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Old Guard Glory Or Old Man Stink? Reading FC's History With Ageing Strikers

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As Reading sign 34-year-old Yann Kermorgant, Wimb takes a quick look at the success rate of previous 30+ strikers to arrive at the football club.

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It's easy to see why some fans would get upset at Reading signing a 34-year-old striker. After all he'll probably have no re-sale value and he's at an age where very few strikers produce their best football. However this isn't the first time Reading have gone out and signed a senior forward over the past 25 years or so.

Jimmy Quinn (1992)

Age at signing: 32  - Reading career: 182 games, 72 goals

Let's start with another man who made the switch from Bournemouth to Reading late in his career, Jimmy Quinn. Quinny was soon to be 33 when pitching up at Elm Park in 1992 but went on to dominate the third tier a year later, slamming home a whopping 35 goals as Reading won promotion to Division One. Later went on to become player-manager but managed to score his final goal for the club as a 37-year-old! Then casually strolled off to Peterborough and banged in 25 goals at 38 for proof that age is just a number....

Verdict: Success!

*****

Trevor Morley (1995)

Age at signing: 34 - Reading career: 76 games, 31 goals

With Quinn stepping back from playing duties to focus more on the managerial side, Trevorr Morley arrived from West Ham to lead the line in the summer of 1995. His first season was a struggle with just five goals in an season where he suffered a severe head injury but Morley would battle back at the age of 35 and with six metal plates in his skull to go on to score 23 First Division goals for a struggling team in 1996/97 to help us avoid the drop, with my personal highlight being his hat-trick against Champions-elect Bolton at Elm Park. Slowly faded from the scene under Terry Bullivant but 31 goals in the second tier after the age of 34 is a good effort.

Verdict: Success!

*****

Robert Fleck (1998)

Age at signing: 32 - Reading career: 9 games, 1 goal

A player who holds a special place in memory for two reasons, the first when he picked up the Norwich Player of the Season award while a READING player and secondly for scoring in the first game at the Madejski Stadium in the summer of 98. Signed as one of the 'magnificent seven' by Tommy Burns on deadline day 1998, Fleck was fast approaching 33 and couldn't save us from the drop down to Division Two. While he went on to bag in that first game at the Mad Stad against Luton, injury shortly ended his career after just nine games for the club.

Verdict: Flop

*****

Keith Scott (1999)

Age at signing: 32 - Reading career: 35 games, 5 goals

With Fleck retired and things not going well at the Madejski Stadium, Burns turned to another veteran forward in Wycombe's Keith Scott. A tall target man, Scott had a decent record at lower levels but struggled to make an impact in a very ordinary Reading team. Five goals in 35 games followed before Alan Pardew moved him on in favour of Martin Butler and the rest is history. Wycombe meanwhile used the £250,000 made on the sale of Scott to go buy reported Royals target Sean Devine who promptly slammed in 34 goals over the next 12 months.

Verdict: Flop

*****

Shaun Goater (2003)

Age at signing: 33 - Reading career: 43 games, 13 goals

Feed the Goat! The Manchester City legend pitched up in the summer of 2003 for £500k as Alan Pardew looked for a veteran striker to improve a squad that had just lost Jamie Cureton. Initially it looked like a great piece of business with Goater notching four goals in his first five league games but when Pardew left for West Ham, Goat's form dropped off. Even so, the Bermudan would end the year our top goalscorer with 14 goals before he was left out of the squad to avoid triggering an incentive payment to Man City during the following campaign. Not a brilliant Reading career but you can't argue with finishing top scorer in your one full season.

Verdict: Success!

*****

Les Ferdinand (2005)

Age at signing: 38 - Reading career: 12 games, 1 goal

Nobody would dispute that 'Sir' Les Ferdinand had an awesome and glorious career but I imagine few outside of Berkshire would be able to tell you where he ended his playing days. Signed from Premier League Bolton in early 2005 by Steve Coppell to help boost a faltering promotion charge, Les at 38 was mostly used from the bench but provided just one goal in 12 appearances and looked a shell of his former self. Reading tumbled down the table and won just three games he featured in.

Verdict: Flop

*****

Jason Roberts (2012)

Age at signing: 33 - Reading career: 28 games, 6 goals

While six goals in 28 games doesn't seem a great return, nobody who watched Roberts during the second half of the 2011/12 will dispute what a massive impact he made at Reading. Like Kermorgant many disputed the wisdom of signing a man who couldn't get in a struggling Blackburn team and was about to turn 34 but Roberts silenced the doubters in emphatic style as he turned the club from play-off contenders to Champions. Sadly a string of injuries soured his final two seasons with the club but for those five months in 2012 alone, he's worthy of being fondly remembered.

Verdict: Success!

*****

Yakubu (2015)

Age at signing: 32 (stop sniggering!) - Reading career: 7 games, 1 goal

Remember deadline day in early 2015 when Reading arguably had the most newsworthy transfer story of the day? Yeah it was a slow day but hell we only went out and signed ruddy Yakubu! Sure he turned out to be fairly useless but he's responsible not only for a massive goal on our run to Wembley but also caused one fan to be locked into what I'm fairly certain is a binding agreement to name his first born Aiyegbeni... In all seriousness this wasn't a fantastic signing by Steve Clarke but for many that one goal at Derby  justified his wage packet.

Verdict: A Succesful flop

****

So those are a few that I've picked out but I'm sure I've missed a few. Let us know your thoughts on Reading's veteran signings in the comments below.