Chris O (follow on Twitter: @COakleyFtbl)
Thu 15 September 2011

Badge Focus: Crystal Palace

Following our previous article where we discussed the successes and failures of clubs to redesign their badges, we begin an occasional series where we look in greater depth at the high and low points in badge design for specific teams.

Here we begin with Crystal Palace, a club formed 106 years ago in the southern part of London and currently a fixture in the Championship. Tempting though it is to marvel at their myriad kit designs down the years, we’ll instead begin with a look at Palace’s first club badge worn in 1955. Having had the letters ‘CPFC’ stitched into their shirts for the previous 20 years, the Selhurst Lane club changed tack with a new design showing the facade of the old Crystal Palace building, site of the 1851 Great Exhibition. As mid-50’s badges go, this was a very nice example of how to use composition and simple styling to create an easily recognisable ‘brand’.

The new crest remained in place (albeit in modified form latterly) until 1964 when Palace played Real Madrid in a commemorative match to formally celebrate the arrival of their new floodlights. The kit became all-white for two seasons and the shirt was adorned with what can only be described as a baffling half-shield in blue and red. Looking like something that fell off the tail fin of a French Air Force warplane, this surreal attempt at a badge didn’t make it past 1966 and probably with good reason.

After a season where no club badge appeared on the shirts at all, Crystal Palace went old skool in 1967 by having the team name embroidered in gold script stitching. In 1972, however, a badge was called for once again and a circular creation arrived, complete with claret-coloured ring with an angular light-blue ‘CP’ in the middle. Palace’s name featured in the outer circle, as was their nickname at the time - ‘The Glaziers’. A distinctive moniker and a pleasing, if slightly unimaginative, badge too, but both would be gone by the tail end of 1973.

The reason for the change in mid-season can be attributed to one man – Malcolm Allison. He arrived as manager at Selhurst Park four months into the 1973/74 season and decided that Palace were in need of reinvention. At a stroke he got rid of the club’s colours (claret and blue for as long as anyone could remember), the club’s nickname (opting for the altogether more inspiring ‘Eagles’) and that minimalist badge.

In its place came a replacement in the new colour-scheme of red and blue featuring a swooping eagle landing on a football, with the words ‘Crystal Palace Football Club’ running in circular formation around them. A considerable improvement for sure, and although it wasn’t enough to stop Palace dropping briefly into the Third Division, it did set the club on a more positive bearing for the seasons that followed.

Though the team’s fortunes fluctuated regularly, the badge remained constant until 1987 when a coming together of old and new created the emblem that has remained virtually intact ever since. Out went the circular motif and in its place came an image of the glass fronted Crystal Palace building that was last used in the 1960’s. The overall arrangement proved popular and had a unique appearance that stood out easily from the crowd.

Strangely enough, a little tweaking was called for in 2006, and not necessarily in a good way either. Firstly, the dynamic swooping eagle was replaced with a standing eagle whose body was facing in the opposite direction. Secondly the ball upon which it was perched was updated from the 1960’s long-patch style to the 1970’s Adidas Telstar. Now surely if you were going to change the appearance of a football on your club badge, you’d take advantage of the situation and bring it more fully up-to-date, wouldn’t you? Apparently not if you're Crystal Palace.

Aside from that, there’s also a bit of a question mark over the patchy shading on the eagle itself, too. For some reason, it looks rather patchy, as though it’s been photocopied and then that photocopy has been photocopied and so on to the point where all the detail has been lost.

Anyway, that’s how the badge currently stands although if you type in ‘Crystal Palace badge’ into Google, you’ll find numerous alternatives designed by amateurs that almost without fail look better. Admittedly some of them look like they’ll probably be considered ‘of their time’ within 10 years, but it’s proof if it were needed that it is possible to find better if you look hard enough. Perhaps a complete rebrand might be considered in the near future, and that, in my view, wouldn’t be such a bad thing at all.

But all that said, which of the badges above is your personal favourite? We'd love to hear your thoughts so please leave a comment at the end of this post or alternatively, why not take part in our little online poll we've got running. It'll be interesting to see what you think!

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