Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Top ten stories of the year

EVERY newspaper publishes top 10 lists of just about everything at this time of year. I’ve seen lists

EVERY newspaper publishes top 10 lists of just about everything at this time of year. I’ve seen lists of celebrity haircuts, gaffes, sporting moments, news pictures, songs etc. Lest we forget, here is my largely irrelevant top 10 list of randoms from Reading FC 2015.

1) Excruciating song: Lady Sasima Srivikorn is part owner and co-chair of the club. Her effort to enliven pre matches with a catchy little ditty received mixed reviews from fans, mainly because it was terrible.

2) Memorable goal: At least three contenders from Nick Blackman, Oliver Norwood and Danny Williams. The last of these, giving Reading a 1-0 win against Blackburn a couple of weeks ago, was a worthy winner any year.

3) Biggest PR slip-up: On a par with announcing the wrong Miss World winner, Steve Clarke’s admission he had spoken to Fulham about their managerial vacancy was an extraordinary miscalculation. He was sacked from his Reading job a fortnight later.

4) Best day out: They may have lost, but Reading’s FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal at Wembley in April was memorable. They gave the eventual cup winners a scare in front of 80,000 fans, taking the game to extra time.

5) Most showbiz moment: On the pre-season trip to Thailand, where a team that had just finished 19th in the Championship caused so much excitement roads were closed and they were given police escorts through Bangkok.

6) Flop: The club reportedly paid £2 million plus to bring Matej Vydra from Watford to Reading this season. The odd clever pass can’t disguise two goals in 16 games and up till now a man who would not be capable of finishing his dinner.

7) Excited atmosphere: The night Reading beat Phil Parkinson’s Bradford City in an FA Cup quarter-final replay. The game was a great advert for cup football and it was noisy from kick-off right through till the final whistle pitch invasion.

8) Bizarre decision: Revamping the ever successful goalkeeping department, and sacking coach Sal Bibo. It marked the start of a dramatic decline in goalkeeping standards at the club, costing Reading crucial points and Steve Clarke his job.

9) Star man: Nick Blackman raced to the top of the Championship’s goal scoring chart with his nine goals in 10 games. Then he went on a barren run, but mainly because he was shifted out wide to accommodate Vydra. See “Flop” and “Bizarre decision”.

10) Crucial numbers: Played 55 games, scored 60 goals, conceded 64 goals, won 19 games, lost 23 games. Started year 16th in Championship on 29 points after 24 games. Finished year 12th on 30 points after 24 games.

More interesting than celebrity hair-cuts, I hope, but this end of year report is not the most cheerful read for Reading fans. But 2016 starts on Saturday with a game against lowly Bristol City at the Madejski Stadium. Then there is an FA Cup trip to Huddersfield the following weekend. Fans will be hoping the “Crucial Numbers” this time next year are more positive.

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