The Beginning 

Hi, welcome to the first post on ElmParkRoyals.com

The Beginning 
My first season of emotional turmoil was 85/86 in Division 3. With hindsight this was a bad season to start watching the mighty Royals. We won the first 13 games of the season, we came back from 3 nil down to beat the second place team and had promotion wrapped up by Christmas. For the next twenty years most seasons were an anti-climax (Simod Cup glory aside). This might be something the 106-newbies can associate with.  

At the time I didn’t realise we were playing the ugliest football known to humanity. Proper long ball and chase it stuff. Frankly, I didn’t care and thought that we would eventually become the first Division Champions. Oh the naivety of a 9 year old!  

Well it seemed inevitable! We had Steve Woods in defence, a classy defender nobody could beat, alongside him was Hicksy at centre-half, renowned for his agricultural style. Then in midfield we had Andy Rogers on the wing, who seemed to plant crosses on striker’s heads with ease, and Stuart Beavon, a hardworking creative player. Later in the season we added Terry Hurlock. Terry was both the toughest and the scariest player I have ever seen play for us.   

They sound bloody great, don’t they? Now here comes the real stardust: We had three strikers, Senior, Bremner and Horrix, who all scored goals for fun. In the first ten league games, Trevor Senior alone scored ten goals. If one of them was injured or suspended, the others stepped up and bagged a hat-trick – well that’s how I remember it anyway.   

These were different times when it came to media coverage. It is typical that Reading FC had one of their greatest seasons when the Football League couldn’t agree a TV deal, so sadly there is virtually no TV footage of this glorious season. There was still Radio 210, which I listened to avidly for away game news. Now, we criticise Radio Berkshire today, but Radio 210 didn’t even have full live coverage. I would sit there listening to the latest Elton John record (Nikita?) , waiting for a two minute update from somewhere like Sincil Bank. The tension was unbearable but I managed to while away the time playing Subbuteo. They didn’t even extend the update length and stay live when Andy Rogers swallowed his tongue and almost died away at Swansea. Today, a similar incident would be scrolling on the Sky Sports News yellow ticker for at least half a day. But let’s get back on track. During March, we had a bit of a wobble. We lost four league games. Ten year old me was starting to realise that supporting a team meant the heartache of losing occassionally. Happily we got back on track in April, and got promoted on the 19th April away at Feethams , Darlington. We soon went on to clinch the title, beating Derby County 1-0 at home a week later. Of course, Senior scored with a one yard special.   

During the close season I went to a BBQ at some friends of my parents which was memorable for two reasons. Firstly, there was a VHS recording of the Reading vs Derby game showing, which was amazing for me as that game hadn’t been shown live on tv, so the BBQ hosts must have purchased it from the club shop. Secondly, one of the other guests was none other than Stuart Beavon. I still feel guilty for pestering him with football questions for a sustained period when all he wanted to do was have a burger. I’m not sure if he even managed to get any food. Stuart, if you’re reading this, I apologise!  

I hope you’ve enjoyed the first article on elmparkroyals.com. If you’ve got memories of your first Royal’s season or game that you’d like to share, whether from 1934, 2016, or anywhere in between, get in touch via @elmparkroyals on Twitter and you might see them published here.   
Paul Mann 

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