Reading FC History
1973-74 Team Photo
This small photograph features defender Andy Alleyne, bottom left, who almost fifty years ago became the first black player to make the Reading first team. Having been released by the club as a youth team player two years earlier, Andy was recalled by caretaker-manager Jimmy Wallbanks in December 1971. After impressing for the reserves in the Football Combination, he was given his League debut by Charlie Hurley in October the following year. Alleyne was still an amateur who worked full-time for the GPO, but he marked the occasion by scoring a freak goal, with the visiting Southport 'keeper dropping his long cross into the net. He went on to make over 50 appearances for Reading before leaving the club in 1976.
1984-85 marked Ian Branfoot's first full season as manager, having somewhat controversially replaced Maurice Evans halfway through the previous campaign – despite the fact the team was already heading for promotion. They looked to be mounting another challenge after a brilliant run saw them take 23 points from a possible 27, with fan favourites Trevor Senior and Dean Horrix contributing an incredible 21 goals between them in those nine games. The Royals eventually settled for eighth place in the Division Three table, but the foundations had been laid for the following season's title win. Many thanks to Royals fan Bob Burrows for letting me have this.
Newbigging v Lion
One of the strangest stories I've discovered while researching the club made the pages of the 'Reading Observer' in February 1909. Goalkeeper Alex 'Sandy' Newbigging had wagered that he would enter a den of lions, a feat he accomplished before a full house at 'Messrs. Bostock and Wombwell's Menagerie'. After stroking the lion and walking under its legs, 'Sandy' finished off by twisting the animal's tail – then legging it as quickly as he could! After collecting his wager, the Biscuit stopper declared he'd be happy to do the job every day for a similar amount. Newbigging is shown here on a cigarette card from 1908 plus a photo taken from this illustrated paper published in 1906.
1966 Press Photo
A terrific shot of the old ground at Elm Park featuring an advert from the firm that gave this site its name and the club its nickname. The main stand that ran alongside Norfolk Road had been constructed in 1926, while the three sections of the South Bank's roof were built over several years either side of the war. The original floodlights, put in place in the early fifties, can just about be seen around the outside of the pitch, with these being replaced by four huge pylons in 1969.
The March 26th issue of 'All Sports' magazine featured Reading's Bill Johnstone and Joe Duckworth ahead of the FA Cup semi-final clash with Cardiff. Scottish centre-forward Johnstone scored nine times in the competition that season, including two as the Biscuit boys pulled off a brilliant 3-1 win at Swansea in the quarter-final.