RAVEN MACK is a mystic poet-philosopher-artist of the Greater Appalachian unorthodox tradition. He does have an amazing PATREON, but also *normal* ARTIST WEBSITE too.

Wednesday, March 15

25-Man Metaphysical Roster: Crystal Palace F.C.

(the infamous magical Crystal Palace, ages before immigration)

[25-Man Metaphysical Roster is a football dork methodology meant to establish a listing of players who have been most active for English Premier League teams in their past 100 non-friendly matches. Essentially, it is calculated by minutes played, but weighted towards most recent games. The end result is a listing of the 25 players in a team’s recent history who have had the largest hand on their metaphysical sporting trajectory. The English Premier League was chosen because it is the highest level of football played in an English speaking country, and I speak English. Also, it is what comes on TV here in the USA, where I fucking live. Should I not fail in maintaining my unpaid deadline, a new 25-Man Metaphysical Roster will appear on the 1st and 15th of every month.]

Crystal Palace sounds fairly magical, thus I have never held any meaningless grudges against them, even as they slog it out with my beloved Swansea City in the relegation zone of 2017. That’s one of the great things about relegation zone as opposed to relegation slot – there’s enough shitty teams to hate on to properly fill out the bottom 3… it allows you freedom to not hate everybody indiscriminately (although I must admit I am excited for Newcastle United to return to top-flight next year so I can more actively hate on them again). Being I am not an actual Englishman (insha’Allah!), I do not know the deeper histories, or that there was an actual Crystal Palace built in South London at one point which housed an infamous wizard who experimented with Tesla-like technologies, but on footballers instead of the electrical grid. But I just read about on the internet, so hey, fuck yeah Crystal Palace!
They currently sit one point above the drop zone, with eleven games left. Here are the 25 motherfuckers who have imposed their presence upon the team the past 100 non-friendly matches the most according to my dork science metric…
#1: JOEL WARD – Classic English defender, born in fake sounding place called Emsworth, and as a child kidnapped by Turkish child slavers, but the Crystal Palace wizard rescued him in parallel aether universe, blessing Ward with strong inclinations towards defense (channeling fetal curl during kidnapping saga into physical acts of the same but with intense emotion as cathartic release of the trauma), which led to him making it to Premier League level as versatile center back who can fill in at other spots when necessary, and holding Crystal Palace down on the backside, perhaps forever, due to fealty to their founding wizard.
#2: DAMIEN DELANEY – The old dude on Palace’s defensive line, who played big role in their promotion from Football Championship three years ago. Probably on metaphysical level, not much better to have as anchoring spirit center back than aging (he’s 35) Irishman like Delaney. Surviving relegation is not an act of finesse (see Newcastle United last year) but a fucking slog. And nothing’s sloggier in the British Isles than cagey veteran Irish fuckers.
#3: WILFRED ZAHA – Zaha joined Crystal Palace youth academy as a pre-teen, where he learned the dark arts of English colonial attack to combine with his native Ivorian flair for strike. He suffered colonial exile at Manchester United, where footballers with potential value are sometimes stockpiled on shelves ten-deep to sit there and see if the dust accumulating gives their previous shine an even more marketable industrial “Manchester” shine, or if it just dulls them to the art of football. Zaha only dulled, but luckily was rescued as well by the Crystal Palace wizard, allowing him return to the footballing home of his youth, where he has remained ever since.
#4: SCOTT DANN – Dann is Crystal Palace’s captain, and has anchored their defense for the past four seasons. He is their captain because he has a properly generic Football Manager newgen sounding name, and also he looks like every fucking Englishman who plays defense at Premier League or Football Championship-level. All these things are important to the drunken slobs who buy jerseys.
#5: JASON PUNCHEON – Puncheon has already been playing for a million years, yet is only 30, which is how the world’s football works, because the university talent system is not propped up by corrupt godheads (like American football, aka the Game of the Egg). Puncheon’s story for the past decade was mostly one of those weird ones only found in football where you are talented enough to be held onto as a talent, but not talented enough to actually play where you are owned. He was contracted to Plymouth Argyle from 2008 through 2010, yet only appeared 6 times for them, instead going on loan three times to MK Dons. Then he got sold to Southampton, where he spent four seasons, and yes, did feature there, but also suffered four loan spells in five seasons there as well (including to godforsaken Millwall, which one can only assume must’ve been hellish for a winger-of-color). But it got him to Crystal Palace, where he has been at home since August of 2013.
