Up until the end of the year, we’ll be looking back at some of the stand-out Reading moments from the last ten years, whether they’re good or bad memories. Want to get involved by writing about your own favourite moment? Get in touch on Twitter or over email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
To kick us off, I’m going back to February 2016 for an achievement that Reading used to be familiar with, but haven’t repeated since: knocking a Premier League side out of the FA Cup. In this case, a 3-1 win over top-tier West Bromwich Albion.
At the time, Reading were wallowing in mid-table ignominy. Steve Clarke had been relieved of his duties as manager a few months prior, with cup-upset expert Brian McDermott brought back to the dugout to replace him, but unfortunately McDermott couldn’t copy the short-term success he had in his first spell.
The FA Cup was another matter though. Having drawn 2-2 at Huddersfield in the third round - the second year in a row that Reading faced the Terriers away from home at that stage of the competition - the Royals romped to a 5-2 victory in the replay. A 4-0 rout of League One Walsall wasn’t bad either.
In the fifth round, West Brom were up at the Mad Stad - the toughest test so far. It only got more difficult in the second half when Darren Fletcher put a low drive past Ali Al Habsi in front of the away end.
But Reading responded with two well-taken set-piece goals. Both times, Oli Norwood swung free kicks from deep into the area, both times a centre half nodded home. First Paul McShane equalised on 59 minutes, and around quarter of an hour later it was Michael Hector’s turn. Even Lucas Piazon got in on the scoring act late on, putting the game to bed well into injury time when Reading were otherwise holding onto their lead.
In an otherwise disappointing spell back in Berkshire, this was surely the highlight of Brian McDermott’s return. A top performance against Premier League opposition in front of a bumper Mad Stad crowd, it felt like a return to the good ol’ days of plucky Reading giving bigger teams a bloody nose. We’re yet to repeat such a day, but I only look back on it more fondly as a result.
My underlying memory of that day though was the atmosphere. With Reading 2-1 up in the late stages, and West Brom not doing a particularly good job of getting back into the game, we had a party in Y26. The stand below us literally shook as hundreds if not thousands of Loyal Royals bounced up and down to the tune of one of Reading’s best chants in years.
Ola, Ola, Ola John...
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