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Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Leicester City v Reading 25.03.06

Being one of the two official Reading FC photographers at the time, I had guaranteed my seat in the clubs “press boys” car for the trip to the Walkers Stadium for the 40th league game of the Championship Season 2005/6 to play Leicester City. Also a front row seat on what was hopefully going to be an historic day. The stats were quite simple, win the game, three more points, and Reading would be guaranteed promotion to the Premiership for the first time in their 135 year history.

You could cut the atmosphere with a knife, no not at the ground in the car. With kick off only 30 minutes away, we were lost on a council estate, somewhere on the outskirts of Leicester. We stopped to asked directions from the first local that we came across. After several attempts to understand his broken English (local accent), we were off again in hopefully the right direction, hoping that he hadn’t sent us the wrong way. Fifteen minutes later and with the kick off looming, we were stuck in traffic, this can’t be happening. Don’t say after all this, for such a crucial game we were going to miss the start of the game. Ten minutes to go, we were near the ground but still stuck in traffic and looking for somewhere to park. Bugger this, a mate, another photographer, and me jumped ship, rushing the last 500 yards to the ground, dragging our kit behind us.

The whistle blew, kick off, and the game was underway, just as we arrived pitch side. Like some embarrassed later arrives at the theatre, we scurried around the pitch, no doubt annoying the fans that we walked in from of, and even more those who we sat in front of at our chosen locations next to the pitch. Then scrambled to set everything up, cameras, lenses to cameras, lens hoods to lenses, monopod to camera, seat, settle down, and compose myself. Right what’s happening, get into the game.

Understandably, Reading were a little hesitant at first, and for most of the first half Leicester were the much better side. It was no surprise then, that Leicester took a 38th minute lead, Iain Hume’s strike beating Marcus Hahnemann for a 1-0 lead.

During the second half, Reading had a few chances but couldn’t really make the break through that they so desperately wanted. That all changed, when on 85 minutes Kevin Doyle dramatically equalised with a header from a James Harper corner. The Reading supports directly behind me went wild, as Kevin Doyle wield away after scoring his vital goal, and ran to celebrate in front of them, soon to be joined by the rest of the players. The score was now 1-1 but a draw was not good enough to guarantee promotion.

When the final whistle went it was still only 1-1, with Reading only picking up one point. Any thoughts of promotion were going to have to wait, or so the players thought. By the time that news that other results had gone in Reading’s favour, and in fact a draw was enough to guarantee promotion, many of the players had already left the pitch for the dressing room.

It was only when the Reading players started to remerge from the tunnel and began milling about on the pitch that I was aware that something might be happening. James Harper seemed to be particularly happy and when he started hugging some of his team mates, and there seemed to be a general move towards the Reading fans still waiting in their corner of the ground. I quickly had to reassemble one of my cameras that had already been packed away, and attached a flash if I was going to capture any of the celebrations that were sure to follow.

When it was finally confirmed that indeed that other results had favoured Reading and that they had been promoted, the celebrations could really start.

For the record, to achieve certain promotion Reading had played 40 games, won 27, drawn 11, lost 2, scored 82 goals and conceded only 26, on 92 points.

To be continued……..

Bobby Convey is tackled by two Leicester City players

Marcus Hahnemann cuts out a dangerous cross

Two Reading fans show off their hats

Ivar ingimarsson is tackled at full stretch to deny him the ball

Kevin Doyle takes control of the ball

This young fan is showing no signs of nerves

1-0 down and the tensions is showing on the bench

James Harper battles for the ball

Kevin Doyle turns to celebrate after scoring his 85th minute equaliser

Shane Long joins in with the celebrations

Doyle, Kitson & Long celebrate in front of the travelling fans

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