There has been a mountainous amount of Palace coverage in the national press over the last day or so, but Dominic Fifield’s feature of Damien Delaney is a truly brilliant piece of sports writing.
The Irish central defender is a notoriously reclusive character, shying away from the requests of print and multimedia journalists from week to week, but with the club gripped by FA Cup fever in the build-up to tomorrow’s clash against Manchester United, the 34-year-old Cork native decided, in a rare moment of weakness, to let his guard down,
The resulting interview is a glorious demonstration of the multi-faceted healing power that England’s national game can have on the soul of those who play and watch it every week, as Delaney guides the Guardian columnist through a tale of setbacks and doubts, before settling down to tell him the story of how he came to join Dougie Freedman at Crystal Palace; a move that was to completely change his personal outlook on the world of professional football.
As an almost ever-present member of Crystal Palace’s back four in recent years, Damo (as he is affectionately known by the Selhurst Park faithful) has seen his fair share of drama on and off the field, but after years of swimming against the figurative tide in a bid to earn the respect of his teammates and coaches, tomorrow evening’s Wembley appearance will serve as a seismic demonstration of his progress following the incredibly dark days that immediately preceded his move to SE25.
Having arrived at the club with next to no fanfare, Delaney’s stay with us has seen him etch his name into club folklore forever more. Whilst no one, including he, would pretend that he is anywhere close to the most gifted of players to ever don a red and blue shirt, his spirit, determination and leadership in recent years has epitomised the collective spirit which has enabled us to kick on at such a pace.
The above feature, acts as the perfect tribute to a man who deserves the respect of each and every football fan across the country. He may not emerge victorious in tomorrow’s FA Cup Final, but you be sure that he’ll willingly die trying.