Nationality: Welsh (bizarrely, he even appeared for them in the semi-finals of the Euros)
Total Reading FC Appearances: 122
Total Reading FC Goals: 23
There are a good number of ‘memorable moments’ from Reading’s most recent number 18, Yann Kermorgant, but I’ve deliberately ignored them for being too recent. After all, fond memories of goals against Fulham, Leeds United and others have come inside the last 12 months or so. Instead, let’s rewind a few years.
Simon Richard Church, born in the mighty county of Buckinghamshire, was the epitome of an academy graduate who ran his socks off. After bursting onto the scene in Steve Coppell’s final game as Reading manager, he had a decent return of 12 goals in 2009/10 before fading in the following campaign.
However, the departure of Shane Long after 2011’s play-off final loss to Swansea gave Church another chance in the first team, and the first half of the 2011/12 season saw him competing for game time with Noel Hunt and Adam Le Fondre - albeit often as an impact sub.
It was one such appearance from the bench that gave Church his high point in a Reading shirt: the visit of West Ham United on December 10, which happened to be Church’s 23rd birthday. The match is better known for Jimmy Kebe’s sock-related antics on the touchline by Y22, but our academy forward shone that day too.
Around 24,000 fans squeezed into a packed Madejski Stadium to watch a hard-working Reading, that was beginning to rediscover its stride under Brian McDermott, give the recently-relegated Hammers a tonking by three goals to nil.
Alex Pearce opened the scoring after Joey O’Brien got himself sent off, before Church grabbed himself a birthday brace to turn the 1-0 lead into a comfortable win. The first was a simple tap-in from an Alfie chip, and the second a well-guided header from Ian Harte’s free-kick (the free-kick that was won from Jack Collison crashing into Kebe).
We typically look back on the results in the second half of that season as the stand-outs, but the 3-0 win over West Ham in December - of which Church was a key part - really showed the whole division what Reading were capable of.