#6: WAYNE HENNESSEY – Although currently only 30 years old, Hennessey was Tupac Shakur’s absolute favorite GK, getting name dropped constantly in the dead rapper’s songs. Hennessey, being a Welshman, suggested to Tupac a strong defensive nature (as GK would suggest) but also fierce sense of independence, as any good Welshman would claim. The bright ass colors GKs wear was just day-glo icing on the cake.
#7: YOHAN CABAYE – Cabaye is a French guy who has played for the French national team, which is operated by the Federation Francaise de Football, which is FFF on their branded gear. FFF is also what old dirtbag metalheads wrote on their dirtweed-smelling jean jackets back in the American South days before they became dirtgods, because F is the 6th letter of the alphabet, and whenever you are fucked up but trying to be clever about it, you use letters for numbers or numbers for letters. This is why I always list my address as “1312” whenever giving a fake address.
#8: JAMES MCARTHUR – McArthur is the rare Scottish player of note who never went through either Celtic or Rangers, instead coming up as a youth in Hamilton Academical, which is one of the illest sounding team names you will find. How did he end up at Crystal Palace? It was actually at Hamilton Academical that the Crystal Palace wizard first learned his supernatural arts back in the mid-18th century. (Also, apparently as a youth, McArthur did play for Rangers-associated teams, which required extensive sage ceremonies to cleanse him of scumfuckery before he could succeed at Crystal Palace.)
#9: MARTIN KELLY – I waited until late to do this 25 listing’s idiot blurbs, so I’m forced to sneak peeks at Wikipedia pages while pretending to do work (open excel spreadsheet, lots of colors on one monitor, looks productive as fuck, like I’m calculating North Korean nuclear codes), and the wiki page for Kelly says he attended a place called “St. Aelred’s Catholic Technology College” which sounds fake as fuck. In fact, the wiki page has inserted “citation needed” for this tidbit. So I looked it up… and it’s a real place, whose most notable alum is Rick Astley. That felt too internetty to be real as well, so I started digging deeper in the dark web, and there was a lot of speculative information about child slavery and also for some reason a school shooting (in England?) was thwarted by an FBI tip-off, which makes me wonder why the fuck the FBI is involved? Anyways, the whole thing started to feel illuminati as fuck, and I got worried, and sure enough the black duct tape on my home computer camera was removed. Like sure, maybe my kids were taking funny pictures of each other with it, but also nobody was here all afternoon so I know what the fuck is up. The tentacles of the beast intertwine into seemingly coincidental networks, but shadow dwellers know what the fuck is up, and also know Rick Astley is an MK-Ultra conditioning trigger.
#10: JOE LEDLEY – I would like to like Joe Ledley because he’s a bearded Welshman who by all intents and purposes appears to be a chill dude. The problem is he came through Cardiff City’s youth ranks as well as their main team, and thus due to sworn corporate tribalism grudges, I am forced to feel disdain for him, even though I had no idea about any of this before ten minutes ago. Apparently he cleaned Cardiff City’s then captain’s cleats while he was still a trainee at Cardiff City, and even was forced to do so after breaking through to the first team. They say this was to keep his ego in check, but I imagine it being Cardiff it was more likely to demoralize him completely in the same way a pimp does a prostitute (which to be honest is what I imagine almost any top-quality youth academy does).
#11: PAPE SOURE – Senegalese left fullback who scored his one and only international goal last year around this time during an African Cup of Nations qualifier against Niger, which is the absolute most difficult and scary country to teach children about when doing world geography as home schoolers, because you really don’t want them to fuck that one up.
#12: CHRISTIAN BENTEKE – Benteke is Congolese, and fled to Belgium when that weird twitter dude @mobute took over the country. (He’s a shitty writer, by the way.) The colonial history of Africa in general but Democratic Republic of Congo (artist formerly known as Zaire) in particular is deeply fascinating to me, because the Belgians absolutely fucked up Zaire/Congo. And yet, due to the networks put in place, that was the best place for a family to flee in the early ‘90s. On top of this, certain European teams (Belgium and France being the two most obvious examples) are still benefit greatly from absconding with the top talent from their former colonial states. Remember when Pele said Africa would win the World Cup? That shit ain’t happening so long as European nations continue cherry-picking the best talent (both at club and national level, tbh). Anyways, last season Benteke was with Liverpool, which meant I was kinda meh about him, but when a prominent African player becomes top striker for a lower-part-of-the-table Premier League team, I’m gonna be hype for that dude. I’d rock the fuck out of a customized DRC Benteke jersey.
