Crystal Palace fan of the year revealed
Andrew Carey – voted Crystal Palace’s fan of the year – has certainly put the miles in supporting the Eagles.
The 44-year-old has missed just six games home and away since 1983, travelled around the world for pre-season friendlies and spent the best part of £100,000 following Palace wherever they went.
He has every home programme since 1946 and every away programme since 1960 in a museum in his house and, during the 1990s helped organise supporters’ coaches and sold tickets for the 1990 FA Cup final.
He has been to 108 league grounds and 70 non-league grounds in support of Palace and, despite the many lows that have accompanied the highs in the past three decades, he would not have it any other way.
“My first game was 1977, Palace against Fulham at home and I think we lost from memory,” he said.
“I was 10 at the time and I do not remember much, but I think George Best broke Ian Evans’s leg.
“We went up in 78-79 and we went to a few more games then and since 1980 it has gone on from there.
“I wasn’t supposed to go without my dad but my mate and I said we were going to the park and snuck up to Palace instead.
“Of the six games I have missed, two have been for births and four for weddings – one of which was my own and I had an earpiece in listening to the first game of our 89-90 season at QPR, QPR scored just as my wife Nikki was coming up the aisle.
“When you are on your way back from Burnley after a 3-0 defeat on a Tuesday night you have to question your sanity, but then you just get on with it and move on to the next one.
“You get to know so many people at Palace it is like a second family.
“It’s not like supporting Liverpool or Manchester United where you are just one of a number, at Palace you will walk through the car park and know everyone, it’s a friendly club.”
Carey has also taken part in the last two charity walks – the latest a 50-mile trip to Reading last month that has raised £5,000 for the Geoff Thomas Foundation supporting leukaemia and lymphoma research.
But it is the museum in his Sandhurst home that catches the eye the most.
“Over the years I have picked up lots of shirts and things and it can take over the house,” he added.
“We got an extension done and there was a bit off the kitchen in an L shape – it was perfect for a utility room but I managed to negotiate it for use as my room.
“I have about 100 pictures in there and all my programmes bounded up.
“There is Ian Wright’s signed cup final shirt from when he scored the two goals and the replay cup final shirt signed by Mark Bright.
“It is like my man’s room and sometimes I go in there and have a little talk with myself before or after the day’s game.”
Carey will be presented with his award at this Saturday’s player of the year dinner at Selhurst Park.
Michelle Rodger: Has not missed a Palace game for 11 years and is a founder of the focus groups between fans and Palace. She also co-organises the Palace supporters sponsored charity walks, which have raised £15,000 for charity.
Danny Foley: The landlord of the Whitehorse pub, who grew up 75m from Selhurst Park, has turned it into a Palace shrine full of memorabilia. He has raised nearly £200,000 through charity events such as the bungee jump Palace player David Wright and the Crystal Girls did in August.
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