the Football Pilgrimage photos are quite rare...
Crystal Palace was a palace made of cast-iron and glasses for the Great Exhibition in 1851, which was originally built in Hyde Park. The spectacular building seems to be almost a show-off at that time, of the latest technology that the British developed over the industrial revolution. After the exhibition, the palace was rebuilt in south London, but unfortunately it was lost in the fire in November1936. So we can no longer see the beautiful crystal palace today.
However, we can still see its ruins. Remaining is the base and staircases. Standing on the open, if you close your eyes in the clean air of March, you can see the 19th century building right in front of you, can't you?
OK, if you can't imagine it, you can still find the palace in the crest of Crystal Palace Football Club. Underneath the bald eagle, the legendary Crystal Palace still exists here.
Although the current Palace's stadium, Shelhurst Park is about 1.5 miles away from Crystal Palace Park, once the Eagles side was playing at the ground looking up the crystal building. It was for a short period of time, but imagine the gift of the Industrial Revolution represents your club, what could be more proud symbol than that. Now the venue is called Crystal Palace National Sports Centre and used for various sporting events, but not for the Premier League matches.
Enough of history, now the Shelhurst Park Stadium. It locates in the middle of hilly residential area and its outstanding red bricks are rather beautiful. I'm never so sure which side is the front, but usually take the shot from Homesdale Road side. Please correct me if it wasn't the front!
The reality is different. The Crystals are really lovely in every way. Their genuine friendliness drew my eyes at our first encounter. They were no way putting on airs or pretentious, and their rehearsal sessions were professional and even tough. Attending charity events and spending time with children, the girls have been improving their image and winning the support from the fans.
On the match day before the kick-off, I saw the girls trying to talk to the fans with their naturally friendly flair and to share the match day excitement with them regardless of only 5 degree temperature outside the stadium. What is worse, just before the half time performance, it even started raining, yes, quite heavily. But the Crystals didn't mess around the hair or make-up and gave everything into their performance.
Their must-have item will probably be the hair-dryer, but I know how hard it is to look pretty and perform well in the merciless English weather!
Crystal Palace FC has a lovely group of cheerleaders. It may be the norm in the US, but it is actually quite rate to see this type of entertainment at English football ground, or any kind of sports venue in England. Maybe only MotoGP has glamorous girls around it. I analyse that this is down to British inclination toward the simplicity and tradition of understatement. Although Japanese rather inclined toward Americans when it comes to show business, I like the British attitude of down-to-earth spectacles. So basically, when you play football, let's focus on football, that's their basic stance as I understand.
Among the football fans not immunised against proper show biz, the hardworking Crystal Girls seem to have had to work even harder. There are accordingly fans who believe the girls only cared about their look and attention, and such girls as pole dancers would be only a destruction of the games. Well, I can't completely deny I kind of had a bit of such feeling until I actually met the girls in person at one of my TV shoots.
The audition might not be as hard as Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, but it is quite tough to be a Premier League cheerleader. But the whole effort of the girls paid off and it makes them even more special and adorable. Crystal Palace is a family club, but they are the only Premier League side which has the official cheerleaders. So if you want a bit of show biz in England, this is the club to go for!
<Basic Club Information>
Established in 1905
Nickname: Eagles, Palace
Official website: http://www.cpfc.co.uk
Stadium: Shelhurst Park