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Hunty’s Column: Welcome Back & Bray’s Bother

Hunty returns after the summer break to talk Reading’s summer and some strife at Bray Wanderers

Queens Park Rangers v Sheffield United - npower Championship Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images

Hello everyone, welcome back to another season! I had great pride at how we ended up last season despite the unhappy ending. Hope you’ve all had a good summer!

Over the past few weeks we’ve had great news with the new longer term contracts for Jaap Stam, John Swift, Liam Moore and Chris Gunter plus the interesting new signings of Modou Barrow Vito Mannone, Jon Dadi Bodvarsson and Pelle Clement.

At the same time, it was sad to see Ali Al-Habsi go, who was a top keeper and top bloke. It was the same to a lesser degree with Danny Williams who really came into his own consistently towards the end of his last season.

On to a new season and once again no one seems to rate us and that's fine by me. The spending in the league has gone crazy, which seems to have hindered Stam’s plans. Yet while other clubs like Aston Villa spend millions to allow Terry and the ‘Dad's Army’ to ride off in to the sunset laughing, they perhaps don't have our manager, team spirit or togetherness that gets you through a very long season in the Championship.

First Day Blues

OK we lost to the fake hoops, which caused the predictable melt down on social media. Remember though, it's one game, with half a team missing and only six subs!

We have til the end of August to get the balance of our squad right and I’m sure Stam will get there but right now he's not a happy bunny due to the lack of incoming players at the club. Fortunately I think we’ll soon see a lot of activity very quickly, as we can't afford to be playing catch up too soon.

Stam is still learning and will still make mistakes just as he did last year. Moore, for as good as he is, really needs Paul McShane alongside him for just a little while longer. Stephen Quinn can replace Williams if he gets fit, and if we can turn Mr Oliviera’s weekend tantrum into a move than that’s another big problem solved...

Bray’s Bothers

However if you want something to put the smile back on your face, welcome to the mad world of my local club in Ireland, Bray Wanderers. You might remember them as a club who Reading played before our last Premier League season as part of the deal when Pierce Sweeney joined the club.

The club's ground is right next to a train line and local pubs. The stadium is decent enough for this level despite poor crowds, but since I moved here five years ago all I have ever heard is the owners allegedly want to sell off the ground, relocate and apparently one day have an Academy like Barcelona or Chelsea (if you believe the hype!)

This is a club, who until the last season or two has been struggling to stay in the top league. Then, last season saw a top ten finish, and this season it was up to third and looking at Europe... until the money ran out.

Apparently part of the problem was an unsustainable playing budget... sound familiar Reading fans?

Having met the guys that run the club, in my opinion it could be renamed the ‘Mickey Mouse Clubhouse’. The League of Ireland gave them a licence and then during a game the Chairman sent out a rant that saw him ultimately resign.

What followed was more bizarre ranting which included topics ranging from the 1916 uprising to North Korea... not exactly endearing stuff.

They’re extreme examples of the type of rant that some of us, myself included, have done when the World’s getting to us and we’ve had a bit too much to drink. We ramble, rant, hit send and then pass out.... You then wake up the next day, thinking ‘Did I send that last night? oh f**k I didn't I? Oh s**t, I did!’ That then leads you to feel utterly paranoid and scared the entire world is staring at you.

So remember folks, always take that time to re-think before you hit send!

Back to the club itself and fortunately finance now seems to have been secured until the end of next season, although rumours still swirl that players are unhappy. The league form has dropped as we’re down to fifth but we all sit here and wait for the next chapter to unfold.

With all of that going on at my local club, what happened on the opening day doesn’t quite seem so bad!

Enjoy the season urzzzzz

Cheers!

Johnny