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The Tilehurst End Advent Calendar: December 24

On a glorious April day at the Mad Stad, a young Irishman came of age.

FA Cup: West Bromwich Albion v Reading Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images

Shane Long

Position: Striker

Nationality: Irish

Total Reading FC Appearances: 197

Total Reading FC Goals: 53

Memorable Moment

Brought in as part of a bargain deal from Cork City that also involved Kevin Doyle, Long was always meant to be one for the future. First team strikers Dave Kitson and Doyle hit the most goals that season - each getting 18 in the league - whilst then-record signing Leroy Lita notched 11 in the Championship after costing an eye-watering ONE MILLION POUNDS from Bristol City.

Giphy

The red-hot form of those three meant that poor old Shane managed just one start in the league all season, although he did come off the bench 10 times. It was on one of those occasions, a home match against Derby County, when Long picked his time to shine.

Goals from James Harper, Doyle and John Oster had the Royals 3-0 up by the 70th minute - with Sheffield United dropping points against Stoke City at the same time, Steve Coppell’s team were well on their way to sealing the Championship title. They’d already got promotion a week earlier, drawing 1-1 at Leicester City.

With 72 minutes on the clock, on came Long for compatriot Doyle. Just two minutes later, it was 4-0 - clever interplay between Oster and Graeme Murty before the latter whipped in a cross to the near post; Long steering in a header at the near post.

Seven minutes to go, and Long had his first ever brace in a Reading shirt, slotting home past Lee Camp from the inside right channel before wheeling away towards the East Stand to celebrate.

Although it would be years before Long eventually achieved his full potential for Reading, Long’s part in that glorious day against Derby showed two things. Firstly, it was a huge endorsement of the scouting at the time, with Reading picking up a big talent for peanuts from the Irish league.

Secondly, it demonstrated the sheer quality that was available to Steve Coppell. Whereas Reading now struggle to find one good goalscorer, back then the manager could call on four. Even when the incredible Doyle, Kitson and Lita weren’t firing, on came Long to score a goal or two.