To mark Reading’s 500th game at the Mad Stad this Saturday against Burton Albion, we’ll be sharing all of our favourite moments from the greatest sporting arena on earth. Will’s had his go, now representing the mid-20s category, Marc shares his stories.
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September 14 2002: Reading 0-1 Wimbledon
“Jobi McAnuff? What kind of stupid name is that.” I surmised as I checked Teletext having got back home from my first Reading game. A kid-for-a-quid, 1-0 defeat at home to Wimbledon. It was won by a last minute header from some up-and-coming winger with, in this humble eight-year-old’s opinion, a stupid name.
Game You Missed But Wish You Were There
January 30 2012: Reading 2-2 Chelsea
Being at uni for the bulk of the 2012/13 Premier League season, my experience of Reading grabbing a point off Chelsea in the dying embers came during pre-drinks in my freshers halls. Having a Blues supporting flatmate, we both heard about the result via our dad’s phoning us in completely differing moods.
January 1 2007: Reading 6-0 West Ham
Generally speaking, my top 10 or 15 favourite Reading games are all outside Berkshire, such is the joy of winning away, but the maiden Premier League season involved a number of absolute gems. Drawing against United, beating Spurs and Villa and Liverpool (the year after) all stand up tall for me. And yet, putting six past the team that can most reasonably be described as our ‘biggest rival’ across my support of the Royals was simply majestic.
April 30 2016: Reading 1-2 Preston North End
How not to end an era. I’ll always love what Brian McDermott did for the club but I have no love for his second coming at the Mad Stad, not because of his own failings but for every other facet of it. That awful season came to a close in typically disheartening fashion as Preston won it in the last minute, the rain poured, everyone buggered off home, and our own fans booed and demanded the sacking of one of the club’s greatest ever servants. Speaking of which...
Best Reading Goal
May 2 2010: Reading 4-1 Preston North End
The end to this season was atypically relaxing. McDermott had taken us away from the drop-zone and into play-off sniffing territory, enjoying a cup run in the meantime. The particular goal I’m thinking of was Simon Church netting the fourth in stoppage time to seal an entertaining end of season affair which itself could have had its own goal of the month competition. Church’s goal was a powerful volley from the edge of the area, nothing overly special in itself, but just a genuinely satisfying, feel good, nice-way-to-round-it-all-off strike that marked a moment of great, justified optimism at the club.
That whole period can be summed up by what Brian told the press afterwards: "It was a fantastic way to finish. From the 11 games we've had at home since I took charge we won nine, which is not a bad effort, and the goals will stay with us over the summer. We don't want the season to end so if anyone fancies a game, give us a call.”
Best Opposition Goal
September 23 2006: Reading 1-1 Manchester United
Everyone rightly remembers this game for Doyle’s goal and Gary Neville’s expression of sheer disgust at giving away a handball penalty, but I’ve always taken away the memory of Ronaldo’s bullet past Marcus Hanhemann as something of a privilege to watch. This was a blink and you’ll miss it goal. The winger plucked the ball from the air on the left flank, and within approximately eight miliseconds, he’d turned Murty inside out and buried it from 16 yards. Flawless.
October 22 2006: Reading 0-4 Arsenal
While the pitch invasion for seventh place was a shocker, I’ll always chuckle when thinking about how Thierry Henry opened the scoring against us in 2006. Going into the game, there was talk that Reading hadn’t conceded in front of the North Stand for around 12 months. Within 58 seconds of Arsenal turning up, Henry sidefooted home with so much ease, it was as if little old Reading didn’t even matter, the goal itself met with a typically Thierry shrug-of-the-shoulders non-celebration.
One Thing You Would Change
Being a North-East corner veteran, I have always somewhat resented how the passionate support at the Mad Stad is split into two opposing corners. I’ve never been a fan of the idea that Y26 holds the most vociferous fans and calls to get rid of the drummer were, in my mind, f*****g stupid. Now the drummer has gone, the North-East is quieter, duh, and Y26 can’t make up for it because it exists purely to rile the away fans. Reading will never have anything like an exceptional atmosphere while the singing section remains in the South-East corner.