There were two thoughts that went through my head when I started my new Monday-Friday job in the Midlands a few months ago: ‘I can’t wait to be close to my family again’ and ‘I can’t wait to dedicate my Saturdays to Reading FC again’. With the start of the new season drawing ever closer, I decided to have a run through of my favourite away days.
I’ll be looking at the ones I’m not so keen on in a later article.
The Top Five
5. Bolton Wanderers
A more modern ground with a bit of a personality. The stadium has a lovely setting with hills as a backdrop which is best appreciated when you leave the motorway to get to it.
I’ve stayed at the hotel a couple of times and it’s a good game to make a weekend of with its close proximity to Manchester. The Macron Stadium may not be up there for the most fantastic atmosphere, but it’s a pleasant match day experience all the same.
Reading visit The Macron on November 21.
4. Preston North End
The last time I went to Preston it was the most miserable weather I have ever watched football in. Soaked through, the stewards were wonderfully welcoming and the whole atmosphere was very friendly. I also discovered a Butter Pie and my life changed (slightly) forever.
If you intend to go up there in a couple of weeks’ time, try it. I promise you won’t regret it. Preston have also played on the same plot of land since January 1875, making the spot in PR1 the oldest professional footballing site in continuous use in the world. Deepdale is definitely worth a visit if you’re a bit of a football geek like me.
Reading visit Deepdale on August 19.
There’s always something that’s really charming about going to Fulham, from the time you get off the tube at Putney Bridge right up until you can see the Cottage from your seat.
As long as you’re not sat on the far end of the stand where you’re effectively closer to the river than the football pitch, then you usually get a pretty good view too. Memories of last season’s fantastic result here in the play-off semi-final hopefully won’t have faded too much by the time we get to visit here on a warm April evening.
Reading visit Craven Cottage on April 10.
2. Nottingham Forest
I always like a trip back to my birth city and Mum and I enjoy a walk down the River Trent before a match. I’ve still never got my head round how the stairs work to get up to the seats mind. Some go up to the top half of the bottom tier and some go down to the lower half. It’s a bit of a lottery which is fun to start with until you try and find your way back to your seat after popping out to the concourse.
The away end is a bit damp. There’s never much space. Some of the toilets are still metal. However, there’s always a great atmosphere and I’ve always seen a fair amount of goals there. I’d say the City Ground is pretty special.
Reading visit The City Ground on February 20.
I’m proud to say I’m a Salopian and I will always boast about my Midlands roots. However, if there was anywhere else in the UK I’d like to live, I’d probably take a punt at Yorkshire. I know there’s a few teams in that part of the world, but one of the fixtures I always look for when they’re released in June is when I get to go up to Barnsley.
I was genuinely sad when they were relegated but delighted when I was able to return there last season. I’m not sure I can entirely put my finger on why I love a trip to Oakwell; it’s not glamourous by any stretch. But I quite like the old stand with the old turnstiles as you walk down the hill towards the ground. I like how you feel close to the players as they come out of the tunnel by the away end.
It’s a sizeable stand where they house the away fans, but it still feels quite cosy. The stewards are ridiculously friendly and the fan base is fantastic too; just check out their Twitter hashtag to see what I mean.
Basically, Oakwell is just really, really nice. I’m looking forward to wrapping up warm and getting up there with my leftover Christmas food in December!
Reading visit Oakwell on December 30 (wrap up warm).
Which away days are you looking forward to this season? Let us know in the comments below!