Simon Jordan and how he took Palace on a self-promotion run

JAMES DALY, of Five-Year Plan Fanzine, reviews the autobiography of Crystal Palace’s perma-tanned former chairman

Oh Simon Jordan. The man we all loved to hate when he was Palace chairman. The Widow Twanky of the pantomime world that is modern football. He can no longer stay out of the limelight than half the Premier League footballers can stay out of Jenny Thompson.

And after a few months away from being the centre of attention, the Orange One is back with a book of his memoirs from 10 years as chairman of The Eagles and, as expected, it’s full of stories of which I’m guessing about 60 per cent are true.

For example, he claims that stewards at Selhurst Park used to let in “hundreds” of their friends for free on match days. Even if that was true, I’d be surprised if any of the turnstile operators at Palace could convince 10 of their friends it was worth coming to watch games at Selhurst, let alone a hundred.

Not to mention that the book is littered with factual errors that a man who claims to have a keen passion for Palace should have spotted: claiming to have signed Danny Butterfield and Shaun Derry in the summer of 2003 when it was a year earlier and that Dazza scored the winner against Preston in August 2002 when it was the very un-Derry looking Steve Kabba.

Still, when your mind has been warped by years of peroxide hair dye seeping down into your skull, perhaps a few mistakes are forgivable.

Despite the book reading like it’s been written by a teenage foreign exchange student who has penned it in his original language and then fed it through an English translator (at least an indication that Jordan did actually write this himself), there is some very entertaining content.

He exposes the sheer buffoonery of some of the suits running the game at the top end and by standing up to organisations like the FA shines a light on some incredibly inept workings behind the scenes. It’s more through bloody mindedness and pride than anything else but it’s clear that without people like him standing up for what they perceive to be wrongdoings, things wouldn’t change.

There is also insight into some of the dealings with agents, other clubs and players that is the sort that football fans haven’t heard of before, and it leaves certain characters in a less than glowing light (certainly David Gold at Birmingham City). It’s clear that during his spell Jordan rubbed more people up the wrong way than a bad masseuse.

The “Orange One”: seems to have written his autobiography looking through rose-tinted shades

It’s a clear sign of a man who went about things the wrong way; he refused to go into boardrooms at other clubs because he didn’t like other chairmen and was worried about ridicule. Compare that to the current owners CPFC2010 who have talked about building relationships with other clubs through matchday boardroom chats.

Jordan even admits some potential player sales – like Dean Ashton from Crewe – were scuppered by players’ and managers’ dislike of himself.

There is also the infamous court case with former Palace manager Iain Dowie who lied about wanting to move to the north of England to be closer to his family before moving to Charlton, precisely six miles north of Selhurst. Jordan sued Dowie and won a landmark case, one that is now used as an example case for trainee lawyers. It’s clear Jordan was, again, acting out of a sense of rightfulness and it’s hard to criticise that, even if he does use it as a case to blow industrial revolution amounts of smoke up his (presumably bleached) arsehole.

The book is as close as you’ll get to a conversation with Jordan, in that it reads just like a conversation with Simon repeating himself numerously, mostly to remind the readers that he “rallied against agents”, that he “didn’t go looking for trouble, just didn’t avoid it” and that he “invested millions of pounds into Palace”. Yes. We know. Move on.

He also claims credit for everything good that ever happened at Palace between 2000 and 2010. From being the one who suggested signing Andy Johnson in 2002 to claiming to have bought Selhurst Park back from Ron Noades in 2006 (which turns out to not be quite true). It’s a wonder he didn’t claim he actually scored the goal in 2004 that took Palace to the Premier League.

But among the self-promotion, the myriad wise cracks (that aren’t wise or cracking) there is a very interesting sneak peak into the soul of a lost, confused, lonely man who did genuinely think he was doing right by the world. And it’s hard to hate that man.

  • Be Careful What You Wish For, by Simon Jordan, published by Yellow Jersey Press, £18.99
  • This is an edited version of a review first published on FYP. Click here for more
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