Reading FC History
1906 Illustrated Paper
This set of photos includes a rare action shot of Reading captain and England International Herbert Smith, taken at Spurs in 1906 during an FA Cup tie. This is from 'The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News', and the others in my collection can be seen here.
1970 Comic Page
In the Summer of 1970 there was plenty of optimism in the town that Reading could finally gain promotion for the first time in over 40 years. They had finished the previous season as top scorers in the Football League with a team full of attacking intent hitting 87 goals, so the confidence seemed to be justified. On the flip side they conceded 77 times, and in 1970-71 this figure was even worse as Jack Mansell's men suffered relegation to the fourth tier for the first time.
1976 Press Photo
After failing to break into Arsenal's first team, Reading manager Jack Mansell signed Gordon Cumming in 1969 as replacement for winger Tom Jenkins, who'd joined Southampton. He was part of the first Reading team I saw in 1972 and I remember he had a storming game in the cup against Arsenal that same year. Gordon won the fans' Player of the Year award for 1971-72, and in all scored more than 60 goals in over 300 games for the club before retiring in 1978.
1904 Illustrated Paper
Another superb set of photos from 'The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News', featuring shots of a cup-tie between Reading and Bolton which finished in a 1-1 draw at Elm Park. Quite often the goalkeepers were shown and were usually the only ones named – I'm guessing they were the only players the photographer got to talk to!
1901 Illustrated Paper
Published just after Reading had been knocked out of the FA Cup after a replay with Spurs at the quarter-final stage, this fantastic team photo appeared in the short lived 'Shurey's Illustrated' paper.
I love the style of these 'paper trade' items, which were expertly drawn by the prolific artist Mickey Durling and have been removed from the popular magazine 'Sport'. Durling's caricatures were also issued as coloured cards in booklets via the 'Sunday Empire News', with inside forward Maurice Edelston the only Reading player to feature on those.
In poor condition but a rare postcard of the Reading team that pulled off a shock 1-0 win against Aston Villa in an FA Cup replay at Elm Park in 1912. After holding the First Division team to a 1-1 draw at Villa Park – a result that 'staggered humanity' – centre-forward Allen Foster scored the winning goal for the Southern Leaguers with a brilliant first-time volley.
These cards date from the Edwardian era through to the late 1920s, and there's something very appealing to me about them. I found the postcard above recently and there's at least one more that I'm aware of waiting to be found.
1920s Cigarette Cards
These beautiful real photographic cards were issued by Godfrey Phillips under their Pinnace brand in the early 1920s. A miniature card was given away with packets of ten or twenty, with a large version (confusingly the middle size of these, roughly that of a modern trading card) coming in boxes of fifty. A cabinet-size photo, measuring 6x4, could be obtained by sending off 25 or five of the smaller cards respectively for exchange. Four times that amount were required for a 7x5 team photo, and not surprisingly these are extremely scarce with the Reading version still wanted! I've just got hold of a few of the large size which has allowed me to complete the 'set' for Reading full-back George Sayles.
1985-86 Player Photos
These were available to buy from the Club shop, but at the time I never bothered with them. This is something I regret now as they seem to be very difficult to get hold of! I did manage to find this batch however, featuring some of the players that were part of the only team to win the first 13 league games of any season in English League history.
1928 Pen-and-Ink Drawing
This came to me via a collecting friend who had several of these original drawings featuring many different teams. Half-back Tommy Meads joined Reading from Huddersfield and spent just the 1928-29 season at Elm Park before moving onto Tottenham Hotspur. I've no idea who 'G.B.F.' is, but this is an unusual and definitely unique item.
Reading's great centre-half left for Manchester City in November 1913, and after the Club were critisised over the transfer Hanney wrote to the 'Reading Observer' to make it clear he'd instigated the move:
Sir, may I through your widely read columns express my sincere thanks to the Reading Football Club and its supporters for the many kindnesses I have experienced at their hands during the time I have been associated with the Club?
My only reason for wishing to be transferred was an anxiety with regard to the future, for a professional footballer's career is a risky one, and comparatively short. Had I remained in Reading the most I could have expected would have been the limit wage and a small benefit after five years' service. Now, if things go well with me, I can anticipate the limit wage straight away, and a big benefit later on, while I am to receive a substantial portion of my transfer fee.
The Reading directors were not desirous of transferring me, and the transfer had been effected at my own request for the reasons mentioned. Football for me is a business, and I have only acted in the manner which I feel sure will commend itself to the followers of the R.F.C.
I take this opportunity of bidding farewell to my numerous circle of friends, not forgetting those in the country, especially in Wokingham.
2000s Cards and Stickers
Republic of Ireland international Shane Long is among the latest additions to STAR's Reading FC Hall of Fame. Shane arrived at the Madejski Stadium at the age of 18 in 2005, along with his Cork City teammate Kevin Doyle. The striker went on to play over 200 games for the Royals, scoring 54 goals over the next six years before moving to West Brom. He enjoyed a superb 2010-11 season scoring 25 goals, by far the most prolific of his career, including two in the Championship play-off semi-final away at Cardiff as Reading reached Wembley.
37 years after pulling off one of their best FA Cup results in beating soon to be League champions Sheffield Wednesday, Reading faced the same opponents in the third round at Elm Park. The Biscuit boys couldn't repeat the trick this time, going down to the odd goal in five against that season's beaten cup finalists.
Two papers issued at the time of Reading's first promotion as a league club 95 years ago, when they pipped Plymouth Argyle to the Division Three (South) title. The 'Football Chronicle' was published on the day itself – May 1st – and gives a detailed account of the Biscuit boys' 7-1 thrashing of Brentford as it happened. A 'souvenir' came in the form of a four page pull-out with 'The Chronicle', though this was delayed until the 14th of the month due to the General Strike.
A postcard size photograph taken before a thrilling 0-0 draw at Walsall in September 1947 on one of Gulliver's travels (sorry). The back is stamped with the mark of Albert Wilkes, a former Aston Villa and England half-back who started a hugely successful sports photography business whilst still playing, which his son continued running after his death in 1936.
1908-09 Magazine Supplement
A popular penny weekly called 'Ideas' gave away these high quality prints over the season, with the Reading version issued on January 7th 1909 and available in the South of England. An advert placed in the 'Berkshire Chronicle' the previous Saturday informs us 'it is a picture well worth framing'.
1939 Menu Booklet
A lovely little item from just before the war, the back of this four page booklet lists the 'Officers of the Club'. One of the 'Hon Life Vice-Presidents' is S.C. Tarrant, who was the grandfather of television and radio presenter Chris. Click image to see reverse.
1906 Book Page
Originally issued as 12 separate magazines, a richly illustrated part work was designed to be bound into one volume known as the 'Book of Football'. Many club histories were featured including Reading, who, as a club then with a history of over 30 years, had four pages dedicated to them. Included was that season's team photo, and this one has been removed from the book (not by me I hasten to add).
1926 Press Photo
A large original press photo of the Reading team taken in October 1926. Not in the best condition unfortunately as it is badly creased, caused because someone thought it would be a good idea to roll it up! On press photo sites the description states that it was taken before the club's FA Cup semi-final against Cardiff in March 1927, but that's incorrect. The location is as stated – Molineux, Wolverhampton – but this is the team that faced Wolves in a league game several months earlier. The player shown bottom left is Jimmy Dougall, who sadly suffered a broken leg in the third round tie with Manchester United in January 1927.