Where Are They Now? #7 – Crystal Palace’s Last Premier League Opening Day (2004-05)

The latest edition of “Where Are They Now?” is the first of three parts in preparation for the opening day of the Premier League season. We look at the three promoted sides last opening day sides in the top flight. Up first, play-off winners Crystal Palace who squared off against Norwich…


Julian Speroni (Goalkeeper)


Argentinian stopper Speroni was making his league debut for Palace following his move from Scottish club Dundee. His first few seasons were a struggle due to losing his place after only a few games of the 2004-05 season to Gabor Kiraly and being kept out of the side for the next couple of seasons because of the Hungarian. Following Kiraly’s departure in the summer of 2007, Speroni became undisputed number 1 and went on to become Player of the Year at Palace for the next 3 seasons and has made over 300 appearances for the club to date.

Emmerson Boyce (Defender)


Another making his league debut in this game, Boyce joined Palace from his first club Luton Town. Stayed with Palace following relegation and went on to make 77 appearances for the Eagles before he returned to Premier League level with Wigan in the summer of 2006. Has played more than 200 times (to date) with the Latics and was part of the FA Cup winning side. Plays internationally for Barbados and has done since 2008 making 4 appearances.

Tony Popovic (Defender)


Australian centre back Popovic was an experienced campaigner for Palace, having joined them in 2001 from Japanese side Sanfrecce Hiroshima. Played 21 times for Palace in the Premier League and is perhaps most remembered for his outstanding own goal against Portsmouth. Left Palace at the end of his contract in 2006 and joined Al-Arabi in Qatar for a year before returning to hometown team Sydney FC until his retirement in November 2008. He managed 58 caps and 8 goals for Australia between 1995 and 2006 and appeared at the 2006 World Cup. He was appointed the assistant manager at Sydney FC immediately following his retirement which he was until February 2011 when he returned to Crystal Palace as assistant to Dougie Freedman. Left in May 2012 to become head coach of the Western Sydney Wanderers who he lead to the Premiers Plate which won him Coach of the Year.

Mark Hudson (Defender)


Signed permanently following a loan spell at the end of the 2003-04 season from Fulham, Hudson only managed 7 Premier League appearances in the 2004-05 season. Following Palace’s relegation in 2005 he began to earn more and more playing time before his departure on a free transfer to Charlton in the summer of 2008. Charlton were relegated at the end of the season and Hudson left for current side Cardiff. Hudson was made captain almost immediately and became a key part of the Cardiff side that fell short in the play-offs twice. Captained the side to promotion in 2013.

Danny Granville (Defender)


Signed from Manchester City in late 2001, left back Granville was a key member of the Palace side in the Premier league and was booked against Norwich. Played more than 130 games for Palace before leaving in 2007 for Colchester United. He was released after a poor season and joined Leyton Orient. Lasted less than a season before being released by Orient. Signed for current side Hemel Hempstead Town in October 2009.

Wayne Routledge (Midfielder)


Winger Routledge was a product of the youth system at Palace and an ever present for the Eagles in the Premier League. His form earned him a move to Tottenham following Palace’s relegation in 2005 but his time at White Hart Lane was a huge failure as he only managed 5 league appearances in 3 years and had unimpressive spells on loan at Portsmouth and Fulham. Joined Villa in January 2008 but only played 2 times in the league and had a spell on loan at Cardiff before joining QPR in January 2009. His spell at QPR alerted Newcastle and he joined them in January 2010 in their push for promotion back to Premier League. Joined QPR on loan in January 2011 before he moved to current club Swansea in the summer of 2011.

Michael Hughes (Midfielder)


Northern Irish midfielder Hughes signed for Palace in 2003 from Birmingham City and was captain for the Premier League season. Stayed with Palace following relegation before joining Coventry in 2007. Released after just a year before he wound down his career as player-coach at non-league St Neots Town. Played 71 times for Northern Ireland, scoring 5 times between 1991 and 2004. Currently a co-owner of his first club, Carrick Rangers.

Fitz Hall (Defender)


Centre back Hall was making his debut for Palace after signing from Southampton and was played alongside Hughes in the centre of midfield. Stayed with Palace following relegation until, like Boyce, he joined Wigan in 2006. Poor form, suspensions and injury meant that Hall’s spell with the Latics was not great and he left for QPR in January 2008. He was a regular for most of his QPR career (barring a short spell on loan at Newcastle in 2010) before he joined current club Watford in July 2012.

Joonas Kolkka (Midfielder)


Finn Kolkka joined Palace from Borussia Monchengladbach in the summer of 2004 and was a regular for Palace on the left wing. He was released following Palace’s relegation in 2005 and returned to Holland for spells with ADO Den Haag, Feyenoord, Willem II and NAC Breda in 7 years. Finished his career with a short spell in America with Texas Dutch Lions before retiring in 2012. A Finland international, Kolkka earned 98 caps and scored 11 goals between 1994 and 2010. Most recently did some youth coaching at former club PSV.

