Wednesday, 24 January 2018
THE Christmas cracker we were all hoping for on Boxing Day was delivered — 1-0 up at the break, the biggest crowd of the season so far will have been wondering, but in the second half the game exploded into life.
An equaliser, a penalty, a sending off, and then a fluent team move in stoppage time rounded off with a thunderbolt of a shot into the top corner by substitute Callum Harriot gave Reading all three points against Norwich.
It is the first time since 2011 the team has won on Boxing Day. The final whistle also marked the halfway point of the season. Twenty-three Championship games have been played, and there are another 23 games to go. Having played every opponent once they are already on 43 points.
Most seasons 86 points is enough for automatic promotion, though Brighton and Newcastle seem to be having their own competition at the top of the table this season.
As striker Yann Kermorgant’s parents pointed out to me after the game, it is not a raucous noise the Reading fans make, even when that many of them are inside the Madejski Stadium. At some grounds 20,000 home supporters take the roof off, but not in restrained and civilised Reading. It will never be Millwall or Leeds in the Home Counties.
It is a bumper festive season for Reading fans. This Friday they have another home game, this time against local rivals Fulham. There is a bit of history, some quite recent, between these two sides. Ever since their great escape from Premier League relegation at the expense of Reading eight years ago there has been a feisty animosity. Reading started December with a 5-0 defeat at Craven Cottage in the league. They will want to end the month, and the year, with a rather better performance and score line. Expect another big crowd.
To stage two home games over the Christmas period, with one on a Friday night, should be good news for the club accountants. Add in a lucrative away trip to Old Trafford in the FA Cup, and the money is rolling in. All Jaap Stam, the manager, needs now is the new owners to emerge from the shadows and splash the cash in January. If they do that 86 points really will be within their grasp.
One of the highlights of Boxing Day was the back of the match day programme. The current Thai owners have taught us much about other cultures and ways of life.
The new Thai King was pictured looking resplendent in full military royal gold garb, complete with sparkling silver sword hanging from his belt. He cut a dashing figure. The caption read “on behalf of Reading Football Club, we extend most cordial congratulations to HIS MAJESTY KING MAHA VAJIRALONGKORN BODINDRADEBAYAVARANGKUN on the occasion of his accession to the throne”. If he ever gets a game for Reading it is going to send those responsible for printing the names on the back of the shirts into meltdown.
16 January 2017
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