Reading FC, nicknamed The Royals due to their Berkshire location, are a historic football team who have bounced around all levels of English professional football over the years.
While plenty of competition comes from the array of clubs located around west London, Reading’s core support remains completely loyal.
Initially formed on Christmas Day in 1871, Reading Football Club originally played their games at the Reading Recreation Ground. Fixtures in the club’s earliest days were also fulfilled at Coley Park, Reading Cricket Ground and Caversham Cricket Ground.
As the club rose, it turned professional in 1895 and as such needed a proper home venue with Elm Park being completed in time to house the team in 1896. Having gained a foothold in English football, after the War the club began to rise with Reading finishing second in Third Division South twice.
By the ’80s things had improved further. A Wembley win in a minor trophy came against Luton in 1988 while there were also promoted to Division Two the same decade.
In 1991, Reading reached newer and even higher levels when John Madejski took over the club. In 1994 they won the third-tier title, moved to a new stadium in 1998 and after some slow but almost continuous improvement they were promoted to the Premier League in 2006 after accumulating a record 106 points in the Championship.
After a short but sweet stay in the Premier League, Reading was relegated in 2013 though remain perennial promotion contenders in the second tier of English football.
Reading FC’s Stadium
These days Reading Football Club play their football at the Madejski Stadium. Named after former chairman Sir John Madejski, an entrepreneur who founded Auto Trader among other things, the stadium has a capacity of over 24,000. It also provides the finish for the famous Reading Half Marathon.
The Madejski was built to replace Elm Park after the Taylor Report in 1990. The former ground was the club’s home from 1896 right through to 1998.
Not in the most idyllic of locations, the Madejski Stadium was built on the site of an old landfill with methane vents surrounding it. Although since construction began on the stadium in 1997 the surrounding area has been improved. Part of the structure now contains the Millennium Hotel.
After Reading’s last match at Elm Park was completed, a 1-0 loss to Norwich in May 1998, they were ready to move into the Madejski for the beginning of the 1998-99 season. The team has been housed there ever since.
Between 1999 and 2013 this stadium was used to host several England under-21 games. Four European rugby finals have also been staged there.
Famous Reading Players
All too rarely have Reading sat at English football’s top table. Their club legends won’t always be recognisable to those not closely following the club.
The club’s Player of the Year gong, however, is coveted. Winning it means gaining a place in Royals fans’ hearts forever.
Those to have taken that title over the years include multiple winners:
- Colin Meldrum
- Steve Death
- Richie Bowman
- Steve Richardson
- Steve Wood
- Mick Gooding
- Graeme Murty
More recently, such names as Stephen Hunt, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Adam Le Fondre, Jordan Obita, Ali Al-Habsi and Liam Moore have appeared on the honours board at the Madejski Stadium.
Reading hasn’t won a major trophy in their nearly 150-year history. However, they have won their division on several occasions, as well as some minor competitions.
Being promoted as champions and lifting the trophy in the second tier, these days the Championship, came for Reading in both 2006 and 2012, while doing so at English football’s third level was achieved by The Royals in 1926, 1986 and 1994. They were also Fourth Division winners back in 1979.
The club also lifted the Full Members Cup in 1988, while they have had some near misses in major competitions. Reading has reached the FA Cup semi-finals twice (1927 & 2015) as well as the quarter-finals on four occasions, while they reached the same stage of the League Cup in both 1996 and 1998.
Their highest Premier League finish was in 2007 when they managed an impressive eighth place, the same year manager Steve Coppell won the League Managers Association’s Manager of the Year accolade.
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