Andrew Johnson (Striker)


Striker Johnson signed from Birmingham in 2002 and quickly became key for Palace. He top scored for Palace in the Premier League with 21 goals, including on opening day against Norwich, and stayed with them following relegation. He left in 2006 for Everton and while he continued to score he wasn’t quite as prolific as at Palace. He joined Fulham in 2008 for a fee around £10 million and started well before he became blighted with knee problems. He was released in the summer of 2012 and joined current club QPR. He played just 3 games for them before missing the rest of the season due to injury. Johnson has also been capped 8 times for England between 2005 and 2007.

Sandor Torghelle (Striker)


Hungarian striker Torghelle was signed in the summer of 2004 from MTK Budapest and was a massive failure. He failed to score in the Premier League and was shipped off to Panathinaikos following relegation. He left Palace permanently in 2006 for PAOK in Greece and since then has embarked on a number of different clubs such as Carl Zeiss Jena, FC Augsburg and Fortuna Dusseldorf in Germany and Budapest Honved and current club Videoton in Hungary. Torghelle played 42 times for Hungary between 2004 and 2010 scoring 11 goals.


Gabor Kiraly (Goalkeeper)


Another Hungarian, Kiraly (famous for wearing trousers instead of shorts) was signed in the summer of 2004 from Hertha Berlin and was an unused substitute against Norwich. He quickly became number 1 and stayed with Palace following relegation. Stated his intention to leave in 2006 but only got short loan spells at West Ham and Aston Villa as injury cover. Released by Palace in the summer of 2007, he joined Burnley where he didn’t play as much and even had a short loan at German giants Bayer Levekusen as injury cover. Joined 1860 Munich in the summer of 2009 and still plays there today. Kiraly has played 89 times for Hungary to date since his debut in 1998.

Aki Riihilahti (Midfielder)


Signed from Norwegian side Valerenga in 2001, defensive midfielder (and journalist nightmare) Riihilahti came on after 78 minutes for countryman Joonas Kolkka. He was a regular throughout the Premier League season and stayed at the club post relegation. However, injuries disrupted his season and he left Palace in the summer of 2006 on a free to join Kaiserslautern in Germany. He moved on to Swedish side Djuardens the following summer before returning to first club HJK Helsinki in 2009. He finished his career there in 2011. Riihilahti played 69 times for Finland, scoring 11 goals between 1998 and 2007. Post retirement, Riihilahti has done some coaching as well as writing a newspaper column in Finland.

Tommy Black (Midfielder)


Signed from Arsenal in 2000, Black was the other unused substitute in the squad. Black played over 120 times for Palace and had spells on loan while at the club at Sheffield United, Gillingham and Bradford City. He was released by Palace in the summer of 2007 and since has had spells at Southend, Stevenage, Grays Athletic, Barnet, Hemel Hempstead Town, AFC Hornchurch and current side Debden Sports Club in the Essex Olympian League.

Dougie Freedman (Striker)


Scottish striker Freedman was in his second spell at Palace (he resigned in 2000 from Nottingham Forest) and was a late substitute for Hughes. His playing time in the Premier League was due to Johnson’s form and meant that he only got 1 goal but he always remained loyal and was still an effective impact player after relegation. His first team football got extremely sparse towards the end of his time at Palace and he spent part of 2008 on loan at Leeds. He joined Southend in the summer of 2008 and finished his career there in 2010. Freedman only played 2 games for Scotland in 2001 and 2002 but did manage a goal against Latvia. Post playing, Freedman began coaching (which he had combined with his playing career towards the end) before getting his first managerial job at Palace, first guiding them away from relegation in 2011 then overseeing a League Cup run that included victory at Old Trafford and getting Palace near the top of the league at the start of the 2012/13 season. He joined current club Bolton in October 2012 and guided them from near the bottom to just missing out on the play-offs.

Shaun Derry (Midfielder)


Tough tackling midfielder Derry was signed from Portsmouth in 2002 and was another late substitute, this time for Hall. Derry struggled for game time in the Premier League and was loaned out to Nottingham Forest near the end of 2004 which lead to a permanent move to Leeds United in early 2005. Derry soon established himself as a key member of the Leeds side that reached the play offs in 2006. He left Leeds for Crystal Palace, first on loan in November 2007, then permanently in January 2008. He was appointed captain in 2009 after Hudson’s departure. Derry left Palace in the summer of 2010 for QPR where he still plays.

Iain Dowie (Manager)


Taking over Palace in December 2003, Dowie led the club from 19th to promotion in mere months. Although he couldn’t prevent relegation, Dowie remained with the club and almost guided them back up through the play-offs. He left in May 2006 before joining Charlton 8 days later. A legal case ensued which Dowie lost. His time at Charlton was not a success and he was sacked in December 2006. Dowie became manager of Coventry in February 2007 but only lasted a year before leaving. His next post was at QPR where he lasted just 15 games before he joined the coaching staff at Newcastle for a short time. His last managerial job was at Hull City but he could not prevent the Tigers from relegation out of the Premier League and he left in May 2010. He is a regular pundit for Sky Sports.

There is the first of three parts of this opening day special. Hopefully you enjoyed it and leave any feedback here, on Twitter or via email (details in the about section)



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