Over the course of its history Reading Football Club has used seven different badges. As you will see, two apart, none of them are similar.
The symbols of the town of Reading have always been its river and abbey. The latter is sadly in such a poor state that it has been years since the public were allowed to walk through its ruins. Today the mainard lion in Forbury Gardens has probably usurped it in the local's minds of local symbols.
Its inclusion therefore in the current badge makes sense, but what is noticeable is that most of the club's badges have had little to do with the town. Some of the designs are remarkably bland and it is probably fair to say that the club have never really had a decent badge.
The current badge has now been in place for such a long time that for a decent number of our fans it will be the only one they know. Our poll at the end is the first time Reading fans have been asked to pick their favourite badge and it will be interesting to see which ones still strike a chord.
The town coat of arms
In early matchday programmes the club used the shield from the town's coat of arms as a crest. Variants of the coat of arms were recorded as far back as 1566, and were based on the common seal of the town, which was in use as early as 1365. So this is a historic crest.
The town’s current crest is a shield with the Queen and four maidens, and clearly show that the town's and club's colours are the same. It is perhaps a shame that the club did not stick with this crest given its such a strong historical emblem of the town.
1953 - The "R" badge
This was the first badge that ever appeared on our kits. It was only used for one season, which was probably a good thing given how boring it looks.
1965 - The badge that never was
This badge appeared the same year the club strangely decided to change our kit to all sky blue in imitation of Coventry City. The pre-season team photo features some players wearing kits with this crest, but it is not clear whether the team did during the season. What is sure is that this badge disappeared very quickly.
The decision to use red and yellow is a bit odd given that neither colours have ever been used by the club as home colours. The design is rather bland, though the font used for the lettering is quite stylish.
1981 - The original elm trees badge
This crest features three elm trees and the two blue moustaches that are a nod to the rivers Thames and Kennet. It only lasted two seasons, which is a shame because it's simple design looks good and represents the club and town.
1987 - The manager's daughter's badge
This badge was adopted after two years when it seems the club did not bother with having a club crest. That in itself perhaps shows how parochial the club was as recently as the 1980s.
This design was a simple presentation of the colours the club wore at the time. There were also rumours that it was designed by Ian Branfoot's daughter. Given the simplicity of the design that could be true.
This badge is possibly the most iconic of all our club badges given it was worn through some of our most notable achievements: winning the Simod Cup, Division Two championship and almost becoming the smallest club that would have appeared in the Premier League (Gillingham are probably a modern day equivalent).
Despite that there is nothing Reading about this badge. The yellow and sky blue would be completely random for the modern day club.
1996 - The Elm Park centenary badges
In honour of the club's centenary at Elm Park they adopted not one but two almost identical badges. The one used on the club's kits was a simple crest, but the one used on programmes, and therefore you would think the official badge, had a banderole (yes I did have to google that).
This was a nice modern version of the original elm trees badge.
1998 - The current badge
The current crest was introduced to coincide with the club's move to the Madejski Stadium. It includes the club colours, a crown to represent the County of Berkshire and a Maiwand Lion to represent Reading.
At the time the club had worn red as an away colour for four seasons in a row so it's inclusion on the badge made sense. However, given the complete randomness of our away colours these days it seems a bit odd to have it on our badge.