Friday, 16 December 2011

Reading - The Madejski Stadium

Reading FC
Madjeski Stadium
Bennett Road

0118 968 1100

Ground Number: 36
Saturday 20th March 1999
Reading 2-1 Wycombe Wanderers
Nationwide League Division 2


1:  Reading FC were formed in 1871 after a public meeting at the Bridge Street Rooms in Reading, however, they did not join the Football League until 1920.

2:  In 1983 Reading were the subject of a merger proposal with Oxford United. This bizarre suggestion had support from both clubs boards and was the brainchild of then Oxford United chairman Robert Maxwell. With Maxwell also owning a 19% stake in Reading, for a long time it was a real possibility but supporter protests and a change in ownership at the Reading end put paid to the plans.

3:  Links between Reading and my own team Wycombe are numerous. One of the stranger transfers came at the end of March 1999 whe Keith Scott transferred to Reading. Though a great servant to Wycombe, there was no way that Scott was worth £250k as a 31-year-old. I can only think that Lawrie Sanchez plied Reading boss Tommy Burns with scotch to get that transfer through.

4:  Reading's highest ever league finish came in 2007 when they finished 8th in the Premiership. Conversely, their worst finish in the football league came in 1971/72 when they finished 16th in Division 4.

5:  The club's best ever progress in the FA Cup has been the semi-final - both times they lost to the eventual winner - Cardiff City in 1927 and Arsenal in 2014.

6:  In the League Cup, Reading reached the Quarter final in 1997/98 only to lose 1-0 at home to Middlesbrough. This matched their progress a couple of years previously as they lost 2-1 at Leeds United.

7:  Following a vote in 1999, the legendary Robin Friday was voted Reading's player of the Millenium. The legendary player was well known for his various off the field escapades as well as his phenomenal on-field play. Sadly he retired at 25 and died at 38 after drug and alcohol abuse. You can rerad more about him in this Wikipedia Article

8:  Reading have a couple of nicknames - 'The Royals' due to the town's links with the Royal Family and 'The Biscuit Men' owing to the fact that Huntley & Palmers biscuit company was one of the town's main employers prior to the factory's closure in 1976.

9:  Reading's highest attendance came at Elm Park in 1927 as they beat Brentford 1-0 in front of a crowd of 33,042.

10: The club's record transfer fee came in 2010 when they sold current Swansea player Gylfi Siggurdsen to Hoffenheim for £6.6m. Their record purchase was Emerse Fae who cost £2.5m from Nantes in August 2007. 


My first four visits to Reading came as Wycombe played first team games at the Madejski Stadium. Our debut there was our most memorable game with us dominating but missing several chances including a Dave Carroll penalty. I remember getting very angry at a johnny come lately supporter who remarked that Carroll should never play Wycombe again, after seeing 'Jesus' give such good service to Wycombe for 10 years, that proclamation was ludicrous. Wycombe played well that day, despite being bottom of the league but were not helped when a mistake from the usually reliable Jason Cousins allowed Jim McIntyre to give Reading the lead. Darren Caskey added a second before debutant Sean Devine pulled one back for Wycombe, but it was too little, too late for the Chairboys.

Subsequent visits saw close games but refereeing decisions go against us. I certainly got angrier at this ground than I did at any others, despite Wycombe v Reading being a low key rivalry. My 5th visit waa for a reserve game, but again we lost, with Italian youngster Pietro Giambrone getting our goal. 


I'd been in the habit of revisiting grounds to update my blog for some time now and had used any game I could to try and achieve this feat. Reading were no exception and though I'd made three previous visits there, I'd not yet done a decent blog, or indeed got very many decent pictures from my previous visits. Happily, the club had announced that they were playing their last few 'Premier League 2' games of the season there, and even better, they were free entry and free parking. I didn't decide until the lunchtime of the game that I was going to go to their last game of the season which was against Sunderland. It had been a hard day at work, and after a 9-hour shift, I left at 1.45. I came home, grabbed 90 minutes sleep before waking at 4 pm. After having dinner and getting dressed I left at 5.30, making my way through the rush hour traffic. It was a decent journey with me listening to a World Cup Special 'My Sporting Life' via my podcast app.

I got to Reading at 6.20, parking up and looking in the club shop before going in. A free teamsheet was given out which was great along with free entry and parking. I waited for the game to start by catching up online. When I did, it was a pretty open contest with Josh Barrett impressing for the hosts down the right-hand side. The hosts came closest when striker Andrija Novakovich chased down a loose ball, chipping it over the bar. The chaos resulted in two Sunderland players - goalkeeper James Talbot and centre back George Brady colliding, with both requiring treatment from the physio and injury resulting in the glovesman being replaced by a substitute. Reading continued to dominate the first period, with Sunderland only coming into it later on, and then only through chances on the break. The visitors improved greatly i the second half and were having the better of the game. However, an error from Sunderland's replacement keeper Michael Wood allowed Yakou Meite's left wing cross to squirm under his body to give the hosts the lead although later investigation revealed that defender George Brady had for the final touch for an own goal. The keeper then misjudged a through ball, felled Andy Rinomhota and from the resulting penalty, Josh Barrett made it 2-0. It was 3-0 on 64 minutes when Andrija Novakovich intercepted a sloppy backpass before jinking the ball past the keeper. Josh Maja got one back for Sunderland with six minutes remaining, finishing neatly into the bottom right-hand corner from just inside the area. Elliot Embleton pulled another one back for Sunderland in injury time, a great free kick the top corner to set up a tense finale. It had been a great night's entertainment, especially when it cost me just over £6 in petrol.


THE MADEJSKI STADIUM has been Reading's home since 1998 and although it lacks the character of their former Elm Park home, it's still a decent place to watch football. Unlike some clubs, prices are not too bad if you buy right and you are assured of a decent view. Also, the stadium bowl is built in such a way that it retains atmosphere well. Drawbacks include the fact that the ground is a long way from anywhere, so you have to rely on facilities at the ground. These include a pricey but well-stocked megastore and a tea bar that is pricey but does pies and burgers. A small range of alcoholic drinks are also available in the concourse.

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