So here we are then: the final day of a long term when everyone pays a pound to wear their own clothes (biggest scam in the history of the world by the way). The last few weeks have felt like a season in themselves. Even though the mathematical possibility of reaching the play-offs was dashed two games ago, the literature has been on the brick building for a while.
As the rain lashed down on the Royal County like a mutineer being whipped on a naval ship in the 17th century, it occurred to me that the “end game” of each season should be sunny and warm and full of... something, whether that something should be celebration, despair, nervous energy/excitement, relief - any sort of standard emotion really. But in reality, there was nothing for us in this game.
I didn’t care for the team selection (again - see last week’s column for basically the same feeling). Tetek should have started instead of Semedo. There was no real point having the loanees anywhere the squad and this would have been a better game opposition-wise to field the younger players. Southwood celebrated his new contract by being given a start and that was that.
I made myself a crusty roll pre-game (well, I didn’t make it, I’m not a baker. I just filled it with a filling) and settled down to the early KO for the final time this season (and hopefully ever) on iFollow having paid yet another 10 English notes (honestly, I really hope the club recognise this when they knock out the season ticket prices for next year).
We started reasonably well, but it was pretty clear the game was heading into the “pre-season friendly” category as the urgency was low and the intensity wasn’t really intense. A completely avoidable goal was knocked in by the visitors and the criticism of Southwood began instantly from Tim in the old commentator’s box. We equalised soon after through Olise, who was surely making his last appearance in a Reading shirt.
Yakou (in the more forward position) scored to put us in the lead. Shortly after, Mick stated that the players all needed a break by “going to a beach, doing a course or playing golf”. They need a break?! I NEED A BREAK MATE! Any idea how exhausting this ballet of emotions has been this season?! They need a break! Honestly. And how are they going to get to a beach, unless they have good ones in Iceland or the Falkland Islands?! They can’t go anywhere else! Absolute twaddle.
Half time screeched into view like the Coke truck at a modern shopping centre at Christmas and I tucked into the choccy bar I bought from Waitrose earlier in the day. One of the reasons I like Waitrose (aside from the spacious parking bays and the aromatic hand gel at the entrance) is their selection of sugared goods. Sometimes, you just need a Mars bar, other times a simple Cadbury dairy milk will suffice. But today, I went for a Tony’s Bar. Quite spenny at 3.50, but worth it for the chunky texture and creamy flavour. Well done Tony, I salute you.
The second half was the second half. It was boring and stale and a complete waste of everyone’s time, if I’m honest. I lost interest for the last 10 minutes and stuck the Derby/Sheff Wed game on the TV whilst streaming our game on my phone (listen to me! I sound like an American YouTuber!).
It was a bit weird when the Huddersfield GK came up for a corner towards the end of the game (literally no point). Of course, they were able to equalise in the 93rd minute which summed up our season (actually, it didn’t - nothing could sum up this season really, but it just sounds good to be overly dramatic at this point because I have writer’s fatigue and I’ve basically run out of metaphors, non-sexual euphemisms and witty repertoires and if you don’t like it, you’ve only got three more paragraphs to go, so just suck it up and get on with it, yeah?).
And that was that. No more football to be played until August. It appears that a pocket of fans have lost faith in Pauno quicker than the backbenchers of the Labour Party in their own leader (oooh, politics!) but I really hope the owners stick with him and give him a summer to at least sort out the team and make us competitive again.
I can’t be too harsh on this team or the manager. There will be people in the fanbase who call that “tinpot” but I literally couldn’t care less. We’ve been a joy to watch at times this season and we’ve also been hideous. As a Reading fan, it comes with the territory. Chickens don’t vote for Christmas in much the same way we don’t vote for anything less than unpredictability. This season has certainly showed us an abundance of that.
Have a great summer, enjoy the Euros and I hope that the next time I write this column, I will actually be back in the Dolan. God knows it’s been an absolute slog writing this from home, but one I’ve enjoyed immensely. Much like supporting the team this year.
Until next time.
*mic (or pen) drop*