Sunday 30 June 2019

Reading City FC - Rivers IBIS Club

Reading City FC
Rivers IBIS Club
Scours Lane
RG30 6AY

0118 9424130

Ground Number: 862
Saturday 29th June 2019
Reading City 1-1 Marlow


The club was initially formed as Highmoor IBIS in 2001, following the merger of the two REading League clubs that made up the new club's name. A series of top 4 finishes followed, the only exception being in 2008 when they finished in 6th place. Facilities were not in place to take promotion when they first won the league in 2004 but by the time of their second league win in 2011, they had secured a lease at the Palmer Park Stadium which allowed them to make the step up to the Hellenic League D1 East. It was a move that paid immediate dividends as they finished up as runners-up to Newbury in their first season. They've remained in the Hellenic Premier ever since, the best finish coming in 2015 as they finished as runners-up to Flackwell Heath. Form soon tailed off though, which has seen a slide down the league. The start of last season saw a name change to Reading City, but this did not alter their fortunes in recent years, despite a move to Scours Lane, the former home of Reading Town. But despite a second bottom finish, the club will take their place in the Hellenic Premier once more for the 2019/20 season.

In the FA Cup, the debut season of 2013/14 season saw their best ever run. A 5-1 victory over Abingdon Town and a 3-1 win over Windsor saw them awarded an away game at Chertsey where they promptly lost 4-0 in the 1st Qualifying Round. The FA Vase record is seven bleaker, with the club never making it past the 1st Round. Local cups have seen a little more success, the Reading Senior Cup was lifted in 2007 following a 4-1 win over current ground-sharers Woodley United. Prior to their elevation to the Hellenic League, the club played at the IBIS Club, next door to Scours Lane (their current home). It still hosts their reserves who play in the Thames Valley League (the renamed former Reading League) and is indeed the venue for my latest visit. Also dubbed 'The Rivers Club' it was the Sports Ground of the Prudential Insurance Company, the IBIS name reflecting the 'Industrial Business' side of the business which was the door to door collections as opposed to standing orders.

Read more about my visit to Scours Lane HERE
Read more about my visit to Highmoor IBIS HERE
Read More about Laurence's visit to the IBIS club HERE


It had been a month and 11 days since my last visit to a game at Eton Wick, but to be honest, aside from on the 15th June, I'd not really missed football that much. I'd spotted this game a few weeks back and was initially expecting a revisit to Scours Lane, where I'd watched Reading Town in 2014. It would be a revisit, but worth it, as there were a number of pubs that I fancied visiting. A late change of venue threw the trip into doubt, but after reading Laurence's trip to the adjacent IBIS club, I decided to stick with it. The trip was made even more appealing by the fact that I could do it on the bus for under a fiver return from home, thanks to a great deal from Arriva, albeit that I'd have a 4-mile walk once I got to Reading. Not that that bothered me, walking had formed a big part of my summer, though the promise to myself of cutting down on junk food and drink had gone for a burton. At least I had listed over 500 old programmes on eBay, digitizing those that were sold, which lead to a small profit, together with the lack of spending on football, had provided a timely financial boost. I’d had a reasonably quiet night before the day of the game, but not much sleep, waking at 6 am. I stayed at home for a couple of hours or so, leaving just before 8.30. After getting a paper, I walked to the first bus stop and was faced with a 25-minute wait for a bus. The second stop was not much better, beating it by a few minutes, but it still meant time would be tight for my Reading bus. Frustratingly, the bus stopped at every opportunity, but I still made my connection by a few minutes. The journey took around 90 minutes, going through several towns and villages which were quite pretty.


