In some circles there is one Reading goal more famous than any other. It’s not Kevin Doyle putting Reading in the Premiership, or Mikele Leigertwood guiding home an Ian Harte free-kicks to send us up a second time. It’s not Shane Long nodding past Diego Cavalieri, or Garath McCleary equalising at Wembley. In fact, many would argue that it’s not a goal at all.
I still don’t know who is meant to have scored it. In the official record it’s down as a John Eustace own goal, but that seems a tad harsh seeing as the ball never crossed the goal line. In fact, it never got close.
Of course, the infamous ghost goal came against Watford at Vicarage Road, mere weeks into Reading’s first season back in the Championship after their relegation from the top division. Stuart Attwell - nowadays a Premier League official - mystifyingly gave the goal out of, quite literally, nothing. A Stephen Hunt corner was poorly dealt with by Eustace, before Noel Hunt hooked the ball back into a melee where Reading rattled the bar and had a shot blocked. Attwell’s assistant, however, saw a goal somewhere and the referee signalled back toward the halfway line.
Stephen Hunt allegedly argued with the referee over it, but at the end of the day Reading did nothing to make amends. What would have happened had the goal not been given, we’ll never know, but the home side seemed spurred on by the injustice. In the end it took an 87th-minute penalty by Stephen Hunt to rescue a point.