Coming after the joyous celebrations at Leicester City the week before, the next home game against Derby County gave Reading to opportunity to guarantee winning the 2005/6 Championship. Played on a bright sunny April Fools Day, Reading still needed three more points to make it absolutely certain that they would be this seasons Champions.
Before I get into who scored what, when, I thought readers would find it interesting to see behind the scenes, inside the dressing room, and maybe get a flavour of what went on pre-match to help motivated the team to win.
Here is part of a picture that I took post match inside Reading’s dressing room. It shows what must have been part of the pre-match team discussion, and what some of the players thought the answer to the question, “So why we will beat Derby”, would be.
|Pre-Match "Why we will beat Derby"|
First up was Leroy Lita, “we don’t want to do what SWFC did back in 83/84”. I’m guessing a reference to Sheffield Wednesday who lost out to Chelsea who won the old second division in that season.
Next up was Sonko, obviously a man of few words, “J.F.D.I”. The missing word was a J. I’ll let you decide what this means, but I think you will get the drift.
And lastly from “Steve “The Truth” Shorey”, presumably some in-joke referring to Nicky Shorey, “because top teams do not take their foot off the pedal”.
Whatever the pre-match discussion, whatever the motivation required to secure the three more points needed, Reading walked out onto a sunny Madejski Stadium to a near capacity crowd, determined to win the Championship in front of their home supporters.
For the first 45 minutes, it didn’t look as though Reading had listened to their own pre-match motivational chat, as it ended goalless, neither side particularly dominating play.
Fortunately, the expectant home crowd didn’t have to wait to long into the second half before Reading opened the scoring through James Harper who fired in a shot on 59 minutes. This goal seemed to spur on the Reading side, as within 6 minutes Reading went further ahead through a headed goal from Kevin Doyle.
Now 2-0 up and confidence levels raised, John Oster joined in by scoring his first goal for the club on 70 minutes. The complete demolition of the Derby side was finished off by Shane Long who scored two goals in two minutes to make the final score 5-0 to Reading.
At the final whistle, nothing was going to keep the Reading fans from invading the pitch and start their own celebrations. By the time that I had, packed up my gear, and started to make my way across the pitch, well if everyone else is going on the pitch then why not me, the pitch was a sea of cheering Reading supporters.
Having pushed through the throng now surrounding the dugout area, I finally made it to the front of the crowd, and was allowed pass through the ring of security men.
Before I had time to catch my breath, I was once again told, “bring your camera and follow me”. Hang about I thought, that’s the second time I have heard those words in the space of a week.
|James Harper opens the scoring on 59 minutes|
|Kevin Doyle, scorer of Reading's second goal|
|A winning team|
|John Oster scores his first goal for Reading|
|And is mobbed by his team mates|
|Steve Sidwell at full stretch to control the ball|
|Dave Kitson shoots for goal|