Since arriving at Crystal Palace last summer, Connor Wickham has split opinion like almost no other player. Adored by some for his obvious potential, he has struggled to win the entirety of the Eagles faithful over, until yesterday.
Having led the line with a sense of real desire throughout the opening hour of yesterday’s FA Cup semi-final against Watford, the former Sunderland man positioned himself on the right-hand side of the penalty area as Pape Souare floated a high cross over from the left wing.
Marked by a far smaller man in Nathan Ake, Wickham thrust himself into the air, before appearing to hang for an eternity in anticipation of the ball reaching his forehead. It was a moment within which time seemed to stand still for the 32,000 or so Crystal Palace fans stationed at the same end of the pitch, watching on in gleeful disbelief as the towering striker connected perfectly with a header that saw the ball arrow beautifully into the bottom left-hand corner of the Watford goal.
The reaction across one half of Wembley Stadium was immense. Having endured the anguish of Troy Deeney’s equaliser just six minutes before, the sense of both relief and jubilation could be felt across the stands. Bodies flew in every direction as Wickham and his teammates sprinted to the corner of the field in celebration.
It was a minute of mass hysteria that will live on in our memories for years to come, added to by the spine-tingling rendition of “We Love You” which followed 30 seconds or so later. There are plenty of neutrals who take great pleasure in pouring scorn on our support, but for those of us in the middle of it, there is no better feeling.
You’ll love every second of this. Enjoy.