I arrived in Reading just before 11, my first stop being the Hope Tap Wetherspoons, my 191st in the chain. Thistly Cross and Black Dragon ciders were on offer, both of which I’ve had many times. A pint of the latter cost me £3.19 at a well-filled pub given the time of day. After getting some cash out, I headed to a takeaway called ‘German Doner Kebab where I had mixed meat quesadillas, flaming fries and a Fanta for £7.50. The portions were not the biggest, but the food was excellent. My initial plan was to head to a pub, the Nags Head for another pint, but as time was tight, I headed straight to the ground. It took around 45 minutes to cover the 2.2 miles to the ground, usually a breeze for me but it was tiring in the heat. I arrived with 10 minutes to go and saw a few familiar faces in attendance. In front of a crowd of 43, Marlow in their change strip of orange were much the stronger side. They were awarded a penalty for a foul in the box, but their #10 saw his spot-kick saved as the Reading City keeper guessed correctly by diving low to his left. The visitors finally did take the lead in the 28th minute, a good through ball found their dreadlocked player in a numberless shirt and he finished well. The game was being played in three thirds, the second of which was largely uneventful, understandable given the searing heat. I relaxed in the shade and saw an improved home performance in the final third. Albeit they didn’t create much, but they were awarded a penalty on 82 minutes, apparently for a foul by the keeper. I caught it on video, a well-taken spot kick that made it 1-1. The hosts looked the more likely to grab a winner, but the contest ended in a stalemate.

It was a cooler walk back into town and a slightly shorter one. My destination was the Nags Head, a brilliant pub with 15 real ciders and lots of Reading FC stuff. I had a couple of pints of local Tutts Clump ciders, both of which were very nice. I’d have happily stayed in there all night as there were plenty of ciders that I’d not yet had. It gave me a nice place to cool off and type this report, vague as it is due to lack of details on team lineups. As brilliant as the pub was, it would have been irresponsible for me to spend all night in there so after looking around a few shops and getting some Irn Bru from Iceland, I made my way to The Alehouse. Another smashing venue, this time I had my favourite cider of the day, a pint of Tutts Clump Traditional Farmhouse. Marvellous, despite the words ‘I’m not a racist, but....’ emanating from the next booth, I didn’t listen to the conclusion. I was feeling pretty merry by now, but there was still time for another pint at the Castle Tap. Well a half anyway, as I had to get back for my bus.  I arrived back at my designated stop at 18:07, but my 18:10 bus was nowhere to be seen. Much fun was had with random people playing football outside the adjacent Yates Bar though, though the lack of direction of the beach ball meant that the game occasionally strayed into the road. The 18:40 turned up at 18:43, but at least I was on my way. I was back in Wycombe just after 8 and as I was hungry, walked a fair bit to our Chinese, one of the things that Wycombe actually does right. With that eaten, I was back at the stop for another bus that was a few minutes late. I had a half mile walk home, getting in just after 9. I'd walked nearly 20km in all, which offset what was an unhealthy but enjoyable day. The rest of the day was spent catching up with things, with me going to bed around 10:30.


The IBIS or RIVERS CLUB is adjacent to Reading City's first team ground. There are a couple of pitches that are used, both basic, but one with a nice brick dugout. There's no rail, but the pitches are very well kept. It's around two miles from Reading, but in between are a plethora of takeaways to suit all tastes. Back in the town, there are a number of great pubs, the pick of which is the Nags Head. Buses are available to the ground, prices are reasonable but even better bargains can be had from nearby towns via Arriva.

Tuesday 4 June 2019


It's been another enjoyable but expensive season. Over a total of 138 games, the costs have been a whopping £3563. Tickets have not been too pricey - a total of £968 which have included 16 games for free, the most expensive being a still fairly reasonable £22, this equates to an average of £7 a game. 'Extras' costs have been £382, though I have been sneaky with this - not including any real cider or times where I have had something special for food and also omitting some costs when Wycombe gain a positive result. It does include programmes though and works out at just under £3 per game. The big killer has been travel - fares for trains, buses and coaches, any hotels needed for overnight stops, petrol and for the first time ever, servicing and parts costs. I've not included tax, insurance or car depreciation in this, as some costs of owning a car are unavoidable. But it's by far the biggest cost factor, at £16 per game and is something that I am looking to fix next season. Certainly, I've not taken the servicing costs into consideration when asking my fellow hoppers for 'petrol' money and in some cases, I'll have ended up paying more than they did. I've worked out my costs to be 20p a mile, around 13.5p a mile in fuel and 6.5p in servicing and parts and will be using that as a barometer of both what to ask for in 'petrol' money and also when making a decision to go via public transport - or indeed whether to go to a game at all.

