Life not always brighter away from the Eagles
As Nathaniel Clyne prepares to make his 100th appearance for Crystal Palace, his commitment to the team that gave him his debut is in stark contrast to many modern footballers.
Closer to home, Clyne’s decision to stay put and rack up a century of first team appearances shows what former Palace starlets John Bostock could have achieved had he not flown the nest at such a young age.
Clyne was already one of the most highly rated youngsters in the country, yet over the last two seasons his stock has continued to rise.
Having been subject of interest from various Premier League clubs, and bids from the likes of Wolverhampton Wanderers – whom he famously turned down last January despite Palace’s administration woes – Clyne opted to gain further first team experience in the Championship rather than settle in a Premiership team’s reserves and never be seen again.
Journey back to 2007, when Bostock made his debut against Watford aged just 15, setting a new club record in the process.
It couldn’t have been more perfect, a boy who had started the season with a season ticket next to his dad in the Arthur Wait Stand making his debut for the club he had loved and supported as a child.
At that time, boss Neil Warnock even described Bostock as “a Palace nut”; great.
Here was a player who loved the club so much he would never leave, a la Paul Scholes at Manchester United.
Sadly, this wasn’t the case. Having made just five appearances for Palace, Tottenham came knocking, and Bostock was gone.
Supposedly forced out by his father-come-manager, Bostock had deserted the team he so-loved with the aim of breaking into the Spurs first team and establishing himself as a Premiership player – with fans suspecting money played a key role.
So, what happened? Bostock was never able to break into the first team, rather than going on to be a first team regular for Palace, he found himself languishing in the Tottenham’s reserves and academy.
Loan spells at Brentford and Hull City came and went, with neither team being willing to opt for a long-term deal citing attitude problems and a lack of effectiveness being the reasons.
It seemed that Bostock’s decision to jump ship and head to the Premier League cost him the opportunity to build a reputation at Palace before a considered move later in his career.
While Clyne is close to making his 100th appearance at the age of 20, Bostock, 19, has made only 29 appearances across spells for three different clubs; playing at Palace from 2007 through to today, Bostock could easily be reaching a similar landmark to Clyne.
For Clyne, there will be bigger and brighter things ahead than trying to stave off relegation from the Championship, and due to his pride and commitment no Palace fan will begrudge him that.
Bostock, however, put all his money on black and it came up red, he gambled on glory and it has cost him.
The contrasting examples of these two young players are perfect examples to young players everywhere: while there may be bigger names and bigger pay cheques at Premier League clubs, it is more often the case that gaining first team experience at your parent club is more valuable.
There are exceptions, such as Gareth Bale and Theo Walcott, but Bostock is an example of the wider reaching rule. Clyne, however, can look forward to a career where, even if things go wrong, he was an established first team regular at least once.
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- Palace give cause for cautious optimism
- A Spurs Olympic win would be a disaster for Crystal Palace
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- Is Freedman the right man for Palace?
- Time for Palace to turn over a new leaf