Signed Crystal Palace 2004/2005 Away Shirt

Some three weeks into April and we are onto our fourth article as part of our Crystal Palace Month series, an exercise in writing and reading to fill the days during the lockdown of Western society. Having started with a home shirt for our first piece, reviewed an away shirt for our second article, and considered another home shirt afterwards, it logically follows that we will once again be looking at one of Palace’ alternatives to the red and blue stripes worn at home. Introducing the 2004/2005 away shirt;

20200408_185713

Given that we’ve already written quite extensively on the club, please give the shirts featured in the last few weeks, as well as the cover article, a closer look via their respective pages;

With last week’s effort chronicling the Admiral shirt of 2003/2004 and the Eagles’ impending switch to Diadora, we’re quite chuffed to be able to present one of two shirts introduced by the Italian suppliers for the 2004/2005 Barclays Premiership season. Arriving in the top flight alongside First Division champions Norwich City and runners-up West Bromwich Albion, play-off winners Palace added a bit of extra colour to the league with their famous red and blue stripes. However, with the presence of quite a few teams that wore either red or blue in the Premiership already, whatever away strip Diadora would come up with was guaranteed a handful of outings.

20200408_185716

White kits have always been popular with the fans, just ahead of yellow tops, and with the latter already being used as away colour for the 2003/2004 season, it was no surprise that Diadora decided to go with white as a primary colour for the Eagles’ new alternative top. Using blue for the sleeves and side panels and red to add a little bit of detail, this kit accounts for both home colours which makes for a somewhat recognizable affair.

For once, the temptation to mash in a sash has been resisted, and that’s quite okay; we love a sash, the fans love a sash, but not every away shirt worn by Palace absolutely needs one.

20200408_185754

The colours naturally complement eachother and look at their best on the sleeve cuffs and collar, where Diadora’s ‘pill’ gimmick (rife in the mid 00’s) provides a break from just the white and blue.

During the 2004/2005 season, Diadora supplied two other teams in the top flight; West Bromwich Albion and Birmingham City, with the latter’s Diadora home shirt actually being the one to kick off Club 25’s collection (even being the very first article to be posted on this site). Both of them had the same pills on their shirts – in white and red for WBA and in black and white for Birmingham. Both sides also had the same application on their collars, albeit Birmingham had a flappy collar and thus looked somewhat distinct from the round crew collars seen on Diadora’s other customers. Just below the Premier League, Leeds United used the pills in yellow and black on their home shirt, and in black and white on their away tops.

20200408_190037

In a pleasing display of synergy, these pills and the collar applications appear on the Palace home shirt of the same season as well, albeit with blue replacing red to ensure they stand out from all the red on that kit (if you’re curious about it, we’ve covered this mostly red home top right here). Do note that the idiosyncratic navy – featuring more prominently on the Le Coq Sportif shirt of 2002 and the Admiral shirt of 2003 – found on the home shirt does not carry over to the away top.

20200408_185725

Diadora only sold player-spec kits in 2004/2005, unlike more recent suppliers like Macron and Puma who fleeced fan with ‘replica’ and ‘authentic fit’ shirts; despite this, we have to note that our copy is marred by some nasty stains across the shoulders which we are keen to wash out soon.

Of course, we can’t simply toss this shirt in the laundry because of it being signed – specifically to one Gareth. Now, Gareth (who we believe we bought this shirt from) was the sponsor for one of Palace’s players that year, and as a reward he was presented with this shirt – signed and all – at the end of year dinner party. This is a common way for clubs to thank their private sponsors, albeit some actually give away matchworn shirts rather than unworn ones like the shirt we have before us today. Palace, unfortunately, opt for the unworn route so we will have to make do with ‘just’ a signature.

20200408_185718

Today’s featured scribble is found just below the Churchill Insurance sponsor outing, and has been applied with a black marker. The squad number 25 is added for posterity’s sake; this is a real lifesaver in some cases, as numbers are a lot easier to decipher and look up than most autographs. Take as an example the recent Huddersfield Town shirt we covered; it’s a tall order matching 15+ signatures to their respective owners when all you have to go on is a heavily stylized bit of writing that may not even reflect the player’s full name or even initials.

As for this individual signature, though, one might not even need the squad number if the memory of the 2004/2005 Palace squad persists; the player’s surname is reasonably legible here, after all.

20200408_185741

Before we turn to the back of the shirt and add a name to that scribble, we’d like to draw your attention to the shirt’s main feature; blue sidepanels that break up the white and run all the way down to a blue hem at the bottom of the shirt. On both sides of the shirt, these panels are accompanied by red mesh which runs all the way up to the armpits to improve ventilation and the evaporation of sweat. Sadly, because of the make of the shirt, the red is mostly covered by white and blue fabric on both sides although it still shyly peeks out from underneath.

