It's fair to say that good news stories about Reading Football Club have been in short supply in recent years. The club's academy quite rightly gained much praise last season for the Under 18's and Under 21's cup runs.
But there's another good news story that has perhaps not been noticed as much as it should have been. Reading Football Club has an England international who has came through the club's academy. Her name is Fran Kirby.
Today the club announced that she is set to become the first female professional player in the club's history. If ever there was a sign of the club's commitment to women's football then this is it. After URZZ1871's article questioning the club's identity at the moment, it is good to see the club remind us that we support a decent club with a local identity.
The Kirby deal may be more significant than we realise. If the club was short of cash then it is unlikely that they would be committing to greater investment in the club's women's team. Hopefully this is a sign that the club's Thai owners are willing to invest.
Kirby's first professional contract will crown off a great year for the 20 year old. In April she became the first player from the new second tier, FA Women's Super League 2, called into the senior England set-up. England's manager Mark Sampson said at the time, "Fran Kirby is a player with great potential who is really enjoying her football at the moment and playing very well."
He is certainly right about her playing well. In the 2014 season she finished as the country's top goalscorer at club level with an incredible 29 goals in 22 games. As the video below shows, she might well be the best finisher at the club at the moment. Here's hoping she can lead the Royals to promotion next season!
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