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Farewell Noel - Five of the best moments from the career of one of Reading's unsung heros

Noel Hunt seemingly confirmed that he'll be leaving the club in a string of tweets made after yesterday's defeat at West Ham. The striker's contract is up in July and while his departure doesn't come as too big a surprise, it's still sad to see him leave the club after five loyal years of service. We look back at Hunty's best moments as we say thanks for the memories Noel!

Charlie Crowhurst

5. Barnsley 1-3 Reading (September 2010): Hunt at the double to give Brendan his first win

There's not many moments from the Brendan Rodgers era that will stick out in Reading's history but one of them has to be a 3-1 win at Oakwell that saw Noel score twice and Rodgers earn his first win as Reading boss.

Coming into the game Reading had failed to win their first four league games under their new manager, while managing just two goals. The run looked set to stretch to five games when Andy Gray gave Barnsley the lead but after Alex Pearce equalised before half-time, Hunt scored two in two minutes before the hour mark to give Reading the win. While neither goal was spectacular, his penalty and header were key goals and they were his only of the campaign before injury kept him out for nearly a year.


4. Reading 2-2 Newcastle (September 2012): First Premier League goal

Over the summer few Reading fans had expected Noel Hunt to feature, with Jason Roberts, Pavel Pogrebnyak and Adam Le Fondre expected to dominate the lineup. But with Roberts injured and Pog and Alfie inconsistent, Hunt was given a chance to start for the visit of Alan Pardew's Newcastle. Hunt marked the occasion with his first goal in in the Premier League and it should have been a winner were it not for Demba Ba's late handball into the net.

Hunt followed that up with another goal at Swansea the following week, with a strike that was even better but to score your first goal in front of your home fans just pips that as a moment for me.


3. Birmingham 1-3 Reading (December 2008) - Free-kick fireworks

Hunt managed just 27 minutes in this one but certainly made an impact, with his low free-kick giving Reading a crucial lead in a battle of second against third.

Birmingham 1 - 3 Reading 20/12/08 by BenReadingFC


2. Reading 6-0 Sheffield Wednesday (September 2008) - The Hunt & Doyle Show

Hunt was on fire as Reading ran riot over Sheffield Wednesday at the Madejski Stadium. While Kevin Doyle's hat-trick took the plaudits, Hunt also had a fine game, bagging a brace and setting up another as Steve Coppell's side destroyed Wednesday.


1. West Ham 2-4 Reading (March 2012) - Now you're gunna believe us, the Royals are going up!

Hunt formed a fantastic partnership with Jason Roberts as Brian McDermott's side began a sensational run to the Championship title, but few games were as important as this one at Upton Park where Reading upset the odds to claim a win over Sam Allardyce's side. After narrowly failing to score early on, Hunt found the net when it mattered, combining with Roberts to score Reading's second just before half time to spark wild celebrations in the away end. Those that were there will tell you just how much that goal meant.


Those are just five of Hunt's moments in a Reading shirt and notable mentions have to go to his 'goal' at Wembley or the aforementioned strike at Swansea. While a total tally of 33 league goals in 145 games may not seem overly impressive, those that watched him and played with him will testify to the hard work he put in and the way he selflessly created chances for others.

Personally I don't think it's a coincidence that Kevin Doyle, Shane Long and Jason Roberts all had their best spells with Hunt alongside them.

Beyond his efforts on the pitch, Noel was also a great influence off it, putting in countless hours of charity work for the Prince's Trust and generally offering his time and being great with the fanbase. He was one of the first Reading players to embrace twitter and while many players shy away from interacting with the fans, Hunty was always happy to chat.

While I can understand the decision not to offer him a new long-term deal, I still think it's a real shame to see him leave the club. I'm sure I speak for all Reading fans in wishing him all of the best for the future and I'm sure he'll get a great reception anytime he returns to the Madejski Stadium