20200408_185732

A jocktag, placed on the bottom right of the shirt’s front (much like on Diadora’s Birmingham City shirt) lists the club’s crest alongside its name and Diadora’s arrow logo – which, interestingly enough, doesn’t feature anywhere else on the outside of the shirt! In fact, it didn’t appear on any of the other shirts Diadora supplied Palace with either – despite the association between club and brand running until the end of the 2006/2007 season. For 2005/2006, the Italians’ ‘field of dots’ (as seen here on a Mamelodi Sundowns shirt) did show up on the sleeves, but the arrow – arguably the brand’s most famous logomark – never got further than these jock tags, the sizing stickering inside the shirt, and the socks of the ’05/’06 and ’06/’07 kits.

20200408_185830

Flip the shirt over and we find felt letters and numbers spelling out ‘Hall’, meaning that this shirt caries the name of none other than cult hero Fitz Hall.

Or, as his (in)famous nickname goes, ‘One Size’ Fitz Hall; yes, this is a player you can expect to regularly show up in top ten lists for funniest nickname. We are going to assume no explanation is needed for why the phrase ‘One size Fitz Hall’ is worthy of a chuckle or two. Note our luck at Hall having worn squad number 25 that season – ties in nicely with the name of this site, doesn’t it?

20200408_185827

These are some nice, luxurious applications – player-spec too, if we’re not mistaken (unlike the Diadora shirts, the actual letters and numbers used in the Premier League id have some variations in terms of material). Hall’s name sits below the club’s initials of C.P.F.C. – not the most inspired of details surely, but much preferable over the bare shoulders we saw from Admiral. Avec and Macron, two other former suppliers to Crystal Palace, used this area of their designs to embroider ‘1905’ and ‘Crystal Palace F.C.’ respectively.

117CBAA4-38EF-4BB2-AD26-8BCC7A91535D.jpeg.81611a32de6768421579561ef70b661c

Very few images of Mr. Hall wearing the 2004/2005 away kit remain online some 15 years on from the club’s ill-fated Premiership campaign, so instead enjoy the above photograph of him wearing the 2005/2006 home shirt (a design we are quite fond of) in the Championship.

Fitz Benjamin Hall was born in Leytonstone in 1980 and enjoyed his first success as a young player at famous Sunday League side Senrab, where he impressed the scouts of West Ham United. Snapped up by the Hammers for their academy, the tall defender would never actually wear the claret and blue in competitive action, for he was released after just three seasons. Similarly signing and failing to appear for Barnet, Hall regained firm footing at Chesham United in 2001 to earn a transfer back up the leagues to Oldham Athletic a season later. Impressing once more, Southampton took over his contract to allow the then 22 year old to enjoy eleven Premiership outings in the red and white.

article-2562532-023F87190000044D-93_634x437

It was Palace’ promotion to the top flight, and the resulting financial boost, that proved the impetus for Hall’s return to London as he was bought for one and a half million Pounds in the summer of 2004 – marking a reunion with Iain Dowie who had previously managed the young defender at Oldham.

Hall accumulated 36 league appearances (out of a possible 38) and even netted twice to record a tidy tally for a defender, but was unable to prevent Palace being cruelly relegated on the final day of the season. With the #25 shirt on the field for the full 90 minutes, Palace drew Charlton 2-2 in an especially painful manner as the Eagles had enjoyed leading the score for eleven minutes; had they held on, they would have stayed up whilst West Brom went down.

52829019-e1526502950551

Alas, it was not meant to be; May 15th 2005 proved to be a dark page in the history books of Crystal Palace (and a personal disaster for us, as we would have been content had anyone other than West Brom stayed up). With Dowie’s men leading well into the second half, Charlton drew level in the 82nd minute and as the Eagles were unable to retake the lead, West Brom’s win over Portsmouth landed the Baggies in 17th place ahead of Palace.

It is perhaps ironic; we lamented the fact that the 2003/2004 home shirt had to forego an iconic appearance in that season’s play-off final at Wembley in favour of the yellow away shirt, and close to a full year later another key match – memorable for all the wrong reasons this time around – is played in the away tops. Not that there was much of a choice for Palace’ kitman; Charlton play in full red shirts of course, so Palace’ home top was never an option. As this away fixture at the Valley proved to be so disastrous, few Palace fans will be able to forget this shirt – just like how the yellow away of ’03/’04 is still remembered far better than the average away top worn by the club.

We don’t necessarily recommend this to fans of the club, but if you really want to relive the memories of that sunny day in May, there’s a grainy highlights video on Youtube. From euphoria to dispair in a matter of seconds, as painful now in 2020 as it was in 2005.

That’s just about all you need from us for now, but as always, we would like to remind you that Club 25 is a weekly publication – expect a brand new article from us next week, so keep checking back for when we have a new shirt going live. Additionally, keep up to date with us on our Twitter page and flick through the site’s Shirt Archive to see what shirts we’ve covered in the past.

5 Comments

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s