“Zaha, OH YES!”
Those were the words uttered by Bill Leslie as Crystal Palace’s talisman buried his second goal against arch rivals Brighton in the 2013 Championship play-off semi-final to send Crystal Palace to Wembley. Four years, 6 months and 15 days later, the two sides finally meet again tonight at the Amex.
And Wilfried Zaha is well up for it. When asked how much he hates Brighton on a scale of 0-10 at a signing event in Boxpark Croydon last Tuesday, the winger answered “11” without hesitation. Later speaking to Palace TV, he recalled: “Everyone thought we were probably going to lose [that game in 2013]. Winning that game is probably the highlight of my Crystal Palace career.”
Oblivious to the extent of the levels of hatred between the teams, Palace loanee Ruben Loftus-Cheek has since admitted to having to be educated about the rivalry by certain members of the squad. He explained: “A few of the players have been educating me on the rivalry.”
“I didn’t even know, so when Wilf said that I was like ‘okay, they don’t like each other then’, so I’m looking forward to playing in it.”
— Crystal Palace F.C. (@CPFC) November 28, 2017
While there is no real geographical reason for this rivalry to exist, the feud was sparked by a series of FA Cup first round replays in the 1976/77 season when Terry Venables and Alan Mullery were managing Palace and Brighton respectively. The pair were teammates…