Crystal Palace are no strangers to snatching bargain buys from the clutches of their rivals.
The south Londoners did just that in 2011 when moving to sign Glenn Murray from Brighton, a man who would go on to net 30 Championship goals in the 2012/13 campaign to fire the Eagles into the Premier League.
However, cast your mind back two years before the English marksman arrived at Selhurst Park, and Crystal Palace once again nabbed a future club legend from a rival of theirs.
With fellow south London outfit Charlton needing to offload players from the wage bill after failing to confound the 888sport odds and suffering relegation to League One, Palace – who had just been docked one point and fined £20,000 for ineligibly fielding Rui Fonte on the final day of the 2008/09 season – snatched the midfielder on a free transfer.
In terms of being eased into life at his new club, Ambrose was instead thrown into treacherous waters.
Just months after his arrival, the club was plunged into administration and also docked ten points, transforming their ambitions for the campaign from playoff hopefuls into serious relegation candidates.
Assets were stripped. Neil Warnock – who had signed Ambrose – left for QPR, the highly-rated Victor Moses was sold to Wigan, and the future of the club was in jeopardy. Crystal Palace needed a saviour, but any potential buyer would surely prefer to throw their millions at a Championship club rather than one relegated to League One – survival was imperative.
So, when the final day of the season came around, and Paul Hart’s Palace side needed to avoid defeat against Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough to avoid the drop, nails were being bitten.
However, coming into this game with 19 goals already under his belt from midfield in his debut campaign, Ambrose wasn’t in the mood to see the Eagles go out with a whimper.
It was his coolly converted effort from Sean Scannell’s second-half cross which put Palace 2-1 up, where they eventually earned the point they needed thanks to the midfielder’s 20th strike of the season – that 2-2 draw may have saved the club from extinction.
Steve Parish and the rest of the ‘CPFC2010’ consortium eventually swooped in to save the club financially, but it was Ambrose whose incredible goalscoring efforts decided things on the pitch, and all for free.
This inspired free transfer would go on to net 37 goals and record 23 assists in 124 appearances for Palace.
Ambrose is without question a cult hero in SE25, and his work helped provide a platform for the Eagles to mount a promotion charge in 2013, which would lead to them still playing top-flight football seven years later – the club’s longest run in the Premier League.
His goals after arriving on a free transfer helped Palace shape their own future – it truly was a piece of wizardry from Warnock.