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Monday, March 15, 2010

R's on the Road........... To Reading

Hot on the heels of Saturday's draw at Sheffield United comes another tricky away trip, this time at Reading. The Royals have hit some form recently and have won their two home games in the last week against Derby and Bristol City, so this is by no means an easy game.
Here’s all you need to know before your trip to Berkshire.


The Stadium.

Current Capacity – 24,200

Reading were formed in 1871 and were nicknamed The Biscuitmen after the town’s main trades Huntley and Palmers biscuits. Following the factory being shut down in the 1970’s the club changed its nickname to The Royals, due to their location in the Royal County of Berkshire.
Reading started off playing at Reading Recreation Ground until 1878, before moving on to Reading Cricket Ground (1878–1882), Coley Park (1882–1889) and Caversham Cricket Ground (1889–1896).
In September 1896 the club moved to the purpose built Elm Park and were at home there for 102 years. During this time the club finally gained Football League status after being elected to join in 1920.
Reading won their first trophy in 1988 when they defeated Luton Town in the Simod Cup, also known as the Full Members Cup and the Zenith Data Systems Cup. The Cup was formed after the Heysel Stadium disaster because English clubs were banned from European Competition and gave clubs in the top two tiers of English Football another trophy to compete for, however after the formulation of the Premier League the Cup became defunct after just seven years.
The Royals moved from Elm Park to the Madejeski Stadium, named after Chairman John Madejeski. The Madejeski Stadium is on the very outskirts of the town and is right next to the M4 motorway allowing an easy get away for some of the travelling fans.
Following promotion from League One in the 2002/03 season it then took the Royals another three seasons to secure their first ever promotion to the top tier of English Football. After a successful first season the club failed to retain their status and were relegated during their second season in the Premier League.
Further plans to increase the capacity were approved during the clubs time in the Premiership. These plans included extending three sides of the stadium (North, South and East) and replacing the roof, this would take three years to complete. However due to the clubs relegation to the Championship the planned start and completion dates have yet to be confirmed and remain a mystery.
Away fans will take their place in the South Stand (Fosters Lager Stand) and an initial 2,100 ticket allocation has been given to the club. Allocations can be increased to 4,300 when it’s needed or requested. The facilities inside are decent, the legroom is more than adequate and better than you would get at other grounds. Unfortunately the stadium is one of those modern bowl shaped models and the atmosphere can suffer because of this. There is no wow factor when you get to the ground and when you get to the away gates you are often greeted to security staff who are often over the top and really set the tone for your visit. I have read reviews from other fans of clubs and they have also complained about their behaviour and have also reported that some fans have been refused entry because in the security’s opinion some people have been deemed ‘too drunk’. It’s not one of the best days/nights out to football but once you get past the front doors just enjoy yourself and make some noise!


The History between the teams.

At Reading (38)

Reading 25
Draw 7

Rangers’ last victory on the road against Reading came in September 1997, it was also the last R’s victory in the fixture before the 4-1 victory earlier this season, in a 2-1 victory.
Lee Hodges got the Royals off to the perfect start with a goal in the opening 10 minutes after Carl Asaba’s shot had rebounded off the crossbar to give Hodges an easy chance to net his first goal in Royals colours. The 1-0 score line remained the same going into half time. With the Royals seemingly in control on 74 minutes the R’s grabbed an equalizer. A cross from the right hand side found the smallest player on the pitch, John Spencer and the micro striker grabbed the leveller. Just 60 seconds later it was 2-1!! A cross from the left hand side was diverted towards goal, by Spencer again I think (correct me if I’m wrong) with the shot seemingly going wide it suddenly hits Steve Swailes and flies into the bottom corner, sending the travelling support into raptures. Right at the end Rangers’ would’ve made it 3-1 if it wasn’t for a great save by Royals ‘keeper Mautone.


How to get there.

By Car:- The postcode for the Madejeski Stadium is RG2 0FL
Leave the M4 at junction 11 and follow the A33 in the direction of Reading, the ground is just a short distance from here.
As for parking it can prove pretty tricky and/or expensive. There are a few places to park down Imperial Way (just off the roundabout before the stadium) you can also try Acre Road industrial park as well, but do be careful because if you are not paying to park there you could easily find yourself parking on private property and getting back to your car with a parking ticket for your troubles.

By Train:- The stadium is nowhere near being within walking distance so the best bet is to jump on the special football bus to the ground. The bus is the number 79 and runs every 7-10 minutes, or so I’m lead to believe.

Pubs 'n' Grub.

There are no pubs near the stadium. If travelling by train I would recommend The Three Guineas pub, this is traditionally an away fans pub and is right outside the train station as you walk out of it on your right hand side, it is also outside the bus station so it’s ideal. Closer to the ground is the Holiday Inn hotel just off Imperial Way and is a 10-15 minute walk from the ground.
The town centre offers the usual retail outlets for you to eat at, alternatively there is a retail park right outside the stadium with McDonalds, KFC and Pizza Hut on offer to you there.

Alcohol is on offer in the ground at £3 for a pint of Fosters or Courage Bitter.
All pies and pasties cost £2.60 and rollover hotdogs are £3 each.


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