Ah, the English language. Reading is what you're doing right now, while Reading is a large Berkshire town. Are you confused yet?
Photo: twitter.com/Zacnaloen

Ah, the English language. Reading is what you’re doing right now, while Reading is a large Berkshire town. Are you confused yet? Well, you don’t have to be. We honestly don’t have the patience to teach. So, we’re hardly going to start our own BoroGuide University course on how to read. Nope – we’re not bothered about Reeding, but Redding. And not so much the town either, more their resident football club; team ‘they’ like to call the Royals.

Who are Reading?

We’re fast approaching a pretty major milestone in the life of the Royals; 2021 marking the club’s 150th birthday. But, while their story stretches right back to 1871, it took them a long time to climb the rankings. And that’s despite being called “the finest foreign team seen in Italy” in 1913. At that time, they hadn’t yet become a Football League side; joining Division Three South in 1920. The first few years were tough. Soon enough, however, they started to find life a little easier.

In 1926, the Royals were promoted to Division Two as champions; making it all the way to the FA Cup semi-finals a year later. The good times didn’t last, however. After avoiding the drop in 1930 on goal average, back down they went in 1931. There were a few runners-up medals after that: 1932, 1935 and again after the Second World War. But it wasn’t until the arrival of John Madejski in 1991 did the club return to the second tier.

And even that took a further three years.

It could’ve been even better for the Royals too. The 1994-5 season saw ’em finish second in the old new Division One. With the Premier League reducing the number of teams from 22 to 20, however, they didn’t get automatic promotion. The bitter pill was made harder to swallow when defeat in the playoff final cost them a shot at the top tier for the first time. It was a long 12 years – including four back in the third tier – until they finally achieved their aim of Premier League football. Not nice to be denied promotion on a technicality, is it?

Why do we know Reading?

Well, it ain’t because our glorious spell as a Premier League team – is it? No, our reason for knowing the Royals is all rooted in cup football. That’s because they’re one of a select band of teams who we kept pulling out of the hat. Everton, Ipswich Town, Stourbridge – after our promotion from the Football League, we couldn’t get rid of ’em. And our first encounter with Reading would be our reward in the 2010-1 FA Cup Fourth Round for toppling Newcastle.

Not sure it feels like much of a reward.

What is our record against Reading?

In a hard-fought match at the Lamex, the Royals ultimately showed the class that had ’em pushing for Premier League promotion; Jobi McAnuff(!) setting up Shane Long to score an 87th-minute winner that settled things. It cost us an away day at Goodison Park. But we’d get our fill of Everton soon enough. Anyway, it’s a unique experience and a new team to say we’d played against. We’re sure the pennant is hanging up in the boardroom or something.

Oh, except it wasn’t a unique experience.

In 2011-2, Boro’ again made it through to Round Three. And who did we get? The Royals – again! This time, however, it was at their place. Mind you, GW had Boro’ putting right a few wrongs at this point in time. The 1995-6 Conference title, the 1997-8 Newcastle stuff and so on. To be honest, we think Reading did a huge amount wrong to be put right. But, hey, what can you do. Boro’ went down to the Madejski Stadium and came away with the 1-0 win that sent us into the Fourth Round. GW, clearly seeing this as his work done, then left us for Preston.

And that was that for a while.

The Royals popped back up on our radar during the 2017-8 campaign; the FA Cup Third Round draw bringing them to the Lamex once more. In our time apart, they’d had another season back in the Premier League. Now, though, they were struggling at the wrong end of the Championship. We, of course, had swapped League One for League Two and had endured the Teddy Sheringham experiment. So, neither of us had much good to report to each other.

With the Royals’ struggles, however, was there a chance of an upset? Well, our 0-0 draw at the Lamex felt like a missed opportunity for us. Our guests were now seven without a win – but at least avoided going out of the cup. And they took full advantage of that in the replay, winning 3-0 thanks to a Jon Dadi Bodvarsson; bagging themselves a Round Four tie at Sheffield Wednesday. It was also two-out-of-two for trips to the Madejski Stadium in which we were forced into a garish kit combo of away shirt/home shorts or vice-versa.

Reading: Boro’s Record

Our head-to-head:P 4 — W 1 — D 1 — L 2 — F 2 — A 5 — Pts 0 — WR 25%
Our last tango: Reading 3-0 Stevenage, 16 January 2018

What happened to Reading?

In the short-term, the Royals lost 3-1 to the Owls; exiting the FA Cup at the next stage. Not that we can say we’d have done much better. They also avoided relegation to League One by a single point. The next season was a similar tale; finishing 20th for the second straight campaign. At least this time, howevr, they saw a 200% growth in the number of points that kept them in the division; staying up by three points.

It got a bit better for ’em in the coronavirus-affected 2019-20 campaign, to be fair. After the pause in proceedings, the Champo sides went back to it; the Royals snapping up the mid-table security of 14th position – even if the gap to the relegation zone was only the seven points. It’s another year-on-year growth in that gap, however. And things certainly do look a lot brighter so far this season; unbeaten as we write and top of the table. This sentence may age badly come the end of the 2020-1 season. We shall see.

• WANT TO KNOW MORE? – Reading club profile


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