Play at Palace: “An experience of a lifetime”

Play at Palace is your opportunity not only to play at Selhurst Park, but to do so alongside some of the club’s most legendary former players. This year’s event is taking place on Saturday 19 May, with bidding still open to secure your place.

We spoke to Graham Orr, a lifelong Palace supporter, who took part in 2017.

Graham Orr with Julian Speroni on the pitch

Why did you sign up to Play at Palace 2017?

During a meeting with the Foundation Management team, I heard about the Play at Palace event which was about to be launched. As an avid fan and season ticket holder, the thought of actually playing on the pitch at Selhurst Park with some of the Palace legends really excited me. This together with raising money for the young people in our community through the Foundation made the decision easy for me… despite not having played competitive football for about 25 years!

Can you describe the atmosphere of the day?

The atmosphere on the day was fantastic. From driving through the gates with my family, to meeting up with all the other families in the lounge (and relieved to see a couple of people my age excited at the thought of playing), to walking into the dressing room seeing my kit hanging up with my name on it, the motivating team talk by my manager for the day Eddie McGoldrick, and that was all before we stepped onto the pitch!

Actually running out on the pitch, which I have looked down on over the years (with my son and daughter as mascots), was quite emotional, especially with my family in the stand. The Foundation team did absolutely everything before, during, and after the match to ensure that we all had a memorable day.

As his mascots, Graham’s children had the opportunity to sit in the Palace dugout

What was the highlight of your experience at Play at Palace?

I could easily say all of it, however actually playing (and lasting) the match in front of my family and the crowd was an experience of a lifetime. We have just finished decorating our house and pride of place will be my framed shirt, and photos of my day as a permanent reminder.

Would you encourage others to take part this year?

Absolutely. I looked around the dressing room and seeing the excitement on all these grown men at the prospect of playing on the pitch is something I will never forget. In addition to this it’s for an extremely good cause!

As a Palace fan, is supporting Palace for Life Foundation important to you and why?

Most certainly. I am fortunate to work with the Palace for Life Foundation and the appeal was easy. The work they do in our community is second to none, and I am proud to be associated with the Foundation and indeed Palace.

To get involved in the 2018 event, all you have to do is bid for a position in one of two teams for the first or second half. If the bidding passes £250 for any one position, the winning bidder can have their name printed on the back of their shirt and keep the whole kit afterwards.

Successful bids will also enjoy the full player experience, walking down the tunnel, having their kit laid out for them in the changing rooms and enjoying team talks and tactics from their managers. After the match, both squads can enjoy a drink together and watch the FA Cup on the big screen at the annual Crystal Palace Beer Festival, for which all players will receive free entry.

Last year Play at Palace raised over £12,000, helping to inspire young people living in south London to find a better path in life, for a better life – and this year we hope to raise even more!

Bid today for your chance to take part in this truly unique experience on 19 May.

To find out more information about Play at Palace, please visit the auction website here or get in touch with the team at fundraising@palaceforlife.org