It is that time of year again, when The Tilehurst End Podcast sits down to hand out some notable - and not so notable - Reading FC awards. Drumroll please...
Player of the Year
Previous winners: Alex McCarthy (2013), Jordan Obita (2014), Oliver Norwood (2015), Ali Al Habsi (2016), Liam Moore (2017), Jon Dadi Bodvarsson (2018), Ovie Ejaria (2019), Michael Morrison (2020)
Nominees: Josh Laurent, Luke Southwood, John Swift
Winner: John Swift. Arguably the Championship’s best player for the early months of the season, and a true class act on the pitch that probably won’t be eligible for the 2022 award.
Most Improved Player
Previous winners: Jordan Obita (2013), Jake Cooper (2014), Nick Blackman (2015), Garath McCleary (2016), Liam Kelly (2017), Yakou Meite (2018), John Swift (2019), Omar Richards (2020)
Nominees: John Swift, Tom Holmes, Luke Southwood
Winner: Luke Southwood. From academy hopeful to bona fide Championship first-choice goalkeeper, ousting a former club Player of the Year in the process.
The ‘Hal Robson-Kanu’ Award For Underachievement
Previous winners: Hal Robson-Kanu (2013 & 2014), Jordan Obita (2015), Jake Cooper (2016), Sone Aluko (2017 & 2018), George Puscas (2019), Danny Loader (2020)
Nominees: Liam Moore, George Puscas, Ovie Ejaria
Winner: George Puscas. Probably the most talked-about player among Reading fans all year, and yet after a solid run in the team, he simply hasn’t scored anywhere near enough goals.
Previous winners: Academy Success Story (2014), Bradford FA Cup Win (2015), Piazon clincher versus West Brom in the FA Cup (2016), Fulham 2nd Leg PO Win (2017), Mannone penalty save versus QPR (2018), The Wigan Comeback (2019), Fans; return v Forest (2020)
Nominees: Beating Bournemouth in January, fans celebrating John Swift’s goal at Stoke, beating Fulham away, Andy Carroll’s Swansea celebration
Winner: Reading 3-1 Bournemouth. The high point of Reading’s 2021 arrived in January with a scintillating Friday night display against a promotion rival in front of the TV cameras.
Previous winners: Birmingham 6-1 Reading (2014), Arsenal’s winner at Wembley (2015), Handling of Brian McDermott’s sacking (2016), Moore’s Wembley penalty (2017), Ipswich 0-4 (2018), Fulham 1-4 (2019), Wigan 0-3 (2020)
Nominees: Lucas Joao’s miss versus Barnsley, losing Michael Olise, dropping a 2-0 lead versus Blackpool, the six-point deduction
Winner: The six-point deduction. No matter what way you spin it, this punishment for financial mismanagement was a sickening blow for the club.
Previous winners: Burnley pitch invasion (2014), Lady Sasima’s song (2015), HRK goal v Belgium (2016), Piazon returning to troll (2017), Ipswich scoring from our corner (2018), Bowen’s appointment (2019), Ayub Timbe Kenyan fandom (2020)
Nominees: Losing to Wycombe away, Dai Yongge running on the pitch, Andy Carroll’s goal celebration at Swansea, Kingsley’s whereabouts
Winner: Dai Yongge running on the pitch. Even without any context, the sight of Reading’s elusive quinquagenarian owner going for a post-match jog on the pitch was just plain comedy.
The ‘Pavel Pogrebnyak’ Most Missed Reading Player
Previous winners: Adam Federici (2015), Aaron Tshibola (2016), Danny Williams (2017), Jordan Obita (2018), Lewis Baker (2019), Lucas Joao (2020)
Nominees: Michael Olise, Lucas Joao, Yakou Meite, Andy Rinomhota
Winner: Lucas Joao. For the second year in a row, the striker’s injury absence has hit the team hard, with his best form also deserting us early on in 2021.
Previous winners: Royston Drenthe (2013), Dominic Samuel (2014), Jonathan Bond (2015), Yakou Meite (2016), Omar Richards (2017), Danny Loader (2018), Michael Olise (2019), Dejan Tetek (2020)
Nominees: Kelvin & Princewill Ehibathioman, Jahmari Clarke, Rashawn Scott, Michael Stickland, Femi Azeez, Jack Senga
Winner: Femi Azeez. The academy winger has already shown glimpses of his talent, so hopefully a fully-fit 2022 will cement his place in the first-team.