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View From The Dolan: The Beamback Derby

Ben talks us through the matchday experience from another disappointing afternoon.

PA Images via Getty Images

QPHahahahahahahahaha! Ah, it’s been too long since we locked horns in the J1-J11 M4 derby. Of course, it would have been easy to forget there was an actual game of actual football actually on, such was the furore (love that word, so dramatic) before the 90 minutes of mayhem even began. If you’ve been living a solitary life recently/aren’t on the Twitter, this is what happened in the run-up (for context, Reading are “we” and QPR are “them/they”):

  • We gave them a full allocation of away tickets.
  • They promptly chucked them on general sale (GENERAL SALE!) and sold them all because it’s technically a local derby.
  • They then realised the error of their ways, apologised to their “loyal” fans and asked us to, and I quote, “beam the back” to their stadium.
  • We declined because they were unwilling to pay for a live feed they aren’t entitled to.

Cue Twitter savagery! Just funny, innit. And to be fair, speaking from experience, I’ve been to many games between our clubs where they haven’t sold our away end out and vice versa. Just because you’ve won a few games. Anyway, I’m drawing a circle in the soil about this. I won’t mention it again… until the next paragraph.

I mean, a beamback?! Absolute lols! As I awoke on gameday, I still found myself chuckling. Brushed my teeth = chuckled. Walked into the Co-op = chuckled. Hung up some clean t-shirts and put them back in the wardrobe = chuckled. Honestly, the whole charade just made me really laugh.

The game was obviously the first opportunity we’d potentially get to see the new faces who joined at the end of the transfer window, which, I won’t lie, was exciting. It might end in tears with those players, it might not. Plenty has been said about Dann and Drinkwater in the last two weeks, but they are here and they are ready (or so I thought, until I found out they were injured, so...)

With the excitement fizzing around me like a mento in a bottle of coke, I arose early, went for a 5k run (#weekendathlete), smashed a French press coffee and fiddled with my fantasy team. I resisted the urge to chuck in some Portuguese fella called Ronaldo and instead kept the faith with the team that had got me to the dizzy heights of second in our ultra-competitive footie team mini league.

I’d decided to wear the new goalie top (because I’m ground-breaking) as the weather was changing and we were at home. I went for jeans with this, but as I opened the front door to leave the house, I realised I’d made a terrible error and quickly stumbled back up the stairs to change into shorts. Would this be the last game of the season I’d be able to do this? I wasn’t sure, so thought I’d milk it for all it was worth.

The four miles to the ground was completed quickly, the smoothness of the T-Roc on the roads of Reading once again delighting me and yet again reminding me that I will never, ever not lease a car again from Reading’s premium car-leasing company, Select Car Leasing (who I do indeed lease from and will continue to do so in the future).

Upon arrival at the queue for the old greyhound stadium car park, I was miffed to see a large Audi push in front of the three cars before me, holding his hands up as if to say “yeah, I was in the wrong lane, I’m sorry, but I’m now straddling two lanes of traffic and I’m technically a hazard to other road users, so please let me in”. Personally, I’d have let him take his chances marooned in the middle of the road, but there are better people than me out there and the car park was quite empty, so it didn’t matter.

(Side note: I’ve realised that I’ve mentioned Select Car Leasing a few rows above and that you might think I’m angling for some sort of discount on my lease OR sponsorship of my column. That couldn’t be further from the truth… but let’s say, hypothetically, they DID get in touch and they DID want to offer me something, I’d take a reduced down payment on my next lease which is due in December 2022. Hypothetically, of course).

I got to the concourse in time to meet my mate Milan, watch Spurs unravel and see some fella called Olise (never heard of him) make his debut in the CP/Spurs game. A few lagers later (1.5 pints for me, before anyone calls the police and says I was over the limit) and it was up to the seated bowl of the Berkshire Arena. It didn’t take me long to realise that the stewards in the Lower West Stand had their work cut out, as more than a handful of QPR fans had bought tickets and were making mischief amongst the home support, many of whom in that area were families.

The half wore on and we got to the 45 level at 1-1. I genuinely don’t think I’d been more angry or ashamed of my club at that point, for antics off and on the field. On it, we were lethargic, positionally unaware and disinterested. Off it, I felt the situation was becoming more and more dangerous by the minute. My dad made the point that, seemingly, not many (if any) of our fans had reacted to the provocation they were receiving. I’m not sure what I would have done if I’d turned up to my seat in the Dolan to be greeted by away fans.

We went down for a beer (me - water) at half time, but two minutes before the second half kicked off, we gave up - again , more on that in a bit. I quickly went to the toilet and was so pissed off I deliberately went the wrong way to which the arrow was telling me to go. Of course, pay-back is never far away and as I went to wash my hands, I was scolded by the water which was, I’m pretty sure, at least 85 degrees.

The second half exploded (read the match report if you want a break-down) which was enhanced no end by a John Swift super hat-trick. But of course, sorrow and despair are never far from this club, as the players managed to throw away a two-goal cushion in 14 minutes to end the game with one point. Quite spectacular really.

Reading v Queens Park Rangers - Sky Bet Championship - Madjeski Stadium Photo by Simon Galloway/PA Images via Getty Images

And now, I shall share my exact feelings: I honestly just feel like we are shooting ourselves in the foot both on and off the field in everything we are doing as a club at the moment. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to justify the decisions everyone at the club is making. I’ve spoken time and again about the catering on the concourse and of the availability of matchday staff and the actual services we are offering off the pitch.

This season alone (and remember we’ve only had three league games so far at home) we’ve had people not physically being able to get into the ground because their ST hasn’t been delivered, the programme has been canned, you physically can’t buy food and drink on the concourses because there tends to be only one till open, away fans buying tickets in the home end and then being allowed to stay in the ground, and parking at the ground going up by £5. That’s in two months. Haven’t even touched upon the fact that we’ve now taken four points from a possible 18 and lie in the relegation zone.

We have a core support of 6/7k who would go to watch our team regardless of the division. Wrexham, a team in non-league, have sold nearly 6,000 season tickets. Know why? Because their club engages with them, excites them and has a plan which is communicated and shared. It would be bloody wonderful if we could have a hint of that. At the moment, we are sleepwalking into commercial, financial and football disaster and it’s disgusting and frustrating to see.

Until next time. Probably.