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Next up (or down) in the Prem are Reading away at the Madejski Stadium. Anyone needing details of parkng (not good) or directions, click on Madejski Stadium here.

To say that Reading FC are older than Rovers (135 years old now), games between the two clubs have been few and thankfully (given the leagues they have been playing in) far between. I remember a 4-0 thrashing they gave us at Elm Park once which presaged a thoroughly miserable season for the Rovers and a draw as games I've been to and that's about that.

Reading have two nicknames- the Royals apparently because of their proximity to Windsor Castle; and the Biscuitmen- because they make biscuits in Reading with Huntley & Palmers the local scions of teeth rotting. Autotrader was set up by John Madejski and I often saw him in his knocked down Roller round the pubs and restaurants of the Thames Valley. He has bankrolled the club with careful support for many years and the 24,000 seat stadium bears his name. It is worth remembering that Jack was going to build Ewood on exactly the same design until he realised that the crowd support needed something bigger than the 24,000 capacity. (happy days!) Today Reading are looking to increase capacity by 50%. Reading also has the biggest stone statue of a lion in the world so it is famous for something!

The town of Reading has been for many years the fastest growing urban area in Europe with the population having doubled to over 200,000 in less than twenty years. Notably part of the silicon triangle with numerous IT companies, the global headquarters of Vodafone are just down the road in Newbury whilst proximity to Heathrow is a huge boon to the area. If ever a town has been promoted to the urban premier league, Reading certainly has been.

So the football club has caught up and this is Reading's debut season in the top flight and Rovers debut appearance at the Madejski as far as I can recall. And we all know what happens when Rovers go to a stadium for the first time? That's right, we christen it by getting beaten.

I asked a few questions on "Off at eleven" a Reading fans site and got zero replies- not even a rude one.

However "Hob Nob Anyone" (as their name would suggest) were much more obliging so here is a compilation of the collective wit and wisdom of Reading supporters:

-What differences are you finding between the Coca Cola and the Premiership?

Surprisingly few so far. The main difference is that you are more likely to be punished for a mistake at this level or an opposition player is more able to change a game with a moment of brilliance. Players seem to find more space in the prem and are capable of punishing the slightest mistake. Gamesmanship and diving are much more common than in the CHAMPIONShip. The players are physically more imposing and cynical. Teams are more defensive.

A lot less hoofing the ball up the pitch, a lot more aimless passing across the back / through midfield. A lot of players run after the referee for about 15 minutes after any decision is given against them (chelsea, man u etc) this didn't happen as much in the championship

The noise inside the Madejski for a start. Suddenly Reading fans seem to have realised that, actually, they do have the capability of vocally supporting the team! On the playing side, certainly a much higher standard of football, much better individual ability. On the sh*te sde though, much more lazy journalism, much more in the way of disrespect, and many more c*ntish fans like Chelsea's pack of dogs.

Teams hold onto possession better and are generally take their chances better but football wise there really is little difference between the majority of the premiership and the top half of the Championship. The Championship pisses on the Premiership for value for money and atmosphere though.

Apart from the expense, a better standard of cheating and ###### refs.

Obviously more media attention, some people have actually heard of us now.

Visiting fans to the mad stad don't sing so much

There seem to be a lot less goals

many more overpaid wasters

One thing I have noticed is that refs do loads of favours for the so called top 4, Chelsea,Man u, Arsenal and Liverpool. There have been some diabolical decisions made.

Why do you think the team is doing so well? Who are your outstanding players?

We play as a team. Every player knows that they are replaceable and every player on the edge of the team knows that if they come in and play well they will keep their place regardless of who they have replaced. We have no real stars though obviously Kevin Doyle isn't doing too badly. We are a young team that has played together now for 2-3 years without a great deal of changes, this continuity has helped. Teamwork, consistency of playing together for a few years. The combined factor of us being a decent side and the premiership being overrated.

The reason we are doing so well is Steve Coppell. The team is doing so well because because we play direct, fast paced football. You can see the passion and desire in the players to prove themsleves. Teamwork, spirit, buckets of ability and a brilliant manager capable of getting the very best out of his squad. Doyle is an obvious stand out player, full of running and an eye for goal but it's hard to pick out individuals. Our defence has a great understanding, not surprising considering it's been settled for 2 years and we have great options in midfield.

Cos we're super Reading, super Reading FC, we're by far the greatest team the world has ever seen. Outstanding players are Hahnemann, Murty, Shorey, Sonko, Ingimarsson, Harper, Sidwell, Hunt, Seol, Little, Doyle, Lita, Convey etc...

