Well, well, well, if it isn’t Mr “Two Wins on the Bounce”? Who’d have thought that a few weeks ago, eh?!
I seriously contemplated not going to the game, in all honesty. Saturday was emotionally draining (in a good way), it was cold and dark, I wanted to watch Planet Earth (phenomenal TV, by the way) and the game was just unappealing. And then I thought about those Carlisle United fans travelling 7,000 miles to the game and the fact that we hadn’t played them in 40 years and I put on my big-boy coat, an extra pair of socks and got on with the job in hand.
I honestly don’t know why I do it to myself, but I stopped yet again at the Esso on Berkeley Avenue to pick up a coffee and light snack. I won’t name the brand (it’s Starbucks), but it’s genuinely the worst coffee you can get from an express machine. Snack-wise, I just went for a Milkybar as it’s the festive season and I’m old enough to know what I like without being held back by historically poor advertising from my confectionary choices.
Say what you want about how bad things have been (very bad), but as I parked up I could see money changing hands (digitally) at an impressive rate in the mega shop. Yes, the deals are quite phenomenal at the moment, but the fans are still chucking pennies into the coffers. It just goes to show that a decent line in Christmas tat and some solid training wear will never not sell.
I arrived in my seat seconds before the tribute to Terry Venables, which was very well done, I have to say. Great manager and, even as a Wales fan, I have fond memories of that summer in 1996 when England were easily one of the best teams in the tournament and were a Gareth Southgate penalty away from the final.
It didn’t surprise me in the slightest that I was the only living being in my row, which made sense as there were only 7,000 in the entire seated bowl. One for the casuals this was not, but the hardy souls that turned up were treated to a proper show. I won’t go through the goals individually but the first three were bizarre. An own goal, a “smart finish” (according to the website) and a toe poke just about summed up the quality on show. I had a face like a butcher in Kwik Save after we’d conceded but we were able to pull it round.
At half-time, I seriously considered going to sit in my car for a bit just to warm up, but I couldn’t feel my knees, so I resorted to tucking my legs up into my body like some sort of mutant shelled creature and pulled my jacket over them to conserve both energy and warmth.
It worked to a point, but then I realised that, in my haste to get warm, I’d leant on my Milkybar, which had been in my pocket, and it was split into at least six pieces. I couldn’t bear to open it, so took it out of my pocket and laid it carefully on the concrete below me, almost like I was conducting a memorial for a fallen comrade.
The second half began after a fairly weird half-time in which literally nothing happened, the music appeared to be turned down to “low” (not that that was a bad thing) and the ball people played a game of one-touch on the blue side track. The stands were also as barren as a pumpkin farm in November, with fans - I’d imagine - heading down to the concourses to huddle together like penguins do in a snowstorm.
Not a huge amount happened on the pitch, except for the fact that we scored another two goals and, according to the scoreline, ran riot. I don’t think it was as comfortable as the result suggested, but we were certainly the better team and didn’t deserve to do anything but win the game.
Lewis Wing’s goal was the pick of the bunch, with Jeriel Dorsett, Harvey Knibbs and Femi Azeez impressing for differing reasons. Indeed, Azeez scoring was much needed for everyone involved - let’s hope he can build on it.
I made the short walk back to the car with a big smile on face and vowed there and then that the next time the big shop is open, I’ll add to the money pot by buying a Reading FC Christmas mug. It feels like it’s the 25th of December already with these two wins, but there’s still more in this team. I still think we need to change the chap in the dugout but, for now, I’m content to enjoy six succulent points. I hope you are too.
Until next time.