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April 18, 1962
Johnny Byrne Returns to Palace for
Real Madrid Friendly
When Johnny Byrne transferred to West Ham United on March 8, 1962, Crystal Palace negotiated an additional transfer clause which freed him to return to Selhurst Park to guest for the Glaziers in a prestigious friendly match to mark the official switching on of the club’s new, much improved floodlights.
Today it would be inconceivable for a Premiership club to sign a player with a transfer clause permitting the player to return to his original club to play in a friendly just 48 hours prior to back to back league games. And to play for the full 90 minutes of the friendly. But this is what happened when West Ham signed one of the game’s biggest stars back in the 1960s.
Palace’s board of directors discussed which club should be invited to mark the occasion. The English clubs who were approached all wanted enormous guarantees on top of expenses. Under the direction of chairman Arthur Wait, the board decided to invite the topmost club in Europe.
Crystal Palace who finished the 1961-62 season in 15th place in Division Three successfully enticed Real Madrid who were not just the reigning champions of Europe – but had been champions for five years, which is a record beyond comparison even today.
No one knows quite how Mr Wait persuaded Real, but they came!
The ‘switching on’ was Palace’s biggest Selhurst Park match and was staged on Wednesday April 18, 1962. Surprisingly it was just two weeks prior to Real’s appearance in the 1962 European Cup final against Portuguese giants Benfica in the Olympisch Stadion, Amsterdam.
Johnny Byrne had been a star player in his six year spell with the Glaziers and they required his presence to
help boost the attendance and more importantly
bolster their side against a very strong Real Madrid
For this special game Palace increased their
admission prices and despite reportedly paying Real
a hefty £11,000 appearance fee, made a profit.
A national newspaper’s account of the game reported “afterwards Real coach Miguel Munoz said he was astonished that Johnny Byrne, now with West Ham, had been left out of England’s World Cup party. Real centre half Santamaria agreed: “He was one of the most difficult players to stop I have ever played against.”
Johnny Byrne left guesting for Palace
Andy Smillie former Hammer and scorer v. Real
Rouse (Glazier), McNichol, Little, Long, Wood, Petchey, Brett, Summersby, Byrne, Smillie, Heckman (Lewis)
Araquistain (Vicente), Casao, Miera, Sanchez (Ruiz), Sant Maria (Marquitos), Pachin, Tejada, Del Sol (Pepillo), Di Steffano, Puskas, Gento
Palace Rise to the Ocassion
The Spaniards fielded 10 players, including Gento, Di Stefano and Puskas, who would lose to Benfica in the European Cup final
a fortnight later. On a night of foul
weather the Division Three team rose
to the occasion to narrowly lose 4-3.
Back row: Eddie Werge, Johnny McNichol, Dennis Uphill, Vic Rouse, Bill Glazier, Brian Wood, George Petchey, Terry Long, Roy Little
Seated: Ron Brett, Roy Summersby, Johnny Byrne, Andy Smillie, Ron Heckman, Brian Lewis
Three Ex Hammers Face Real
Byrne scores first West Ham goal
Byrne was not the only player on the pitch that evening with a West Ham connection. The Crystal Palace team also included a trio who had previously worn claret and blue: George Petchey, Ron Brett and Andy Smillie. A memorable night for Smillie as he scored Palace’s second goal. Though Byrne didn’t hit the net, he made Palace’s first goal. It must have been an unusual experience for Byrne to return to south London to don Palace’s specially produced stripped shirts for this floodlit game, and pose in the pre-match team picture with his former team mates.
Two days after the Real Madrid friendly Byrne was back at Upton Park for Good Friday’s league game against Cardiff City. In this his seventh league game for the Hammers, he scored the first of his many goals.
5 Years Later Another West Ham Player Guests for Palace
After a successful five year spell of 206 league and cup appearances netting a highly impressive 108 goals, Johnny Byrne returned to Crystal Palace in February 1967. Two months later and the Glaziers visited France for another friendly this time against Metz. On April 5, 1967 in front of an 8,000 crowd the Glaziers won 3-1 with reliable Johnny grabbing a brace. Yet again a West Ham player made a guest appearance. This time it was the hero from 1965’s European Cup Winners Cup Final, Alan Sealey. Palace were looking for a new striker and Alan was on trial. He didn’t join and soon returned to West Ham to play in their final two Division One fixtures.
Real Madrid’s 2013 Return to Play Another Lower
Fifty one years later and Real Madrid returned to the South of England for another friendly against third league tier opposition. In July 2013 AFC Bournemouth faced the mighty Real who triumphed 6-0. For both friendlies Real reportedly demanded high appearance money. The reported fees highlight the changing commercialisation of the game. In 1962 Palace were reported to have paid £11,000, 51 years later the reported fee had inflated to £750,000.
Mank thanks to Crystal Palace historian's Ian King and Pete Hurn for providing match day memorabilia