Simple. We have a quality side that very few people give us respect for. We play good attacking football, none of this in the air game that Watford and Chelsea like to play. We have the ability to score goals. And when we take the lead in a game (very often done over the last 18 months) we very rarely surrender that lead. Because nobody'd ever heard of us before we got promoted the majority of people thought the customary thing to do would have been to be relegated in 1 season and vanish without a trace. Of course, this is Reading. We don't do customary.

Players to watch are Nicky Shorey (left back), Ibrahima Sonko (big black goon at the back), Glen Little (if he plays) and Kevin Doyle. Your keeper should also watch out for Stephen Hunt's knee.

We were this good last season, only it seems nobody was watching! We've only signed one new first team squad for £1.5m (Soel Ki-Hyeon) and have a couple of key players out injured (Kitson & Convey) who would have been starters and most likely ever presents in the starting lineup.

Glen Little can win matches on his day, but Kevin Doyle seems to be on fire when it comes to finding the back of the net.

We are team who enjoy playing football, not a bunch of stars thinking out extending their mock-tudor mansions and their next appearence in OK magazine.

We've got a lot of players who've spent years playing in the lower divisions and appreciate being here.

The manager has built a team of players who can actually fit to a tactical system, and who have come here to play, not because the money's good.

We have a manager who actually knows something about coaching, and doesn't think shouting a lot is a substitute for instruction.

We also slip rohypnol into the away team's lucazade bottles.

What are the weak links in the team?


Lack of depth in the squad, to a certain extent the team picks itself. If we suffer injuries our form will dip.

The first and last 5 minutes of any game. Stephen Hunt's hair. Our goalkeeper has a cr*p taste in music.

Seriously, we probably lack height up front. With Kitson out we lack that target man, although having said that Kevin Doyle can more than hold his own, Leroy has springs in his boots and Seol's not exactly short either. Currently, with Kitson out, no height up front. we aren't passing as well as last season either, mainly because hardly anyone wants to play football.

Unfare to single out individuals. However, we desparately lack cover at the back and up front. It's no coincidence that we've won every game when our first choice back 5 has played the full 90 minutes and struggled when it hasn't. Up front, Doyle's brilliant form has masked the fact that we desparately miss Dave Kitson.

The caterers.

What are the realistic targets for the Royals this season?

To win the next game. Staying up and achieving mid table obscurity. Win the fair play league.

Everyone would take mid table mediocrity if it was offered to them now, but if we can keep up this form there's no reason why we shouldn't at least aim to have an interest in the european spots. Injuries and the success of any potential January signings will have a massive baring on this though.

When do you think Madejski will sell the Royals and how much for?

If There's one thing JM loves more than RFC it's getting in the papers / on tv. I don't think he will sell, and if he does he will with the caveat he remains on the board of directors or some similar position. He would not sell it for money (unless it was a lot) but in the knowledge that someone else could take reading further.

He's not prepared to throw money into the club on the same scale as the bigger clubs and will sell if it's in the clubs best interests, Sure he'll make a profit but if it was all about money he wouldn't of bought a football club

as he can make more elsewhere.

Whatever he can get if he finds the right person, I think he will be here for a few seasons more though. I can't see Madejski selling before the stadium redevelopment is complete. He's enjoying it too much at the moment. Whatever he sells it for, it will be a hell of a lot more than what he bought it for.

I think that most fans hope that he'll never sell it, but he's a businessman, so he'll sell it when it's right for him. I hope that he'll see us right though and leave us in good hands. In terms of price, it really depends on whether he'll be selling the stadium with it. I would imagine something in the region of £50m.

He'll sell for a profit, that's for sure and he'll only sell to the right person or persons as he won't want to tarnish his God like status by screwing the fans over.

When a decent, honest, reliable and interested party shows some interest. I'm still waiting to hear back on my offer of £30 and Cilla's back catalogue of records.

Any comments about Blackburn Rovers?

Worthy Premiership Champions in their day.

Good team, good manager IMHO. Am very surprised that you seem to be struggling this year. Established premiership outfit with a great manager.

I like Rovers, a bit unsure about MH as Manager though. I can certainly think of at least 3 more teams that I would rather see relegated. Looks like you are struggling to cope with UEFA Cup and the League.

A tough side to play against. I do see them as a physical team, and although that may be a cliché the fact that they are bottom of the fair play league does seem to back this up. Think they can play good football mind and rate McCarthy and Pedersen as players.

A good side, not likely to go down anytime soon. Good manager, some very good players. If they had a Darren Bent, I think they could could make themselves regular participants of European football.

