It’s a well-known fact that the Madejski Stadium atmosphere hasn’t been great at the best of times in recent years. Until now, there appeared to be no one to save us from this predicament. But we may well have found our Superman to our Lois Lane.
Or rather Supermen (and women). This is because, as you’ll have seen if you were at the Mad Stad last Saturday, a group of fans in the South Stand have put the foundations in place for a new singing section to make the atmosphere much more positive.
At present nameless (all suggestions welcome), the group was started by a bunch of fans simply keen to improve the atmosphere. After numerous ideas being thrown about, they decided to organise a small section of supporters to move to the South Stand against Preston to see how well a singing section would work in practice. That’s what is so brilliant about this idea - it is entirely fan-driven. Whilst the club are facilitating it, the whole thing has been created, co-ordinated and powered by supporters who just love their football club.
Some of us from The Tilehurst End were lucky enough to be part of this ‘trial’, and can’t speak highly enough of how well it was arranged and carried out by the fans in charge, and how important it is that it’s not just a one-off. It was a hugely enjoyable experience, and for me encapsulated what football is all about - having a laugh with friends and fellow fans whilst uniting to support the one thing we all have in common: Reading Football Club. There were old chants, new chants and ‘what the hell are we singing?’ chants, as we helped cheer on the team to victory.
There may well have been no more than 50 of us, but these things have to start off small. The superb atmosphere at clubs such as Portsmouth, Huddersfield and Crystal Palace wasn’t built in a day. The idea is that other fans will understand what the group is trying to achieve and thus help it grow. Fortunately, this does seem to be the case. After the original jokes about how odd it looked on Saturday, I think (and hope) that most fans were in support of the idea and were keen for it to be taken further. The reaction on social media seems to be largely positive, with plenty of supporters keen to join in.
The likes of Paul McShane, Garath McCleary and Chris Gunter were amongst those to praise the efforts of the South Stand group, which was fantastic to see. If you’re being sceptical then you may say that these were formulated by their respective media managers, but if even if they were, it’s great to get recognition from those who ultimately the atmosphere effects the most. It’s been clear in the past that the players are desperate for the atmosphere to improve, and anything we as fans can do to give them that extra bit of motivation is always worth it.
You had a right go good on you all ⚪️thank you. pic.twitter.com/gR84o5dDUe— Chris Gunter (@Chrisgunter16) April 7, 2018
One of the key things to note is that this proposed singing section isn’t trying to compete with any other areas of the ground. In fact it’s the opposite, as the ultimate aim is to try and get a great atmosphere going all around the stadium. This may be a pipe dream at present, but if fans see the success that the new group has, then they could be encouraged to join in, wherever they sit.
Eagle eyed fans around the ground would have noticed that a megaphone was used in a rather light-hearted manner to drive the noise in the South Stand. It is an idea that isn’t as laughable as many cynics will have you believe. Whilst megaphones aren’t all too common in football crowds in this country, they are often used to help the atmosphere in Europe and the Americas - including in Borussia Dortmund’s infamous ‘Yellow Wall’. It is only their current absence in England that makes the introduction a daft proposition. If used well, they can be a very welcome addition to a singing section.
I’ll end by saying that if you don’t like the idea of the new singing section then that is absolutely fine. No one is forcing you to go and join the group, or even like it. I’m not even sure if I would go there regularly in the long-term myself. But please acknowledge that this is a superb fan-driven idea to try and improve the atmosphere, something that is far too often criticised by anyone visiting RG2. Hopefully this can progress into something special, and the Madejski can have at least one wall of noise every game.
There are indeed plans for the South Stand to house a group of fans at the fixture against Sunderland this weekend, and if all goes well, the final home game against Ipswich later on this month too. If you do want to get involved, please get in touch with us at The Tilehurst End, and we’ll put you in contact with the relevant people.