The FYP Interview - Matt Parsons

Written by Stephen Bridle
Age: 20
Twitter: n/a
Position: Left-back
Favourite Palace song: Glad All Over
Favourite Palace Legend: Ian Wright. He seems like a really nice bloke. Just really likeable
Favourite game played in: It has to be my debut game against Norwich.
Favourite Palace kit: I like this season's kit. The zig-zags are something a bit different - something new!

FYP's Stephen Bridle caught up with 20-year-old left back Matt Parsons after he featured in a reserve team game against QPR.

So Matt, how did the game go? Is there the same rivalry in the reserves as there is with the first team?

It went well. They beat us three times last year so it was nice to go there and get the draw this time. There’s not so much of a rivalry, everyone talks to everyone and it’s all good. Obviously you still want to go and win though.

Stuart O’Keefe in the middle was probably Man of the Match for us today. Ryan Inniss in defence had a good game as well!

FYP assistant editor Streety will be very happy to hear that! But enough about the reserves, you’ve played a few games for the first team now – how does it feel to make that step up?

It felt good, obviously. It’s all I’ve been working towards since I came here. I’m a local guy. I live in Catford and was born in Lewisham – so it feels good.

I was very nervous the night before my debut game against Norwich. But once I got to the ground, the warm up went so quickly and when the whistle blew I was fine. You almost blank out everything else – all the crowd noise around you – you’re just in full concentration.

Palace have had their best start in the league for a few years – does that mean morale in the camp is high at the moment?

We’ve started better than most thought we would – we just have to keep it going. Everyone’s buzzing around the club at the moment. It’s going to be hard for teams to come to Selhurst Park and pick up points this season.

We’re a tight group, mostly all from South London. I’ve known a lot of them from before Palace, through just playing football in the local area. We’ve grown up together. I’ve got great mates in the team like Charlie Holness, but everyone’s just friends with everyone really.

Boys will be boys – I hear Danny Butterfield used to be the joker in the dressing room. Now he’s gone, who’s taken his place?

Calvin Andrew is a comedian [laughs]. He’ll just come out with a joke from nowhere.  He’s got an amazing sense of humour – he’s got a joke for everyone, in any situation!

You’ve just made the step up to the first team, so you must spend a bit of time on the bench every now and then – is it hard watching from the sidelines? Are you always itching to get on and play?

Definitely. As a footballer you always want to be playing, but it’s the team that counts. You want to pick up three points and be buzzing every week.

You joined the Palace set up when you were 15, how do you think you’ve progressed since then?

When I started out I was a left midfielder, when I came to Palace Under-16s they put me at left-back, which was a massive career boost for me. I feel much better playing at left-back and I feel like I’m improving all the time!

I reckon I could still do a job [in left midfield] – it wouldn’t be my strongest position, but I could do a job there. I like to get forward when I can anyway.

Which players do you look up to and try and emulate when you’re playing your football?

Ashley Cole for me is the best left-back out there. I study the way he plays. He can get forward and get back to defend – I like that. That’s the way I want to try to play.

And he’s got that all important Palace connection! Looking back to last season, how did your loan move to Barnet effect your game?

It was good playing experience. Training with the first team week in week out was a good experience for me. I played, I think, about eight games in the two months I was there – which is good to get out there and get that first team experience.

Though playing in the Championship is a lot different. You can afford to make a few mistakes in the lower leagues but the Championship is much quicker. It’s sharper. You get punished for every mistake you make.

Now we’ve taken a look back, what about the future? What do you hope to achieve this year?

I set myself goals to achieve before the beginning of each season which I have to complete by the end of it. This is something that they taught us to do through the youth team – it helps us know we’re on the right track.

Last season I set myself three major goals and I’d completed them all by the end of October, which was a real boost. This year I’ve set myself the goal of trying to get at least five first team appearances and hopefully I’ll get the chance to prove myself!

This is Dougie Freedman’s first full season in charge at Palace – how do you rate him? What is he like to play under?

He’s a good man to man manager; he’s always available to talk to whenever you need him. He’s young and he’s got some fresh ideas. He’s like one of the lads, but he’s still the gaffer.

What I like about him is that he’ll always tell you the truth and not just what you want to hear. If there’s an area of your game that needs to improve he’ll tell you [in no uncertain terms!]

He won’t take any [guff] from anyone – and that’s a good trait to have as manager.

[Dougie] hasn’t set us a specific goal for the season – he just tells us "go out and do your job". Work in your position and when all 11 players work together you should come away with the result you want.

So what about the new additions to the squad, how are they settling in and how do you reckon you’ll get on?

The Gaffer has tried to bring in good lads. No friction, no-one who thinks they’re bigger than the club; and if we carry on the way we are, with the squad we’ve got now, I think we have a shot at the play-offs at the end of the season. That has got to be the goal really – we just have to make sure we keep up the results.

Do you have any pre-match rituals you go through?

Not really. I tend to go down the cafe pre-match for scrambled eggs on toast and that's me done.

Fair enough! How about a silly one? If Palace could sign anyone in the world, regardless of cost or stature, who would you like to see pull on the red and blue jersey of the Eagles?

It’d have to be Messi. He’s like the god of football. If I played against him and had to deal with him I’d be happy if I tackled him once!

Which game are you most looking forward to this season?

Millwall. It’s always a big game for me. I’m a Millwall fan actually, coming from the local area – but I probably shouldn’t have told you that!

Even though I support Millwall I always want Palace to win. Without a doubt. I get a bit of stick from my family sometimes for playing for Palace but I know they’re all very proud of me really.

So this is the “BIG ONE” then – if I said the words “Crystal Palace F.C.” what do they mean to you?

Well, it’s my club now! Every time I see something about Palace I’m hanging to it. It’s my second home and if, god-forbid, we ever did part ways I’d always look out for them. It’s second nature now. Like a family.

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