Reading FC History

 

1981-82 Club Photo

In the first season that three points were awarded for a win, the Royals made a fast start and topped the Division Three table after gaining 15 points from their first six games. 18-year-old midfielder Neil Webb, fourth from right in the middle row, had already established himself in the first team and was called up for the England youth squad to take part in the 'little world cup' in Australia. After scoring a hat-trick against Egypt in the quarter-final he was clearly destined to go far, and he later went on to became England's 1,000th international whilst with Manchester United.

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1974 Team Sheets

Playing League football on a Sunday is normal today, though fifty years it was unheard of. But the energy crisis that started near the end of 1973 and the resulting three-day-week led to many clubs, including Reading, playing on Sundays. As it was technically illegal to charge for admission, fans were required to buy a team sheet on the way in. The examples here feature two of Robin Friday's earliest Elm Park appearances.

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Robin Friday

 

The great Robin Friday would have turned 70 today (27th July) and he is shown back left here during his first full season at Reading. He finished as top scorer and won the Player of the Season award, both of which he managed again in 1975-76. I'm trying to get hold of individual photos of Robin, and if anyone can help, please contact me.

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2007-08 Club Photos

Strange how things work out sometimes. I bought the Shane Long photo recently, but it didn't arrive until ten days later on the 13th July – the same day the club announced the player was returning to Reading after an eleven year gap. Still a few of these left to find, but I'm slowly getting there!

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1905 Magazine Article

When this was published, Reading's captain had gained a top reputation, and the article describes him in glowing terms: 'It really is a treat to watch Mr Herbert Smith of Reading. Smith has played for Stoke, Oxford City and Clapton, and is one of the finest backs in England. There is a lot to be learned by studying his methods. If you have a chance of seeing him, watch him for all you are worth, and by doing so you will, without a doubt, effect an improvement in your play. If Smith were engaged in First League football he would have won for himself a greater name than he has done already. A most difficult man to out-manoeuvre, he is invariably "all there." In his methods he is exceedingly scientific, and he is also a hustler. There is a great deal of resource in his operations, and he can extricate himself from a tight corner as well any man in Britain. He has an enviable reputatioin the neighbourhood of Reading, which is not surprising, seeing that had it not been for his efforts the local club, which is a powerful one by the way and equal to at least one First League organisation, would not enjoy the reputation it does now.'

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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.

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1985 Calendar

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.

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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.

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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.

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1927 Magazine

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.

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