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London City Lionesses v Crystal Palace Women - Barclays FA Women’s Championship

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Fan Focus: Crystal Palace Women fan Phil gives us the lowdown on the Eagles ahead of Sunday

Phil Huffer is a long -erm Crystal Palace fanatic and he’s been going to watch their women’s team since 2016. After a mixed start to the Eagles’ season, how does he see Sunday’s FA Women’s Championship match unfolding?

Waldie Lizzie of Crystal Palace Women in action during the Barclays FA Women’s Championship match between London City Lionesses and Crystal Palace Women at Princes Park on September 05
| Photo by Tom Dulat - The FA/The FA via Getty Images

Roker Report: When did you start watching Crystal Palace Women, and who do you go to the match with?

Phil Huffer: I started watching Palace Women regularly about five years ago. There’s a group of us who stand behind the goal at Hayes Lane called the CPFCW Loyal. A few of us travel to the more local away games – as far north as Leicester (before their promotion) and Coventry United, and down to Lewes, Southampton (in the cup a couple of seasons ago).

There are also some Palace Women fans around the country who attend games local to them, including some North East Eagles who will be at the away game later in the season.

RR: How was this summer for the club – were there many incomings and outgoings?

PH: This summer we had a large turnover of players for many reasons. Some of our players travelled quite a way for training and couldn’t commit to the increased number of training sessions and some left for personal, health and other reasons. From our first two matches, I have been really impressed with our new additions.

They seem to have settled in well and have a clear understanding of their roles in the team and I know they have all worked really hard in pre-season.

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Keeper Emily Orman is on loan at Palace from Chelsea
Photo by Karl Bridgeman - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images

RR: How much support does CPFC give to its women’s section, are the team professional or semi-pro, and do they share the training facilities and background support?

PH: Palace Women are part-time; I think they train about four nights a week and from this season their training base is the club’s new Academy Training Ground, which is near to completion at a cost of over £20m.

The facilities there are fantastic and it was great that the club allowed the women’s team to start training there. We have reasonable coverage on the club’s official site but the player profiles need updating! The women’s Twitter page gives matchday team news and match updates and a designated social media role for the women is due to be filled soon.

The programme for the men’s games includes a two-page feature on a women’s player and the women and men are together on player photos on signage around Selhurst Park.

The women’s shirts are now sponsored by Facebank, a company owned by the club’s newest co-owner, John Textor, who has shown a real interest in the women’s team. It is really exciting to have John on board and to read about his passion for all things Palace.

To compete in this league we need that type of backing and, ideally, we can move to full time at some point in the future like so many other clubs have done. That’s more me being hopefully than anything I have heard officially though.

Leicester City Women v Crystal Palace Women - Barclays FA Women’s Championship
Dean Davenport, Manager of Crystal Palace
Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images

RR: A win and a loss so far this season with six goals scored and five conceded… has it been exciting stuff to watch?

PH: This season we have played in two very entertaining games. Our first game against Bristol City started with a bang as we won a penalty 10 seconds from kick off. We were strolling at 4-1 before conceding two goals to leave us nervously waiting for the final whistle.

Against London City we again started well, scoring after three minutes but were then outplayed for much of the game by, what I thought was, the best footballing side I have seen at this level in recent years. I think London City will go on to have a very good season. We are good to watch and play an open, attacking game with wing-backs pushing forward.

RR: Who are the star performers? Who should we be looking out for on Sunday?

PH: We have quality all over the pitch and so it’s difficult to pick out star performers. Bianca Baptiste was our player of the year last season and top goalscorer. This season Shiv Wilson has started particularly well, Coral Haines already has two goals from midfield and is a creative player of real quality and Lizzie Waldie at the back has a big future ahead of her.

We have players on loan from super league clubs Chelsea and Spurs too, so there is quality right the way across the squad.

London City Lionesses v Crystal Palace Women - Barclays FA Women’s Championship
Coral Haines of Crystal Palace Women in action during the Barclays FA Women’s Championship match between London City Lionesses and Crystal Palace Women at Princes Park on September 05, 2021 in Dartford, England.
Photo by Tom Dulat - The FA/The FA via Getty Images

RR: If Sunderland fans in and around London want to come down to Selhurst Park on Sunday, where would you recommend for a drink and a bite to eat?

PH: It would be fantastic to have Sunderland fans at the game on Sunday.

As we are playing at Selhurst, rather than at Hayes Lane, there are lots of pubs near the ground. I would recommend the Shelverdine Goathouse near Norwood Junction as a welcoming pub. It’s only open to home fans when the men’s team play but that won’t be the case on Sunday. I think all e-tickets for the game must be bought in advance from the Palace official website and so Sunderland fans should please check those details before travelling.

RR: Who do you think will win and what will the score be?

PH: Sunderland have had a great start to the season and so it will be a very tough game for Palace. I think there’ll be goals as there usually is when we play. I will go for one team to nick it 3-2 but I can’t say who that will be as it will be that close. Whatever the score I would like to wish Sunderland all the best for the season.

Crystal Palace v Lewes - Barclays FA Women’s Championship
Bianca Baptiste of Crystal Palace controls the ball during the Barclays FA Women’s Championship match between Crystal Palace and Lewes at Hayes Lane on May 02, 2021
Photo by James Chance/Getty Images

Sunderland AFC fans in London are invited by Palace fan @Andy_Lucey to join him and other Crystal Palace Ladies supporters for a six-mile Sunday morning walk, which starts at 10.30am from Bromley FC’s Hayes Lane Ground (BR2 9EF), where Palace Women normally play their games, to the venue for this match - Selhurst Park Stadium.

You should arrive in good time for the match at 2pm and make some new friends along the way! Do book your match tickets in advance £8 for Adults, £5 for Over 65s and Under 16s are FREE, and are available to purchase here.


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