Mark Hughes has done a great job. Where are all your fans??

I think blackburn have always been tarred with the brush of a strong physical dirty side. I doubt this is true,

Not really seen enough of them to form a considered opinion - so don't want to fall into the same trap as most ignorant commentators who wrote off our chances before a ball was kicked - as if 106 points,99 goals, 33 game unbeaten run was a fluke!

Horrible to watch, dirty, hard, annoying, poor support, over achieving, A couple of decent players. (another poster followed up- But apart from that you think they're quite good?)

A team in the image of their manager. Capable of great skill but equally adept at kicking you in the ###### when the ref's back is turned. Perdersen is a brilliant player and given the chance, Tugay can boss the game. Ultimately thought, hugely underachieving given the talent available. Robbie Savage is a complete tart. Loves to dish it out, but can't take it.

This game represents our greatest risk of injury to our small squad. This got the reply: Personally think we've just survived that one. Blackburn aren't as rough as people make them out to be.

Another North West Team which struggles to fill the ground with OT and Anfield on the doorstep. Gutsy High energy team. Poor Disciplinary record.

Bought your way to the title in '95, done pretty much nothing but mediocrity since. Now they're living within their means more I have a lot more respect for them. Excellent manager, and they have some excellent quality individual players; Benni McCarthy, Tugay, Morten Gamst Pederson to name but 3.

I seem to remember us beating you 4-0 back in 1986/7. I wasn't at the game, but I was amazed to discover the score! I also loved it when you beat the Manc scum to the title in 1995 and Alan Shearer was a magnificent player for you.

I have a horrible feeling they'll be another team who'll pack the midfield and try to grind out a result. As a club, full credit for staying up as finances must be stretched.

Are we playing Bristol Rovers? I thought it was Burnley that we have in the FA Cup, (he got stick from fellow posters for this!)

You'd be lost without Gamst-Morgen (where's wakefieldrawks?...)

Score prediction?

Yes there will be a score at the end of the game.

Apart from that smart alec response, most posters were reluctant to predict. Those that did referred to Fortress Madejski, Rovers mid-week UEFA game and that Rovers would finish with 10 men.

The scores were:

0-0 1 vote

1-1 1 vote

1-0 4 votes

2-1 3 votes

2-0 6 votes

Reading like to play open football so for a full strength Rovers would be ideal opposition to get something from. But it looks like we will be 6 injuries (at least- there's Nancy still to play) and a suspension short. We could go down to another 4-0 reverse.

Edited by philipl
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The way we are playing and with Reading playing some very good football, added to our dreadful away form this campaign, i can see nothing other than a Rovers win :)

Hey we've got to kick start our season somewhere and TBH if we don't kick start it against Reading, it could be a while before we pick up some points with our fixture list.

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Great Preview.

Its going to be a tough scappy game which will see Rovers gain their second win on the road. 1-0 Ooijer with the important goal from a corner.

On a more important note, what is the 'away' pub as I have never been to Reading before. I have checked my away guide from 1998 which says that the Firkin at Train Station and The Three Guineas are the best for the away fans.

Edited by Jordan
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Great Preview.

Its going to be a tough scappy game which will see Rovers gain their second win on the road. 1-0 Ooijer with the important goal from a corner.

On a more important note, what is the 'away' pub as I have never been to Reading before. I have checked my away guide from 1998 which says that the Firkin at Train Station and The Three Guineas are the best for the away fans.

We're due in around noon and would imagine somewhere near the station will be a good starting point.

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We're due in around noon and would imagine somewhere near the station will be a good starting point.

Arrive at about 11:30 so will probably be in the pub at the train station. Give me call when you arrive.

Edited by Jordan
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For those who like to wear colours bear this in mind:

Your best bet is to use the town centre for pre-match beer and then make use of that wonderful number 79 bus again. Most pubs in the town centre are strictly non-football colours though. So unless you cover up well be prepared to get turned around. If you've come by train or want to be close to the bus stop you can try the Three Guineas at the station. The Forum opposite the station, which used to be the Firkin, will only let you in if they don't think you're a football fan!

Might be an idea to have something to cover up with.

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I may not even look, we are on telly over here again. I can't stand it.

Another dismal loss.

One thing I have noticed with the media, a lot of questions are being asked about our poor form, there is much speculation but seldom do we get a mention of the injuries.

Loss again, a big one.

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One thing I have noticed is that refs do loads of favours for the so called top 4, Chelsea,Man u, Arsenal and Liverpool. There have been some diabolical decisions made.


I am tipping us for a loss (the first I've done all season, I think). 3-1 Reading's way. :(

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