Byrd has a point to prove

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The Independent Online


A 16-year career has not left Alton Byrd with much to prove, but he still intends taking every opportunity to embarrass the Budweiser League.

His next chance comes tonight when Byrd puts his Radio Five American sports show into the background to come out of retirement again and lead Crystal Palace against the Doncaster Panthers in the National Cup quarter-finals.

Palace are still smarting from being rejected by the Budweiser League for the current season, despite winning the First Division championship last spring. Palace are top of that competition again following an impressive win last weekend at their closest challenges, Coventry Crusaders.

"That was our best performance of the season," Byrd said, "but tonight is our biggest game of the season. We've tried to play friendlies against Budweiser clubs this season, but none of them seem to want to take the risk. Tonight is our big chance to show where we should be."

Palace have seven players with Budweiser experience and will be able to add their second foreign player, the 6ft 9in Canadian Eric Johnson. First Division games allow only one foreigner - a slot Palace usually fill with the Nigerian Soloman Ayinla.

The tie of the round, though, could be London Towers visit to Derby Storm. The holders, Sheffield Sharks, are at home to Chester Jets tomorrow while inconsistent Thames Valley Tigers visit another First Division club, Ware Rebels, tonight.