The incident occurred around the midway point of the first half when the scoreline was still 0-0. Three Tilehurst End readers have kindly shared their accounts of the incident with us including Alex Forbes.
During the first half my friends and I spotted a guy in Y19 in the East Stand singing 'Blue Army' pretty much on his own. He was stood up and trying to encourage all those around him to join in. We laughed and applauded what we thought were hopeless efforts. To our amazement one by one people started to join in around him, and a few around us in the North also started to clap and chant. It's worth noting the atmosphere was pretty dead at that point so we could hear individuals if they were loud enough. As the chant spread and the drummer joined in you could see the guy was loving it, clapping, chanting and bouncing around. All of a sudden there was a good little chant going on.
A couple of 'yellow coat' stewards came and had a chat with him to ask him to sit down and they were greeted by a couple of boos and jeers and the stewards soon retreated. After they left they guy sat down. Then, about 6 or 7 'orange coat' stewards climbed the steps to speak to him, where he was still sat down and the stewards gestured for him to leave. This was treated with a loud reaction from everyone that could see what was happening. The gentleman refused and in response to this the crowd cheered and chanted Blue Army in appreciation for the instigator. He lapped this up which egged the crowd on more. As the stewards continued to speak to him, gesturing for him to leave, boos and jeers continued alongside 'you don't know what you're doing' being directed towards them. At this point, I imagine the ref must have been very confused and also jealous that someone had stolen his song.
You could see the crowd around pointing towards Y26 and the away fans, and we assumed they were saying, 'look at all them standing up' but that is pure guesswork on my part. It was also frustrating to see a number of stewards standing in the middle of a block to stop one man standing who had sat down anyway. Next, everyone stood up singing 'Stand up if you hate stewards' and at that point I think the 'orange coats' realised they were fighting a losing battle and retreated.
What I would say is that I don't know what the gentleman said to the 'yellow coats' originally. I would hope that he didn't say anything abusive but we did contemplate that he might have which would explain why a larger number of stewards returned to confront him. Interestingly the gentleman didn't return for the second half, but he may have just found a more fun place to stand and support his team.
Sam Stevenson also had a similar account but believes that the fan in question did use bad language in the first instance.
A guy was swearing, which seemed to be what the original complaint came in about. He was calling the fans "w*****s".
This calmed down and people started joining in with him singing. Shortly after, the stewards all came up and tried to get him to leave, cue lots of appeals from hundreds of fans.
At half time, the fan went into the concourse and was met by multiple stewards and the police, who escorted him out. It's safe to say that people were very unhappy, as the swearing was minimal, and no worse than you hear week in week out.
While Joe Stevenson also sent us his view.
Our end of the East stand is known for being a quieter area. Two fans tried to bounce the crowd by standing up and singing. There was an occasional swear word in there but nothing too offensive. These two fans managed to get the area bouncing for a short period of time. Fans singing and standing and genuinely enjoying themselves like you should at the game.
Four stewards approached the two fans after about 10-15 mins claiming that there had been complaints from fans in the area. The stewards were met with boo's from fans in our area, and rightly so. It was thought the stewards had backed down as they all left. However what happened at half time after these two fans had left their seats a group of stewards and police were waiting for them round the corner. The group took the two fans behind the scenes and we didn't see them from that point.. The area then became quite hostile as we all tried to defend these fans who really didn't do anything wrong.
If this is the way Reading FC want to treat fans who want to show some passion and try and get the crowd built up then we might as well give up completely.
Well played to the two fans, who for a short while, got more out of the fans around us than the drummer seems to have got all season!
In a separate incident the game also saw a Nottingham Forest fan ejected for being in the home section of the ground in Y26 shortly after Forest had taken the lead.
It's general protocol for clubs to collate a full range of reports from the police, stewards and also seek to contact a fan after ejection so at the present time an official response from the club would seem premature. However once one is made we'll of course report any official statements made by Reading FC on the matter here on the site.
Stewarding is often a no-win job at the best of times as the role requires you to try and uphold the relevant laws and ground regulations, while also trying to avoid aggravating a crowd further. It's a difficult line to straddle and given the accounts above it's easy to see both sides of the story.
To their credit stewards often do allow standing and let slide some slightly more colourful language in the Y25/Y26 areas more associated with vocal fans, so perhaps in this instance the fact it was in a different area of the ground caused issues with some supporters not used to the language or behaviour of that particular fan or fans. Sure we'd all like a passionate crowd but not every fan is happy to hear bad language and their opinions also need to be respected.
Hopefully both supporters and stewards can find a happy medium to co-exist by: showing passion but trying to stick within the rules.
Please feel free to share your views of the incidents below but please try and keep the language clean if you can.