John Bostock – Forgiven But Not Forgotten

Bostock made 4 appearances for Palace so why so much hype about his return?

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In 2008 John Bostock left Crystal Palace under controversial circumstances when he signed a professional contract with Tottenham Hotspur. The transfer fee was set by tribunal and undervalued the player.

Last Saturday saw former Palace youth player, John Bostock, return to Selhurst Park with his latest club, Toulouse, to play a pre-season friendly.

You could be forgiven for thinking with all the hype the club put out surrounding his return that Bostock was a club legend coming back for the first time. However, that isn’t the case.

Background

Bostock supported Palace as a boy and came through the club’s youth academy. He made his debut for Palace as a 15-year old and still to this day he is the youngest player to have played for the club. It was hoped that he would sign professional terms with the club but for some inexplicable reason he turned his back on the club he loved to sign for Tottenham.

Why did Bostock sign for Tottenham over Palace? There are a few different suggestions but may or may not be true, who knows the truth apart from Bostock himself? To be honest I don’t really care what the reason was because it wouldn’t change what happened. What concerns me is that the club chose to follow that agenda and one of the prominent Palace ‘fanzines’ was onboard with pushing the ‘homecoming’ of a former player. A player who – let’s be frank – shit on the club he claimed to love.

It would be easy to gloss over what happened back when Bostock left the club and though I do not in any way suggest him leaving directly led to Palace going into administration in 2010 it can’t be ignored that it was one of the chain of events that led to it.

Signing for Tottenham

Bostock signed for Tottenham in May 2008 and Palace went into administration in January 2010, just 18 months later.

It can’t be ignored the impact losing Bostock had on the club at the time both financially and to the morale. Yes, Bostock was 15 and not a first-team regular but it was said that the club was going to build a team around him in the following year or two such was his potential. This was a time when we had academy products such as Victor Moses, Sean Scannell and Nathanial Clyne in the team.

But, as I said, I am not suggesting Bostock’s departure directly led to administration but it was one of a series of events which eventually led to it. Losing an asset for a pittance devalued the club and the ensuing costs associated with trying to get more compensation didn’t help matter financially.

Simon Jordan’s sympathisers backed his stance at the time whereas the people who dislike him think he should have just ‘let it go’, a baffling point of view. At the time many people, not just Jordan, thought Bostock was worth £5 million or more. Palace got just under £800,000.

Agenda, what agenda?

So why was the club pushing the homecoming Bostock agenda? You could be forgiven for wondering if this would have happened if Bostock had left while Steve Parish was the chairman instead Simon Jordan.

It would be too easy to think this was a dig at Jordan by Parish after all the two men dislike each other and given the history between them it would be understandable. The fact is that the friendly had been proposed and discussed before John Bostock had signed for Toulouse so it was more of a happy coincidence than a planned homecoming.

Whatever the reason behind the propaganda hype publicity it did surprise me how many people, mainly millennials, felt sorry for Bostock. Excuse me? Feeling sorry for him, why?

Little 15

Apparently, when Bostock turned his back on Palace he was “just a kid”. It seems being 15 means different things depending on what you are doing. If you are making a big decision about a contract then you are just a kid but if you go around robbing people while riding a moped it seems you are an adult. There is no consistency of opinion and it is all about your point of view.

Some people pointed me to the interview he did with the club and said that once I’d watched it that I’d change my opinion about the whole thing. I watched the interview and when it was suggested he was too young for making such a decision Bostock quickly shot it down by saying “no, I wasn’t too young, that isn’t an excuse!”

So that screwed their argument up, did they watch the whole interview themselves? Credit to Bostock for not making excuses and taking ownership of the mistake.

I had already forgiven Bostock for turning his back on the club ten years ago, but I won’t forget it and the same goes for a host of other ex-Palace players and managers. Some fans honestly made me feel wonder sometimes but I can forgive them because they were not old enough to remember what happened at that time but some other fans really should know better.

I was accused of “having bitterness in my heart” by the guy associated with the Palace ‘fanzine’ I mentioned earlier. He went on to clarify that it was because I couldn’t forget what Bostock did and that he was a “just a kid” at the time. Did I never make a mistake at his age? Yes, I did and I am still reminded of it today. That’s life, at least for us in the real world.

I know one thing for sure, I would never have turned my back on Palace in those circumstances or any club for that matter. Yes, I did have a strong moral compass at 15, you’ll just have to trust me on that because I can’t prove it but I have no reason to lie to you.

I didn’t wish ill on Bostock. I didn’t want him to be booed, abused, insulted or jeered. But I didn’t think he should be clapped either. He is pretty insignificant to the club, he made 4 appearances less than a lot of other former youth players, do we do the same for them when they come back to Selhurst?

I genuinely hope that Bostock can continue to rebuild his career and go on to realise the potential that many thought he had when he was at Palace. However, don’t expect me to stand there and clap him. It seemed to me that the club and the ‘fanzine’ concerned were one small step away from arranging a chorus of ‘He’s one of our own’ to be sung from the Holmesdale.

As for the fan who tweeted Bostock saying he’d love him to “come home, we need you”… Mate, get a fucking life!

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