Reading fans are not renowned for having a wide selection of chants, or for singing them particularly loudly. Nevertheless, we have enough tunes to hold our own on a decent away day, or an extra-special home game. In the repertoire there is some variation. There are those chants that always get sung: ‘Blue Army’, ‘Barmy Army’ and so on. Generally, these are simple, effective songs that make mass participation easy. There are some that hardly ever make an appearance too, such as the Shaun Cummings chant that always brings a guilty smile to my face. A fair few are classics that are common to pretty much every English football team in existence, like the ‘Super Reading’one to the tune of ‘Wild Rover’. Finally, there are one or two songs that are home-grown Reading specials: one in particular, concerning a certain naturalist, springs to mind.
But out of this collection, do many of you have a favourite? One you treasure and enjoy above all the others? I certainly do.
When considering this question, I came up with a number of contenders. I appreciate ‘Molly Malone’. This is mainly because it is a proper ‘song’, as in it contains more than three words and is not a dull, monotone tune. The Hal Robson Kanu chant is addictively catchy, and I often find myself humming it around the house. Too bad he is currently playing poorly, as it means this song is not being given the airtime it truly deserves. For me, this is almost as regrettable as the negative impact his loss of confidence has had on the pitch. The famous, indomitable and moving (I think) Ode to the genius that is Bill Oddie was very close to being my favourite. Its tongue-in-cheek homo-eroticism, the confusion it brings out in outsiders and the sheer fun it inspires makes this chant without doubt a special one. I suspect it may be the choice pick of a few others.
Yet ‘Bill Oddie’ is not the stand-out chant for me. No, mine is the song that Reading fans sung repeatedly in the latter half of the 2011-12 season, beginning with the lyrical phrase ‘EIEIEIEIO...’. There are a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, it evokes warm memories and better times. It was rocking the concourses in one of the most enjoyable away games I have ever been on: the 4-2 demolition of West Ham that season. More widely, it was sung when the team was on a very good run indeed, those mesmerising series of wins after Christmas 2011. Therefore, the song always causes me to reminisce about a particularly enjoyable season.
Secondly, it builds in a rather perfect way. Somebody starts the chant, it begins to pick up adherents and, by ‘we are Reading, super Reading’, enough people are warbling to make most of the Reading fans aware of its existence. Consequently, the next time the ‘EIEIEIEO’ comes around, a large number of fans suddenly thunder out the letters, creating a tidal wave of noise that washes over me. If it is sung well, the song infuses me with excitement and is simply intoxicating. My heart beats just a little faster. That is why I love that chant.
Considering this topic has been fun, and it has also made me curious. Do other Reading fans have favourite chants, or none? Is ‘Bill Oddie’ the runaway winner, or is there a dark horse. If you have any thoughts, it would be great to hear them.