Being back in the UK over Christmas also meant that I could head back to Selhurst Park to take in the fantastic EPL action available at Crystal Palace. Before I went to university, my dad and I used to have season tickets at Palace, and for the majority of the time that meant enduring watching turgid dross as Palace regularly fought (and escaped) relegation fights at the bottom of Division 1. Particular favourites included losing at home to Grimsby and the foggy night we were 3-1 down to Crewe, when after an hour the crowd started willing the fog to thicken so the match would have to be abandoned.
This season, we are fighting relegation from the Premier League instead, and rather than the northern giants we welcomed Southampton to Selhurst on Boxing Day. Although it was a different league, we put in a similar performance to days of yore and were 3-0 down soon after half time. Although we pulled one back later in the second half through Scott Dann, the disappointing display was enough to result in the sacking of manager Neil Warnock the following morning.
A couple of days later, I headed to Alexandra Palace for the darts. Fast becoming more mainstream in the UK, a night at the darts is one of the best nights out you’ll have. This year was fourth or fifth time I’ve been, but my first time seeing the greatest player who ever lived Phil Taylor. When you buy tickets back in June, you obviously have no idea who you’ll actually see on the night; in previous years, I’ve experienced previous world champions such as Barney, Part and Priestley and this year on the night we went we got to see the 16-time champ Taylor and 2-time champ Adrian Lewis, so were pretty lucky in that respect!
A lot of the night is about the drinking, and it’s not uncommon for people to buy pitchers of beer rather than pints. After a while, it becomes hard to even make out the players on the stage let alone the darts they’re throwing! The atmosphere in the crowd is what makes the evening, with everyone contributing and waiting for the elusive 9 dart perfect finish, or more common the classic 180 shot. Will definitely be back next time I’m home!