Having visited some uni friends in Cardiff on Friday, I had intended to go to Saturday’s game against Sheffield Wednesday from South Wales on Saturday morning. However, when I got to Cardiff station, it was announced that my train had been cancelled (thanks Great Western Railways), and the next one I could get would mean I would only catch the second half of the game.
I think I made the logical decision to just miss the game entirely and, whilst I was naturally frustrated that this would be the case, I didn’t really care as much as I probably should have. It was indicative to me of just how unenthusiastic I feel towards Reading Football Club right now.
This apathy comes after the worst year results-wise (in the Championship, at least) the team have had in my 12 years as a supporter. Of the 52 league games we’ve played since the start of 2017/18, just 10 have ended in victory, and only half of those wins have been at home. Having gone through our worst run of results in living memory last season (one league win in 18), we’re now currently enduring our worst start to a league campaign for 21 years.
It’s a depressing time to be a Reading fan.
We’ve lost so many games in the last year that I’ve almost become numb to the feeling of defeat. I don’t feel angry or disappointed, just ‘meh’. I feel similarly uninterested about the future of Paul Clement. To say that I’m not bothered about whether he stays or goes makes it seem as if I don’t care - which isn’t the issue.
I certainly do care, but I also realise that simply changing the manager is unlikely to make much of a difference (shout-out to @blickbuster on Twitter for summing this up perfectly). I could sit here for hours writing about what’s wrong with Reading at the moment, so it certainly isn’t a quick fix.
A simple point is that the team just isn’t that exciting. They don’t inspire you and they don’t get you off your seat. Even when we finished third in 2016/17, you rarely turned up to a game expecting to be entertained by Reading.
You expected them to be clinical and usually get the all-important three points, which is fine when you are indeed winning games, but when those victories dry up as they have done, there’s virtually nothing to get enthused about at games apart from the opportunity to ‘back the boys’, which for me will always remain the constant. Just because right now it’s hard to care about what is happening, that doesn’t mean I’ll ever stop supporting the team.
I love Reading Football Club and I always will. I love writing about Reading Football Club and I love hosting a podcast about Reading Football Club. I would be absolutely distraught if it ceased to exist, and I suppose that provides some perspective in the fact we still have a football club to support.
I’ll end by pointing out that I’m not alone in this disillusionment. Last season the average attendance at the Madejski Stadium in the league was 15,181, approximately a 2,000 decrease on the other average seasonal attendances since we were relegated from the Premier League (a 4,000 decrease from 2013/14). Already this campaign, albeit after just three games, that figure is down further – to 14,864.
To their credit, the club are doing what they can to boost those numbers with commendable ticket deals – midweek mates’ rates, £5 for the 500th Madejski Stadium game, ticket bundles and introducing the 18-24 band – but really the only thing that will consistently bring more fans through the turnstiles is what happens on the pitch, which right now is abject.
When that changes is anyone’s guess, but I sure hope it’s soon because I want to feel engaged with and excited by my football club again.
Do you feel the same as Olly? Leave us a comment below.