Looking Back: A Historically Significant Transfer Window for Crystal Palace

Written by Mark Silverstein

With this possibly being one of Crystal Palace's most ambitious transfer windows yet, Mark Silverstein looks back at one that was less heralded, yet potentially more significant.

Damien Delaney

As we bask in the late summer satisfaction of a (so far) very successful transfer window and, for a change, a promising start to the season, I cast my mind back to a very different time and a different transfer window. 

For those 12,000 to 16,000 who regularly used to turn up at Selhust Park a few years ago, the start of the 2012/13 season was a world away from what we have now.  A miserable end to the 2012 season was carrying on in August with defeat snatched from the jaws of victory against Watford, a humiliating away 4-1 loss to Bristol City (Bristol City!) and frankly embarrassing away cup loss to League 1 Preston North End- it was looking like a relegation battle already and the end of the line for Dougie. 

There was clearly a need for the last minute reinforcements as the transfer window closed. I remember being on a weekend walking holiday in Wales when I got a text message from a friend informing me that we had signed Yannick Bolasie, Damien Delaney and Andre Moritz. At the time I remember being somewhat dubious that a young tricky winger with little end product and a slightly past his best central defender we're going to make any difference. Moritz held out more promise as at least he was Brazilian. I think. 

With hindsight I am very pleased to say how wrong I was. Within one match after the transfer window shut we were a team transformed with all three players making critical contributions in their own way that season. The televised image of Delaney sobbing like a baby at the end of the playoff final is a happy memory which I will never forget. 

I know that since then we have had some exciting transfer windows, especially this current one ( we will ignore the crazed supermarket sweep of summer 2013), but I would argue that Dougie Freedman's seemingly desperate dealings in late August was the most critical transfer window in recent years.   Given our circumstances at the time, the contribution made by those players that season and the continuing, vital roles of Bolasie ("F-off Tottenham, Bolaise is ours" .....hopefully) and Delaney, that single window (particularly if you include the earlier purchase of Joel Ward) became the bedrock of our move up the table and out of the Championship. 

Even more controversially, I do think we owe a huge amount of gratitude to Dougie Freedman for the team he put together before he was tempted away for the relative riches of Bolton. (Irony is one of the great dramatic devices that football does so well!).  Three years, one promotion and four different managers is a significant amount of change even for football but it is remarkable how many of the regulars of the Dougie Freedman era remain core to the club. Although I know Yannick and Glenn are in the transfer gossip pages, at the moment, the core of Dougie's team (Speroni, Ward, Delaney, Jedinak, Bolasie, Zaha and Murray ) are when fit still at least core to the team if not first team certainties.

For well over half of our potential starting lineup to hark back to very long time ago in football terms, shows not only how carefully and wisely our owners have invested their transfer funds but also the long term quality of the team put together by Dougie. Even more remarkably, other than Speroni and Zaha, every one of these players was signed by Dougie. 

Much as Dougie's sudden departure was a hammer blow at the time, I continue to wish him all the best in his managerial career and were he ever to return to Selhust Park as an opposition, or even our own, manager (hopefully in the Premier League) I would give a warm welcome for the fantastic legacy of players he left us with.