Crystal Palace has a number of local teams to choose from in terms of rivalries, however their main rival may surprise you. Read on to find out who it is.

The Eagles of Crystal Palace are the self-proclaimed pride of South London. The side from Croydon are one of seven London-based teams in the Premier League, and one of 12 teams in London competing from the EFL League 2 and up.

With that, it is understandable that Palace would have a circle round each of those games every season to mark when they want to be at their very best.

But their rivalries extend beyond the Premier League, and even extend beyond the London limits.

Find out who are Crystal Palace’s biggest rivals and what the catalyst was to make their matchups so heated.

Crystal Palace vs Brighton

Games: 109┃Crystal Palace wins: 40┃Brighton wins: 40┃Draws: 29

Palace’s biggest rivalry. That’s right. For these two sides, this matchup is their must-win every season.

It may be confusing, as they aren’t based in the same city. They aren’t even neighbouring cities. There is a 40 mile gap between these two. But sometimes, it's not about distance.

Why are Brighton and Crystal Palace rivals?

The origin of this rivalry dates back to the mid-to-late 1970s, with the first game of the 1974/75 season being the catalyst. Brawls between the fans and multiple arrests were the order of the day, as Brighton beat Palace 1-0 on the opening day of the season.

A year later, both teams brought in new, young managers. Terry Venables (Palace) and Alan Mullery (Brighton) were in their first years managers, having played together at Tottenham.

That’s not to say they had a great relationship, though. Mullery was the team captain and a fan favourite, while Venables was his second-in-command and not as appreciated by the fans or manager, Spurs legend Bill Nicholson.

Their battles of the next few years made the rivalry as fierce as it possibly could be, with both sides rising together from the Third Division all the way back up to the First Division.

Ever since, the rivalry has remained. Now, with both teams competing each year in the Premier League, the fans and neutral alike are treated to one of England’s most underrated derbies.

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Crystal Palace vs Charlton Athletic

Games: 68┃Crystal Palace wins: 34┃Charlton wins: 19┃Draws: 15

Charlton Athletic is another big rivalry for Crystal Palace, this time due in part to proximity, as both clubs are located in South London, but also because they once used to share the same home.

Selhurst Park, Palace’s home, and The Valley, home of Charlton, are separated by just eight miles.

In 1984, Charlton went into administration and were forced to leave The Valley stadium before the start of the 1985/86 season due to safety concerns.

Palace, being the good neighbours they are, opened the doors to Selhurst Park and let Charlton use it as their home as well for six years.

According to fans, though, Charlton regularly disrespected the stadium by leaving it in a mess after every game. This fueled the anger for Palace fans, and stoked the fire that was already lit in this local rivalry.

The last time these two played each other was in 2015, when they met in the League Cup. Palace came away with a 4-1 victory.

The 2012/13 season was the last time both were in the same league, competing in the EFL Championship.

Crystal Palace vs Millwall

Games: 98┃Crystal Palace wins: 30┃Millwall wins: 30┃Draws: 38

Once again, it is location that makes the rivalry between these two. Millwall fans are quite known for being, lets say, a bit difficult towards however their opponent is on the day.

That goes doubly when they face any London team, and tripled when they face either one of the other South London clubs (although West Ham are their main rivals).

Millwall hold a winning record over every South London side, and in the case of Palace vs Millwall, it is likely to stay that way for many more years to come, as they are in different leagues, having not been in the same one since the 2012/13 season.

Millwall’s home of The Den and Selhurst Park are just six miles apart, meaning when they met in the FA Cup third round earlier this year, sparks were flying well before the game as fans were bumping into each other.

That game finished 2-1 to Palace, but was largely overshadowed by violent disorder between the fans that led to a plea from police to find a number of fans after the game.

Crystal Palace vs Manchester United

Games: 61┃Crystal Palace wins: 10┃Manchester United wins: 39┃Draws: 12

Crystal Palace vs Manchester United isn’t a massive rivalry. It definitely isn’t born from proximity, and these two haven’t had many big clashes on the pitch. At least not between the players.

There really isn’t any animosity between the teams when they play, but Palace fans will always give United fans the cold shoulder after the incident on 25th January 1995.

United had travelled to Selhurst Park to play Palace in a Premier League match. United were the much stronger team, although on the day Palace were giving them a hard time.

Shortly after half-time, United’s star Frenchman, Eric Cantona, was sent off. As he was leaving the pitch, a particularly loud Palace was giving him grief. Instead of just walking on and ignoring him, Cantona ran at the fan and kung-fu kicked him in the chest.

Cantona was subsequently banned from football for eight months, was given a £30,000 fine, was stripped of his France national team captaincy, and never played for his country again.

Palace in the end came out as somewhat winners, as they held United to a 1-1 draw, and those dropped points added up later in the season, as United lost the title to Blackburn Rovers by just one point.

Still, to this day Palace fans hold the matchup between the two sides in a higher regard than others. Their victory over them at the end of the 2021/22 season was heavily celebrated.

Crystal Palace vs every other London team

Of course, any time two or more clubs share the same city, there is going to be a rivalry. We’ve already noted the South London derbies, but really there is a strong rivalry between every club in London.

Arsenal, Tottenham, Chelsea, West Ham, Fulham and Brentford are the other six teams based in London that play in the Premier League, so Palace are regularly playing a London derby each season.

None of them stand out as bigger than the others in terms of rivalry. It’ll be more down to the individual fans for who they dislike more.

And then there are other London-based teams. As mentioned, there are 12 in total.

AFC Wimbledon are one to note. There is something of a rivalry between Palace and The Dons, with Palace sharing Selhurst Park once again, this time with Wimbledon FC.

The stadium share was between 1991-2003, when Wimbledon relocated to Milton Keynes. This big move prompted two changes:

  • Fans of Wimbledon FC were outraged at this move and didn’t follow the team, instead creating their own team in 2002, known now as AFC Wimbledon.
  • Wimbledon FC, now no longer located in Wimbledon, changed their name to Milton Keynes Dons FC.

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