Identity. Heritage. History. Pride.
These are just some of the most important elements of a football club’s crest. In my opinion, the current Crystal Palace badge has this. We are nicknamed the eagles, and an eagle is present. We are named after, and formed because of, the Crystal Palace building, and the building is present. Our colours are red and blue; our crest is red and blue. The badge is by no means perfect; the football upon which the eagle is perched is very amateur, and the Crystal Palace building’s true beauty isn’t quite captured by the representation here. Nonetheless, the badge is instantly recognisable, captures both our present and past, and is a crest which I can be rightfully proud of.
However, despite all this, CPFC2010 (the owners of Palace, consisting of Steve Parish, Steve Browett, Martin Long and Jeremy Hosking) have been attempting to change the crest into a fresher and more merchandisable image going forward.
When these plans were announced, debate was rife between Palace fans about how open they were to change, and what they wanted from a new badge. Many were happy with our current badge; most satisfied with it, but open to change; and a few wanting a complete overhaul of it. But one recurring theme which continued to crop up was that the new badge must feature the Crystal Palace building.
In recent interviews, Steve Parish has referred to the building, in its time seen as one of the wonders of the world, as an ‘old greenhouse’. This shows a huge lack of respect for the club’s heritage and history. At the same time, Parish has, when speaking about our proposed stadium move to Crystal Palace Park (the site of the original Crystal Palace building), mentioned that he can’t find any argument for returning Crystal Palace FC to, erm, Crystal Palace. Odd comments. How can he label the site of the Crystal Palace as our spiritual home whilst demeaning the building itself that meant we came into being by calling it a ‘greenhouse’ and wanting to rid it from our badge?
The club has something unique in that we are not named after a place or a town, like so many other football teams. We are not an Albion, a United, a City, or a Town. Our name itself is different, and it should be taken advantage of as such. If you showed someone an eagle, and asked what football team it represented, a variety of answers may be received. The eagle does have a lot to do with our club. It is our nickname, it is our mascot. An eagle flies around the stadium before every home game to gee up the crowd, and we sing ‘Eagles! Eagles!’. But Lazio, Benfica and Nigeria, amongst others, are also nicknamed after the fearsome bird and it is not unique to us one bit.
On the other hand, if you showed someone a picture of the great Crystal Palace building, and asked what football team it represented, there would only be one answer; Crystal Palace Football Club.
Most clubs’ crests feature their nickname heavily. Why? Because there is nothing distinctive about, say, the words ‘Derby’, ‘Manchester United’, or ‘Brighton and Hove Albion’. But there is about the name ‘Crystal Palace’!
We are a South London club. A recent marketing campaign by the club used the slogans ‘South London and Proud’ and ‘Born in South London’. The Crystal Palace was sadly burnt down in 1936, but whilst it was still erect, it made South London one of the most visited parts of London, and it was a place many of the rich and famous resided. There are sadly no real landmarks that really represent South London right now. So, if we are so proud of our South London roots, why not retain the landmark that put it on the map?
Whilst I really do admire our current badge, I must admit that I was never (and still am not) completely opposed to change. It is true that the badge could be improved. It is also true that the club do not actually have any form of patent regarding the crest, and as a result the crest has been used by former owner Ron Noades’ golf course company, Altonwood, and has also curiously been used by a pub in Clapham. These are negatives, but negatives nonetheless, and if CPFC2010 came up with a badge which did a better job of representing and displaying my club, I would be completely open to it.
Thus, I awaited the prospective designs to be released. It was announced that four would be unveiled, with season ticket holders and members being given the opportunity to vote on their favourite. The current badge would not be an option in this vote.
They were released this morning (at the time of writing, morning of 4th August) and are, in my view, quite horrific. CPFC2010 have done some great things for my club; without them it wouldn’t exist; they interact with the fans both on and off the messageboards; they are sensible in backing the manager and won’t let us enter a third administration period; they have the club at heart. But, this planned crest change will certainly not be joining the aforementioned list. The 4 crests open to voting are below.
You will notice that yes, the Crystal Palace building is featured on 3 of the 4 crests. But it has been drawn up shoddily, and merely plonked on the badge ‘somewhere’ rather than ‘there’, in an attempt to appease the fans (Steve Parish has admitted as much). The Crystal Palace should be the centrepiece of any crest we have. It is more than a greenhouse.
I shall be going into more detail on each prospective new crest on my next post, which you can read here.