Sunday, February 04, 2007

A football autobiography

Hi. I'm a Reading FC fan.

I've lived in Reading virtually my whole life - my parents moved here when I was two - apart from my five years at University. My family haven't traditionally been sports fans at all - well, apart from the University Boat Race since my Dad went to Cambridge and my Mum was born there. I recall having a Mexico '86 sticker album, and watching England's semi-final against Germany in Italia '90, but wasn't really aware of club football at the time. I didn't even really follow the national team until the Euro '96 tournament, which was pretty hard to avoid! Still, it didn't really inspire me to follow football as a sport.

Some of my old school friends were keener, though. By this time I was attending Aston University in Birmingham, but in one trip home I recall attending, with them, one of the last (I don't think it was the last) home games at Elm Park, in 1998. Honestly, I couldn't tell you who the opponents were that day, nor the result (though I have a feeling that Reading lost). I think we also watched one of the first games at the Mad Stad.

Over the next few years, I started to get more interested in both football in general, and in Reading's performances in general, watching the occasional game with my friend Dave. On one of these occasions I bought an away shirt - I don't recall which year, but it's one of the 'Kit@' designs, with Westcoast sponsorship, in a lovely deep salmon pink with a collar. I've worn it from time to time when playing (very) casual football.

I really started to follow the performance of the team week-to-week a few years ago - reading match reports in the papers. Then last year I listened to most of the live commentary on BBC Radio Berkshire, watching some games on TV with Dave. I thought about going to games but didn't really get around to it - and besides, the stadium was starting to sell out! Still, I was ecstatic when we got promoted, and then the championship, and right up to the end of the season.

This season I've barely missed any radio commentary, and whenever possible I've watched matches in the Prince of Wales pub (just round the corner from me). Finally, a few weeks ago, my sister was over for Christmas and we decided to catch a few games in person. The first, against Everton, was a disappointing 0-2 loss, although from our prime viewing position in Row D behind the South end goal, we were certain Seol was fouled and should have had a free kick right on the edge of the box. The second was the incredible 6-0 win over West Ham on New Year's Day. Since then I've not missed a home game, being there for the visit of Burnley in the FA Cup (both the called-off mud bath on the Saturday and the rescheduled match on the Tuesday), Sheffield United, and Tuesday's win over Wigan.

As for the blog name, it's an allusion to the club's badge, which features the Maiwand Lion in the town's Forbury Gardens, and a crown, which symbolises the team's nickname "The Royals".

Next up: Villa at home on Saturday, which has a slight resonance with my University days! I'll be there - in R30 again. See you there?