Surprisingly out of my two regular hopping partners, given that one hopper has a limited budget and the other is pretty generous, they both work out at the average cost of £26 or £27 a game. I assume that's because the more generous hopper lives much further away (meaning I have to spend more to get to them) and also the fact that our trips are much longer means that the servicing costs that I didn't factor in until season end are much higher. Driving to games on my own also works out at an average of £27 a game, this is due to me keeping costs down by driving fewer miles. Going via public transport (be it supporters coach, Groundhop UK coach or normal public transport) has cost me on average £30 a game all-in - the costs being pushed up by a long trip to Scotland with a plush hotel to pay for too. By far the cheapest way, unsurprisingly, has been walking to Wycombe games at an average of £15 all-in. This equates to £12 ticket cost and £3 on food and drink. Due to the dire pub selection in Wycombe, this is often cans from Lidl which keeps the odds down, as does 'treating myself' should we win. Overall, on average, football is costing me £26 a game - a figure that I want to get down next season. But now onto something more positive and the awards for the season.

I've been looking to visit here for some while and when I got around to finally visiting Southwood, I was not disappointed. Extensive terracing and plenty of character as well as being close to a great town with a wide range of pubs were the main good points.

A 3-0 defeat for my team might not sound like a great day out, but this was about so much more than the football. I went on the Independent Supporters coach, which always stops at a pub. These vary in quality but are generally reasonable. The one we stopped at before this game was excellent, with a great range of cider and superb. The best part of the day though was catching up with my mate Ben and his Dad, both of whom I'd not seen in a few years, these factors meaning that the result didn't matter, especially given the respectable performance.

There's a lot of love for programmes on Twitter, although let's be honest, most of them are pretty dire with plenty of adverts and minimal reading material. It just seems like clubs are forced to put them out as a token effort and this shows. As a result, I don't always buy one now. One happy exception to this is Royal Wooton Bassett Town. This well-presented issue had plenty of stats, a good amount to read and was available for a very reasonable £1.50.

This fantastic and pulsating contest was part of a Bank Holiday double and was the morning game. It was played in the right spirit, the referee letting the game flow and those in attendance being rewarded with rich entertainment. Sadly most games were run of the mill, though that does make games like this all the more special.

Either two of the ones for Kintbury Rangers against Shrewton United in a Friday night game I went to. One of 16 games where I got in for free, I was lucky enough to get both of the efforts on camera.

Not much debate here, Worcester Park were the clear winners with a superb range at great prices. You had to wait for everything to be cooked, but what came out was delicious.

As usual, club bars were much of a muchness this season. But pubs on the other hand. There's probably been a couple with a better cider selection, but for overall consistency, my regular London pit stop of The Harp in Covent Garden is hard to beat. The landlord is very friendly and it's also very easy to check out what is on tap before I visit.

As well as keeping people informed, Sheppey was also one of the few clubs that were kind enough to retweet this blog, meaning that I got a mammoth 1,616 views for this entry. By comparison, my second most read blog was my Bemerton Heath Harlequins on with 426 views, the latest one at Eton Wick getting 93 views which just shows what sharing can do. Sadly, most don't bother, which is a shame.


I've already been putting plans into place for next season and I'm hoping to start with Retford United v Mansfield Town on Friday 28th June, should it not be called off or my planned passenger has something come up. I also plan to be more cost-effective next season - a local team Prestwood, have a railed pitch and this is one that I plan to visit with the day out costing next to nothing as it is walkable from home and free entry. Overall, I plan to go for quality over quantity - the new Tottenham Hotspur ground will hopefully see me re-complete the 92, whilst Scarbrough Athletic will see me complete down to step 3 as things stand at this time. Megabus was a great find last season with a return to Newcastle being around £20 from London and it's certainly something I'm planning to use again. 

I had a great time on Groundhop UK's hops last season, although the dates didn't always fall as I'd like with Wycombe home games - a shame, as it's cost-effective 'ticking' multiple grounds for one lot of travel costs. In terms of Wycombe away games, there are 10 that I really fancy going to, the most anticipated being Blackpool, now that the Oyston's have finally departed - I've not been for around 16 years and accommodation up there is plentiful and cheap. Abroad, I'm hoping for a revisit to Frankfurt, a Eurostar to 'any Belgian station' -possibly covering multiple countries. I'd also like to do a really cheap country - somewhere over the Eastern side of Europe, although I've not really set my sights on anywhere in particular.