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Selhurst Park Stadium Tour

Updated: Aug 4, 2023

Hi everyone

Hope you are all well!

On Monday 19th of December, I attended another stadium tour, and it was finally for my team at Selhurst Park – the home of Crystal Palace.

During COVID Crystal Palace gave season ticket members the opportunity to give the money left over from the games that couldn’t be played to the Palace Academy, becoming an Academy Founder Member. As a member we got perks such as attending academy matches at Selhurst free of charge, a block with your name on once the new facilities were built, invite to watch a first team training session and many more. Included was also tours of both the academy (which I will be doing in the near future) and Selhurst Park.

When the tours were announced to the members, I was contacted by a member of the Crystal Palace disabled liaison officers who was able to make sure the correct accessibility requirements were met on the day of the tour. Due to the standard tour not being accessibly I had my own private tour by two members of the Palace staff – Ryan and Patrick who were both great and knowledgeable to answer questions. The stadium had been changed a lot during covid and was about to be changed again with the new stand, so it was a perfect time to do the tour. I got lots of pictures which you can see at the end…

The tour began with us walking through Speroni's Restaurant (named after one of our most iconic players, and still has connections to the club) before reaching Patrick Vieira’s office. This is where he has his pre and post-match meetings with his team before delivering them to the squad, and can watch the early games when wanting too. I was also told that if Vieira is in a good mood after the match he may invite the opposing manager in for a drink from his private bar. The screen in the office was huge and ironically was showing an old game between Arsenal and Liverpool, that Vieira himself was probably playing in.

We were then shown the post-match interview room where the players go to speak to the media immediately after the game. Due to the age of the stadium some doors and corridors were very narrow and didn’t accommodate to my wheelchair, this room for example was impossible to get in but I could see from the door.

Next up was one of the main attractions in the home changing room. This room was given a large renovation during covid making it much larger and modernised, there was lots of red and blue along with ‘South London and Proud’ written on the floor and walls. We tried to work out where Michael Olise would sit as Patrick said they sat in positions with a seat in between, the substitutes sat away from the starting 11 and had less space on the opposite side of the room which was slightly surprising; each seat lifted for the boys to store their stuff safely. Within the changing room there was also a physio room, and shower room containing two ice baths and multiple showers ready for the players. While we were in the room Ryan demonstrated the bell the referees set off when the players need to start going out to the pitch, it was very loud like a school alarm, but I guess it’s a great way to get the players’ alert.

We then actually saw the referee room which was very basic and had wooden benches as seats, this was what the players had before the renovation so a much more comfortable change now! The refs are given food and drink pre and post-game, and also have their own showers (the women have their own down the hall to make them as comfortable as possible). To get to the away dressing room, we actually went out the door where I have met multiple away players such as Jack Grealish, this is because before COVID the away team had a section of the home dressing room, so as you can imagine it used to be very small even for the home team. On the way we briefly saw the tunnel but there were steps, so I wasn’t able to go in it. Now the away dressing room is in a portacabin (which used to be offices for Crystal Palace foundation staff), the exterior was decorated with iconic Palace players such as Jason Puncheon. The dressing room itself was very large, cold and echoey putting the away team at an immediate disadvantage; their shower room only contained four showers slowing their matchday down, although compared to the home team they did have individual cubicles. Displayed in the room was shirts from our opposing teams in the league, with the Brighton shirt rightly so put in the bin 😊. The away team had a direct route out to the pitch reducing the need for them to enter the stadium itself.

The next spot was the press room where Vieira and the opposing manager do their post-match press conferences, and sometimes Vieira will do pre match conferences depending on where the team is training. This room gives the external press a place to both relax and prepare their various content for the match. To get here we had to go through the warehouse for an accessible route, this is where surprisingly all the online orders are dispatched from. On route we saw the photographers’ room where they go pre-match and pick up team sheets, and a kitchen where food is prepared for all press staff including the likes of Gary Neville and Rio Ferdinand. For the press conference there was a selection at the back for the cameramen (which my PA compared to a glass chicken coop), and a selection for the press journalists to write their articles – this is where I aspire to be working in a few years!

The final stop on the tour was the pitch and dugouts. We went in the same entrance I use to get to my seat on a matchday, but this time we were allowed on pitch side. The pitch had heaters on to give the grass some sunlight to help repair it, as it is rare to get it naturally in England! The grass was also being mowed so the smell of freshly cut grass filled the air. We got to see the dugouts and was told some insider information – in the away dugout there is no step under the seat leaving their legs to hang down and impact their blood circulation, this causes the subs to need to warm up more than the home team to keep their blood flowing effectively, yet another home advantage!

This marked the end of the tour, I really enjoyed it and it felt good to be home after the break away. I would recommend football fans to attend once tickets go out to the public to see the historical Selhurst Park stadium and the history of Crystal Palace before the new stand is built!

I will be returning to Selhurst on December 26th for our boxing day fixture against Fulham, so look out for that post!

Thank you for reading

Ellie Xx


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