Replacing Elm Park in 1998 as Reading Football Club’s home ground, the Madejski Stadium was named after the club’s former chairman Sir John Madejski.
As well as hosting Reading for the entirety of its history, the Madejski also staged home matches for London Irish rugby union club from 2000-2020, though they have since moved to the brand-new Brentford Community Stadium.
The Madejski sits 2½ miles south of the centre of Reading and was completed at a cost of £50million, some way above plenty of the other stadia to be built around this time at around £90million in today’s money.
Madejski Stadium History
It became clear by the mid-’90s that despite the best of intentions, it was impractical to convert Reading’s old home of Elm Park into an all-seater stadium and so a new arena was needed.
The ground in Smallmead, south of Reading, was identified as the ideal site and construction of the new stadium got underway in 1997.
Good money was ploughed into the project by Sir John Madejski and the stadium was ready within a year, also named after the man whose brainchild it was.
Reading started the 1998/99 season in their new home and began as well as they could have hoped for, beating Luton Town 3-0.
The stadium proved popular and rugby was added in 2000 when London Irish moved in, and by the time Reading reached the Premier League for the first time in 2006 demand was high among fans.
As a result, planning permission was sought for Reading to extend the Madejski Stadium to a 38,000 capacity, beginning with a remodelling of the East Stand before the North and South Stands were to be extended.
Following relegation however these plans were shelved and as of now, there appears to be no rush for the club to enhance the Madejski Stadium’s size or scope.
All the basics you need to know about the Madejski Stadium:
- Capacity: 24,161
- Record Attendance: 24,184 for Reading v Everton in the Premier League in November 2012. For a rugby match, the record is 23,709 for London Irish v London Wasps in 2008.
- Pitch: 105m x 68m, made up of SIS grass.
- Stands: The Eamonn Dolan Stand, South Stand, East Stand and West Stand. Wheelchair space is available in the Eamonn Dolan, while the West Stand is considered the main stand with marginally the biggest capacity as well as housing the dugouts and tunnel.
Memorable Recent Games at the Madejski Stadium
In the last decade or so alone, the Madejski Stadium has hosted some of its best and most memorable matches.
Back in December 2011, the Royals were going for promotion when the Sam Allardyce-led West Ham came to town. With the away side expected to win, they were rolled over 3-0 by the home side in one of their best performances for years.
At the end of the same season in April 2012, Reading beat Nottingham Forest 1-0 to seal Premier League football on a night their fans will never forget.
Having got to the top flight, Reading struggled all year and high points were rare. One of them, however, was in November 2012 when Everton arrived. The away side even took an early lead only for Reading to force a rousing comeback and a 2-1 win in the midst of a terrific atmosphere.
By now back in the Championship, Reading faced Bolton Wanderers in January 2014 when they were chasing the play-offs. Giving no mercy, the home side battered the Lancashire team 7-1 with Adam Le Fondre scoring a 33-minute hat-trick in the process.
On the last game of that season in May, Reading needed to match or better Brighton’s result to get into the play-offs. An entertaining yet nervy game saw the home side draw 2-2 with Burnley and seemingly get into the end of season knockout tournament, however, a last-gasp goal for Brighton ultimately meant heartbreak.
After a draw was forced in the first game, Reading managed an FA Cup replay belter in January 2016 when they demolished a good Huddersfield Town side 5-2, although the run didn’t end up in an outing at Wembley.
Most recently, in August 2019, Reading took a very good Cardiff side apart 3-0 at the start of the season and it’s hoped that there are many more such days to come at the Madejski.
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