Jazz targeting Palace Swansong
27th May 2013
Two years ago, Jazz Richards walked up the steps to the Royal Box at Wembley having fulfilled a dream.
Part of the Swans matchday squad for the Championship Play-Off final against Reading, victory meant the Brynhyfryd boy became a Premier League player.
This afternoon, Richards hopes to make that same walk, with the same spring in his step, as he looks to help Crystal Palace reach the Promised Land for the first time since 2005.
Watford stand in Palace's way as the pair go head-to-head to hit the jackpot of playing top-flight football.
Manager Ian Holloway has plenty of Play-Off experience, having guided Blackpool to two of the previous finals.
And Richards, who joined the Eagles on loan in January, can also call on his experience of the big day as he looks to steer the club to the Premier League in his last act as a Palace player.
"I was part of the squad when we got to the Play-Off final two years ago and to have been part of winning that game - for my hometown club - was a dream come true," said the Wales international.
"Even though I didn't get off the bench, just being involved in the warm-ups and looking up at the 80,000 or so in the stadium was a memory that will live with me forever. It's a really special occasion.
"It's a mad day, too. You are trying to be as focused as possible, while the manager is trying to keep the tension and emotions under control.
"But as soon as you turn the corner and head into the stadium, you get this rush of adrenaline and it hits you - this is for a spot in the Premier League.
"It was massive for us at Swansea when we beat Reading. The club hadn't been in the Premier League before and it was new territory for us.
"But it means just as much to everyone here at Palace. The club should be in the Premier League, and we are just one game away from it.
"And when I look around at the squad, we have a great mix of players. The gaffer can call on the experience of Mile Jedinak, Damian Delaney, Danny Gabbidon, Peter Ramage and Kevin Phillips while we have youngsters like Wilf Zaha, Yannick Bolasie and Jonny Williams who can spice the game up and express themselves on a pitch like Wembley.
"It's going to be a fantastic match for the neutral, and I hope everyone back in Swansea will be rooting for Palace today because it's a fantastic club."
Richards has already been to Wembley this season as he watched the Swans lift the Capital One Cup trophy after beating Bradford City 5-0 in February.
The 22-year-old will return to the Liberty when his loan spell at Selhurst Park comes to an end shortly.
But, as he points out, he is determined to end his Palace stint on a winning note.
"I've had a great time at Palace," he added. "I'm very grateful to the club for the opportunity they have given me.
"I've been away from home for the first time, played with a different group of players, and I've got 11 games under my belt so far.
"I got a regular run of games under my belt, then I found myself out of the team. But I've still learned from that, and those experiences will help me progress as a footballer.
"But hopefully I will finish my loan spell with a win. To help Palace to the Premier League would be a great achievement for me."