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The Tilehurst End Advent Calendar: December 13

We continue our advent calendar with a look at some of the best atmospheres at the Mad Stad.

Reading v Fulham - Sky Bet Championship Play Off: Second Leg Photo by Ben Hoskins/Getty Images

The MadStad Crowd

  • Position: All four sides of the stadium
  • Nationality: Various
  • Total appearances: 499

Whether you think it’s a genuine attempt to ensure supporters feel valued and part of the setup at Reading, or a cringeworthy piece of worthless marketing-babble, the “Number 13 – Reading Fans” has been with us since August 2001, so now it’s their turn in the Advent Calendar spotlight.

Much maligned by some for their docility and lack of noise, and regularly exhorted by many to make more noise, the MadStad crowd has shown time and time again that they’re largely immune to attempts to artificially create an atmosphere. That’s not to say they don’t make noise, though – they can make as much noise as any crowd of the same size, as demonstrated in this story from 2006, when Reading were proved to be one of the noisiest clubs in the Premier League.

Memorable Moment

The MadStad crowd has always been one of the best-behaved and most respectful (always impeccably respecting minute’s silences etc), and has always responded generously to charity appeals (for example the “FundeCruz” launched by Ulises de la Cruz) I’m assuming that the prime attribute anyone wants from a football crowd is noise and passion, so what do I consider to be the MadStad crowd’s most memorable moment?

There are a few memorable moments worthy of consideration, not least the famous “Pants Day” in December 1999. A protest at poor performances (said by some to stand for “Players Are Not Trying Sufficiently”) this was typical the way that things tended to be done differently at Reading. Instead of angry protests, this was a good natured and humorous protest, making the point gently but effectively.

The atmosphere at the Wigan play-off semi-final in 2001 is also worthy of mention, as is the atmosphere for Reading’s first ever Premier League match against Middlesbrough in August 2006, when the crowd that had been silenced by Reading slumping to an early two-goal deficit was awakened as the team picked themselves up and turned the game around to win 3-2.

Also in contention is that memorable night in April 2012 when Mikele Leigertwood’s 81st-minute goal secured promotion to the Premier League, but from my experience a Reading crowd is never as loud and never as raucous as when they have something to be outraged about.

And there are two games which are still etched in my memory for just how loud and just how passionate – and just how angry! – the MadStad crowd were. And curiously, they were both against the same opponents with the same opposition manager – Dear Colin, bless him, he never disappoints us when he visits, even this week!

The first was in October 2005, with Coppell’s 106 point team just starting to get into their stride, and had a chance to narrow the gap on the runaway leaders Sheffield United. Reading won a tight game 2-1, but the main talking point came just after the half-hour mark when United ‘keeper Paddy Kenny clearly deliberately handled the ball outside his area, but was – inexplicably - only given a yellow card by referee Grant Hegley. The utter fury at this gross injustice was palpable, and the noise the crowd that day generated was incredible – and certainly memorable.

But it was matched 15 months later, as Reading again beat Sheffield United in a match made famous for Keith Gillespie’s sending off before the whistle had been blown to restart play as he came off the bench, and for Mr Warnock’s miming of what his players should be doing on the pitch.

Reading v Sheffield United Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Again, the anger, the passion and the sheer noise of the MadStad crowd that day was – and still is – utterly memorable, as anyone there that day will surely testify. That game – and the atmosphere generated that day by the MadStad crowd – will live with me forever.

Now you’ve read this, check out the full list of entries in our TTE Advent Calendar: