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10 Years On: What Reading FC's Promotion Meant To My 12-Year-Old Self

As part of our celebration of Reading's promotion to the Premier League on March 25 2006, Marc brings back the emotions he felt as a young fan on that day, and what it meant for the club's youthful fanbase for years to come.

(Not me)
(Not me)
Julian Finney/Getty Images

BBC Radio Berkshire and Sky Sports News act in unison across my home in Reading, and they both confirm what we'd known for months. The Royals are up, results elsewhere and a 1-1 draw with Leicester confirmed it. The chant of the year, "That's why we're top of the league," would now become "That's why we're Premier League" (In reality that became 'Champions' just a week later).

As a mere 12-year-old, one who'd bought his half season ticket just a couple of years after watching his first game, a 1-0 defeat to Wimbledon delivered by some young winger called McAnuff, I could feel the scale of achievement I'd witnessed, although perhaps not to the full extent.

How old were you at the time? How do you look back on the way your younger self enjoyed the day?Comment below.

Playing in the Premier League is the big one to any fan, and to be there for the first time made it all the more special, but to be there as a young teenager was a blessing and a curse. Reward is sweeter through strife, a factor I'd hardly encountered in my short time in a Hoops shirt. Indeed, I don't regard it as my making as a football fan, that came 26 months later as I watched us get relegated from the back of the away end at Derby.

Instead, it unveiled to me the footballing supremacy of hope and satisfaction. Hammering the likes of Cardiff and Norwich consistently for an entire season was the pinnacle of many decades of hard work for the club, and being delivered in an entertaining, committed and merciless attacking system changed the way I, and many Royals supporters, wanted to watch football.

This was before tika-taka and well before high-pressing. The wobbly-legged approach of Glen Little and raw pace of Bobby Convey hitting the byline, with support from fierce overlapping full-backs, to cross for the determined head of Kevin Doyle, or the eight-foot long pins of Dave Kitson, became the only way to win games, in my mind.

Of course, this had implications on future Reading sides to this day, certainly attributing to Brendan Rodgers' and Nigel Adkins' downfall. The fan-hood had been educated on the best way to win, no matter what any manager would tell them, especially given they couldn't prove it via results. But, one other thing was changed by that 106 team, as myself proved, the age of your average Reading fan shifted further downwards.

The whole concept of the Madejski Stadium was founded upon the inwards migration boosting one of the fastest-growing towns in the country over the millennium. As an excited member of the next generation, my support for my local team would be bolstered by regular slots on Sky Sports, Match Of The Day, and on video games. Whether you like it or not, these assets are key to keeping young fans engaged.

Finally, my I'll point out how lucky my 12-year-old self knew he was. Constantly we'd remind ourselves that this period was the greatest in the club's 130+ year history, an era that came to an end with Reading's relegation in 2013. Three years of hell it has not been, since then, but a soul-searching mission to find our way back.

Here's to an article on what it meant to my 23-year-old self winning promotion in 2017. Coming 2027.