Aw, Dwight Gayle’s tweet gave me the feels.
There’s a certain level of detachment toward sports and my favorite teams that I have and pride myself on. What you could call jadedness is what I call perspective — watching these professionals and college athletes is a nice diversion from the mundane routines that dominate the 52 Monday through Fridays each year and the spectacles are always better when my team wins, but in the end, these sports are adults playing our childhood games for franchises in a unique entertainment industry. Enjoy the wins, enjoy the talent and skill of these athletes, but don’t beat yourself up too much over a loss and don’t become too emotionally invested on the names on the back of the uniforms.
That mentality is being tested right now.
In fact, it may be approaching a personal crisis level right now. Glenn Murray, the 31-year-old prolific striker whose 31 goals in 2012-2013 helped fire my Crystal Palace F.C. on the path toward the Premier League, left the club today for AFC Bournemouth after four years with the Eagles. The deal, worth 4 million Pounds for Palace and a three year contract with a pay raise for Murray, continues the transition that Palace is making from Premier League upstarts to a consolidated side in England’s top flight. Considering that Murray turns 32 later this month and is on the latter stages of his career, I found the move perfect: he gets one big payday and a better chance for playing time in Eddie Howe’s exciting Bournemouth attack and Palace gets paid a hefty sum for Murray’s age to cut a salary from the books.
But the nostalgia began to pour out of #cpfc social media when the move became official. On Facebook, I watched a 1:51 video of the most memorable goals scored by Murray, according to the club. I flashed a wide smile when the video showed Murray’s headed goal against Sunderland last season, one of the smartest goals I had ever seen. Murray wins a flick-on and the ball goes to winger Yannick Bolasie, who makes a wide run. Murray keeps running toward the box, though, charging toward the center of the box before changing directions and ghosting past the Sunderland defense toward the far post. Bolasie crosses the ball for Murray knock it into the net with a free header.
Then, I pulled up a five minute video created by the Palace communications team and shared by the independent Five Year Plan Fanzine, which showcased all of Murray’s goals from that 2012-13 season. Because of the virtually nonexistent television exposure that the English Championship gets in the United States, this was the first time I had seen the goalscoring prowess of Murray that captured the hearts of Palace supporters. As Murray demonstrated with that Sunderland goal, he’s a wizard — he just knows where and when to apparate somewhere in the six-yard box so he could hammer the ball into the net.
The videos that the communications staffs on sports teams put out normally don’t have an effect on me. They’re there to pump up the fans and inject a level of excitement and energy while they watch a match. (Or, if you’re at home, make you want to buy a ticket to a match so you can bask in the action and the deafening volume of noise in the flesh.) With the way ticket prices have soared in sports in my adulthood, I’m all for letting the fans be excited and making the most of the couple hours they have, especially since this may be their only trip this season to their beloved team’s home.
However, those two videos of Murray’s attacking exploits destroyed the chamber where my sentiment in sport is usually locked up. I began to feel a tinge of disappointment that Murray would no longer be wearing the Red and Blue; the valid, logical reasons for letting Murray go were now unacceptable.
I found myself clinging, wishing Murray could stick around to ride out one more season in the Premier League with my club.
It’ll probably take the rest of this week to accept the reality that he’s gone. And then after I’ve finally come to terms with it, I’ll turn on NBC Sports Network on September 12 for the Palace v. Manchester City preview, see my team warming-up for a few seconds, and then feel a wave of disappointment rise up and overtake my emotions when NBC switches to the warm-up for Norwich v. Bournemouth, with Murray shown running around in the black and red of the Cherries.
But in a way, I’m content with this bit of heartbreak. Thank you, Glenn, for the goals and the memories. And thank you for making me acknowledge that I am human, and that I can care about the individual whose name graces the back of the jersey as much as the club badge that graces the front.