Founded in 1905, fans of Crystal Palace FC are building a virtual museum to mark the club's centenary year.
For the players of Crystal Palace Football Club 2005 is all about struggling for Premier League survival, but for the club’s fans it’s time to celebrate following a major lottery grant.
A £50,000 award from the Heritage Lottery Fund has been made to the Crystal Palace Fans' Centenary Project to create a virtual museum of recorded reminiscences and images online. As well as building a website the initiative includes teaching packs for local schools.
"People talking about their memories and experiences is far more evocative than a dry history book," said Centenary Project Chair and Palace fan of some 30 years, Dan Madgwick. "The grant will help us realise our dream of creating a permanent archive about the history of Crystal Palace Football Club, the area and its people."
Founded in south London in 1905, the club took its name from the glass palace that stood on Sydenham Hill where the new team would play its home matches. It’s also thanks to the famous Victorian building, which burned down in 1936, that the team’s original nickname was the Glaziers.
The Crystal Palace at Sydenham, which gave its name to the team from south London. © English Heritage.
The outbreak of the First World War (1914-18) meant Palace had to move and for a time the team played at Herne Hill before settling at the Nest opposite Selhurst Station in 1918. In 1924 the club acquired a stadium at Selhurst Park, where they’ve played their home matches ever since.
However, the archive will not just be about the football. Inevitably, and like most football clubs, the history of the team is intertwined with that of its supporters and their home turf.
"A well established local club with a loyal following over a long period of time plays an important role in the life of a community," explained Regional Manager for HLF London, Sue Bowers.
"This project will not only help mark the club’s centenary year but create an enduring record of memories available to a wide audience that will bring its past to life."
The Heritage Lottery Fund money will go towards creating the oral history side of the project in which fans will be asked for their memories of the club and area.
A cartoon of Palace hero Peter Simpson from 1934. Simpson scored 153 goals for the club between 1930 and 1936. Courtesy Crystal Palace Fans' Centenary Project.
A group of 100 volunteers drawn from local supporters will undertake the project following training from staff at Croydon Museum Service. It is hoped interviews with interested supporters will take place in their homes as well as on match days when a ‘vox pop’ Portacabin will be available.
Alongside the recording of oral history, the project will see material and artefacts from private collections of memorabilia photographed and digitised for the website.
Furthermore teaching packs will be created to tie in with National Curriculum Key Stages three and four, covering history, art, English and geography. They will be available to around 60 local schools with up to 10 of them being offered outreach sessions to get closer to the project.
Based on average attendances at home matches and current levels of subscription to fans’ websites, organisers believe that up to 25,000 people will benefit from the project.