Adam Le Fondre
- Position: Centre forward
- Nationality: English
- Total Reading FC appearances: 110
- Total Reading FC goals: 41
(Side note before we begin - there are plenty of memorable moments we could have picked, so this was a tough decision. If you’re reading this Alfie, cheers for the memories).
Where were you on the night of Friday 13th April 2012? Well, the Reading team were down in Southampton for a huge match against Nigel Adkins’ Southampton - a team that had been top of the Championship for 34 out of the 42 fixtures till that point. In fact, the Saints had largely been competing for the title with recently relegated West Ham United, who the Royals had disposed of by four goals to two at Upton Park just under two weeks before.
In contrast, I was on my way back from Berlin, having spent a few days in the German capital on a school history trip. Annoyingly, the flight overlapped with the first half of the game at St Mary’s (my school evidently thought education took precedence over who won the title - bizarre, right?), so I was reliant on texts from my mum to keep me up to speed.
...was what flashed up when my Nokia was hurriedly switched on as the plan taxied at Heathrow. Cue me grinning like a chump in front of ignorant passengers, students and teachers.
“My team’s winning in a really important game, Miss”.
Except... now they’re not. 1-1.
When you’ve not got any way of following a match remotely, it’s the not hearing anything that’s the difficult bit. April 2012 was before the days of me owning a smartphone, and the British Civil Aviation Authority are - to this day - yet to install mega-sized plasma TVs in security at major airports. Disgraceful, if you ask me.
Delirium then erupts in Heathrow Airport - albeit only for me and no one else. It’s at this point that a school mate who happens to own an iPhone (complete with internet!) asks me if I want to borrow it so that I can listen to the match. Henry Parker, you’re a hero.
Fast-forward 18 minutes: Reading are holding onto their 2-1 lead, and we belatedly get to the memorable moment of this TTE Advent Calendar entry.
Federici kicks it long, the ball’s deflected by a Southampton player to Noel Hunt who flicks it over the top for Le Fondre to chase. Jose Fonte seems to have control of the situation, but Alfie harries the defender with such tenacity that he pinches the ball, takes it past Kelvin Davis... and slots home.
In doing so, he completes one of the most important braces in recent Reading history, and all but seals promotion and the title for the Royals. In fact, those two goals put us top of the Championship for the first time since 2006.
Cut to the pick-up zone at Heathrow, where a shy 17 year-old, then known to his school mates and teachers as the quiet one in the corner, is dancing with sheer, irrepressible joy in front of all of them.
Annoyingly, there’s no embarrassing footage of that to share here, so instead I’ll leave you with a fan’s video from YouTube.