From The West End (Of The Atlantic): Why?

Warren Little

I'm a Royal, no doubt. Adopted, perhaps. Fickle, no. As they say, you don't pick your club, it picks you, and that can never be more accurately applied to anyone but me. And it's been good. Due to being a "chosen" Royal I have had the chance to affiliate a local youth club with Reading (the first in North America to do so). I have formed a supporters group here in the US, now recognized as an official STAR chapter. I have been chosen, now for the second year, as a contributor to the pundit panel in the Reading Chronicle. And, I've been asked to appear on Talk Sport related to RFC. But how? How in the world did some bloke from South Georgia (USA) plug into the Royal family...and why in heaven's name? Glad you asked.

I understand many of you support our dear club based on geography or family history. Why else would you support what has been, until recently, a lower-tiered club (other than the wickedly cool hoops)? American fans, new to the sport (of soccer) have learned to choose a club based on popularity (like all fickle American sports fans do). Manchester United, City, Chelsea, Liverpool, even Arsenal are popular over here. But Reading? Not hardly. You have to qualify the club first to those unwashed souls who query. "Are they in the EPL? Do they play against Arsenal on TV?" Blah, blah. They have no idea.

Even expat Brits will ask, "Are you a Rangers supporter? Why," I ask, "is there an ‘L' on my forehead?" "It's READING FC, since 1871!"

No, fate and the club CHOSE me. In trying to find a professional club who would be interested in affiliating with a small, rural youth club in Georgia, I sent emails. "Do you want to help?" No response. Finally, a brave soul at the club responded. He was, at the time, in charge of the Community program and RFC women's program. He wanted to see what would happen if a club like Reading, formed so many decades ago, a true founder of club football, reached out to this little youth club. He was eagerly received, visited, conducted camps, and is still counted as a friend today (I'll withhold his name to avoid any association with my atrocious writing).

But that wasn't all. The club reached out to us and tried to tie the association further. I appeared in the game day program. We were noted on the club's website. Sir John even sent us a message. Therefore, had Reading not been the club they are, filled with the supporters they hold dear, and interested in doing something to support a good cause related to football, no, I wouldn't have been chosen and no, you wouldn't have wasted the last few minutes reading my poor attempts at blogging. But they are, you did, and here I am.

Therefore, with the blessings and overstated expectations of this fine blog, The Tilehurst End, for which I have grown to respect and count as a resource, I hope to share with you some of the environment that English football brings to the States, especially here in the South, throughout the season. Better, my attempts to actually watch our games, now that we're relegated once again. That in itself is, at times, an adventure.

A long, tough season awaits! Come on URZ! From over here, on the West End of the Atlantic.

Twitter: @ChipHarp

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