I watched the Bristol City-Wolves match on December 30, and I definitely knew which team I wanted to win. Only a few days earlier City had become the first team to do the double over Jaap Stam’s Royals, yet it was the Robins I was urging on.
Why this curious conversion to the cause of Bristol City? Of course it had nothing to do with them. The point was that I badly wanted Wolves to lose. Nuno Espirito Santo’s team is seriously threatening something very dear to my heart – and that of every Royal. Our cherished record of 106 points in a season is in their sights.
Every title-winning season has season-defining games, decisive markers that set champions on their way. That win at Ashton Gate was one such. If the Robins had won Wolves’ lead over them would have been cut to just five points. A fourth defeat of the season would have made Wolves seem catchable, and equally important, beatable.
Instead they opened up a lead of ten points over second-placed Derby County. What has seemed clear over the last month or so now looks like an inevitability – Wolverhampton Wanderers are going to be in the Premier League next season, and they’ll get there as champions. The only issue at the top of the Championship is who will go up with them.
Wolves have that unmistakable blend of authority, confidence and quality that marked out Reading as we ended 2005 at the top of the table. They currently have 61 points from 26 games. At the same point of 2005-06 Reading had 65 points.
Wanderers have 20 matches to amass 46 points and beat our record. Their current points per game ratio would see them amass 107 points. They may slow down a little as the season moves on – even Steve Coppell’s Royals did – but they will either come close to matching 106 points – or exceed that.
If they do, my summer will be filled with gloom. Let’s face it, since Reading returned to the Championship we’ve had little to get excited about – a run to the FA Cup semifinal and last season’s playoff final is about it.
But there is one thing we’ve been able to cling on to. Whenever the opposition remind us we’ve won eff all, our response is always loud and defiant: “We’ve got the record, one hundred and six.”
As Royals it’s something of which we’re deeply proud – an achievement that nobody has bettered. This really matters to us. Now Wolves threaten to take it away from us. Please, please, can somebody beat them?
Points after 26 games
Reading 2005/06: 65
Wolves 2017/18: 61
Goals difference after 26 games
Reading 2005/06: +40
Wolves 2017/18: +30