#13: ANDROS TOWNSEND – Andros went to Tottanham’s youth academy at age 8. AGE FUCKING 8! When I was 8, well I wasn’t shit. Probably why I’m still not shit. I guess it’s like a shitty internet hack writer once said to me, “that why you are what you are.”
#14: JAMES TOMKINS – Okay, even crazier is Tomkins was seen playing for local youth team at age 7, and then signed into West Ham United’s youth academy. Age fucking 7. He spent all of his professional career (outside of one loan spell with Derby County) with the Hammers, until signing with Crystal Palace this past July. He also once got in a fight with a cop while resisting arrest while drunk, so he’s good peeps.
#15: YANNICK BOLASIE – Bolasie spent four seasons fully winging it up for Palace, and also is Congolese (but born in France). Get this though – he actually played for DR Congo at the international level! Shocking I know. He signed with Everton this past August though. Why are so many Congolese players moving through the Crystal Palace though? What sort of footballing arts hybridization is being cultivated there?
#16: MILE JEDINAK – Jedinak was a supporters’ favorite in his five seasons at Palace, wearing the captain’s armband up until beginning of this season, which was the writing on the wall for him to transfer to Aston Villa down to Championship level. Supporters were clamoring for his return this past January transfer window as Crystal Palace was lodged firmly in relegation zone muck (and still only a single point clear as of right now). His name is a singular unit of measure.
#17: CONNOR WICKHAM – Wickham’s a young fucker, only 23, whose already gotten in 7 goals for CP, though he’s been played very sparingly this season. He’s also featured for English national teams at U21, U19, U17, and U16 level, but could still play for Northern Ireland at the top national team level due to his dad being a Northern Irishman. World football national team allegiances are so fucking ridiculous.
#18: LEE CHUNG-YONG – Chung-yong means Blue Dragon. He came to footballing prominence at FC Seoul in his native South Korea, linked up with Ki Sung-yueng (of Swansea City now) as exciting young tandem which the fans affectionately called Double Dragon. Not much more you need to know.
#19: JORDON MUTCH – Primarily back-up at Crystal Palace since January of 2015, but used so sparingly he got loaned to Reading of the EFL Championship.
#20: STEVE MANDANDA – Another Congolese player (and hard not to like Congolese dual role on Crystal Palace XI up front on attack with Benteke and in goal) who came to Crystal Palace from France (who he has represented at international level, not DR Congo), but got injured in November, and has not returned to action as of yet. He is the oldest of four brothers (the others: Parfait, Riffi, and Ever), all of whom play professionally as goalkeeper. GKs tend to be pretty strange lot, regardless of continent of origin, but can you imagine four Congolese GKs all in one household?
#21: BAKARY SAKO – Malian national/French player who starred for Wolverhampton Wanderers for a couple seasons in lower English leagues, before signing with Palace two seasons ago, and has been a steady role player, starting some and sitting as substitute even more so lately, for Palace. Sadly, Wolverhampton Wanderers, known as the Wolves, due not involve black magic or the fusion of nomadic wolf shaman blood into human subjects for super-human powers. But perhaps now that he’s at Crystal Palace maybe that will change.
#22: DWIGHT GAYLE – Gayle was the doe-eyed point of attack for Palace for four seasons, before signing with Newcastle United one league lower this past summer transfer season.
#23: MATHIEU FLAMINI – The nature of this metric I operate this nonsense project under means that a guy like Flamini, who only just signed to Palace last September, and has only appeared like half a dozen times, but played four complete games, gets him to crack the bottom portion of this list as prominent recent role player. That’s how this works. (God fucking help me.)
#24: EMMANUEL ADEBAYOR – Togolese forward who had previously starred in prominent places like Arsenal, Manchester City, AS Monaco, and Tottenham Hotspur before ending up at Crystal Palace for the first six months of last year, who is now in that “let me go play in Turkey” phase of aging out of football, having signed for Istanbul Basaksehir FK, who are Turkish Super Lig but also not but the fourth biggest team in Istanbul.

#25: JULIAN SPERONI – Speroni is an aging Argentine GK who has been with Palace for 13 years now, and due to Mandanda’s injury, remains on the roster. He played two matches last year in cups, and has yet to play this year at all, being behind both Hennessey and Mandanda, but has been on list of substitutes almost two dozen times this season.

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