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Monday, 23 April 2012

Reading v Manchester Utd 23.09.06

I am going to change my treatment slightly for the 2006/7 Season. I am not going to be concentrating so much on who scored what, when, and how, but looking more at each game from my own observations and memories. It would be great if anyone reading this blog, would add their own comments, maybe recounting their experiences from the games. It doesn’t matter how long or short you make your comment, but I would certainly be interested to hear how other people remember things, especially from the away games. Any unusual or funny stories would certainly be welcome.

I also intend to add, in addition to the more obvious and important moments captured through my lenses, a far greater selection of images captured from the crowd, the characters, the fans, the people that make a football crowd what it is. Also I am going to include some of the less obvious or more unusual images, most of which would never have been seen before, that are captured during a game but never used. These include some great and often amusing facial expressions, compromising and strange positions that players often find themselves in, only the camera can capture in a fraction of a second.

Anyway, I hope that you enjoy the images from this season, an historical and exciting adventure for Reading FC.

In much the same way as I missed the start of the 2005/6 Season, I missed the start of the 2006/7 Season due to a medical condition that would eventually put pay to my fledgling photographic career, although I didn’t know that at the time. For now at least, I was mad keen to get fit enough and start covering my first game of the season.

For obvious reasons, I set Manchester United at home, as my target match to get myself back on that stool and taking pictures again.

By the time of the Man U game, I had already missed five league games and one cup game.  These included Reading’s first game in the Premiership against Middlesbrough, a five goal thriller that saw the Royals come back from 2-0 down to win 3-2, what a game to miss. Games against Aston Villa, Wigan Athletic, Sheffield Utd and Man City in the league, and a home tie in the Carling Cup against Doncaster, another high scoring game.

It’s interesting to note that of the players that Man City fielded the day they played Reading at the Madejski, only one Micha Richards is still at the club, plus Joe Hart who was on the bench.

It was, therefore, with some anticipation that I made my way to the Madejski Stadium on Saturday 23rd September 2006 for the visit, of what I am sure for most football fans, regardless of allegiance, is still one of the worlds most charismatic, and successful clubs of all time, Manchester United.

I think that I have already described in any early post a bit about what it feels like to be pitch side for a game, and how seeing the players close up through your lenses, gives you a unique and some how intimate view of them. It probably sounds a bit silly, but having been in this position for most of last seasons home games, it was starting to feel as though I actually knew all of the Reading players personally, especially those goal scorers who more often than not made a point of seeking out the cameramen around the ground, to pose and celebrate their goals in front of them. I’m not criticising, I’d do exactly the same in their position, for it is often these pictures that will make the sports pages of the newspapers.

I have to say though, that it is the forwards, the players that score the most goals, that are the ones that pose the most. Players like Leroy Lita, Dave Kitson, Kevin Doyle and Stephen Hunt, all knew exactly where the cameras were and how to make the most of it. Maybe it’s because these players get more practice, or it’s something about the type of character you need to be to make a goal scorer, but these players seemed most keen to pose and play to the crowd. On the other hand, players like Nicky Shorey, Ivar Ingimarsson and Graeme Murty for example who rarely scored, seemed somehow awkward and school boyish in their goal celebrations.

Anyway, back to the Manchester United game. Not surprisingly, the stadium was at capacity for the visit of Alex Ferguson and his Red Devils.

From what I remember, the game was a tense affair. I know that I, and I am sure many others, were expecting Man U to take charge and dominate the Premiership’s new boys, but it never happened. As the game went on, Reading seemed to grow in confidence, and at half time it was still goalless, the crowd seemingly buzzing with admiration.

Early in the second half Gary Neville was adjudged to have handled the ball in the box, so Reading were awarded a penalty. Kevin Doyle stepped up and slotted the ball pass Edwin Van der Sar, 1-0 Reading, the fans went wild.

Reading’s lead lasted until the 73rd minute. I distinctly remember seeing Cristiano Ronaldo through my lens, he was cutting inside from the right midfield, I noticed how fast he was moving, and how I thought that the Reading defender, Graeme Murty, never looked close enough to block his shot. And so it turned out to be the case, as Ronaldo’s unchallenged shot flashed past Marcus Hahneman’s dive. The final score Reading 1-1 Manchester United.

So that was my first Premiership game behind a camera. The highlights for me, the result, being close to so many household named football players, seeing how fast they played the game, and the picture I got of Sir Alex Ferguson in the dugout see below.

Nervous fasces in the crowd, and this was before the game kicked off
Marcus Hahnemann stands tall in the Reading goal
A young Rooney pre-transplant
Ibrahima Sonko superb tackle stops Rooney
A balletic pose from Kevin Doyle
Rio Ferdinand wasn't happy with someone...!!!
Ivar Ingimarsson clears the ball from danger
Sir Alex Ferguson stands out in a crowd
Kevin Doyle only has to get past Vidic and Van de Sar to score

Leroy Lita fends off Rio Ferdinand
Kevin Doyle attempts to beat Edwin Van der Sar

Man U subs Wes Brown and Solskjaer
Brynjar Gunarsson last man standing in the current Reading squad
Sir Alex Ferguson conducting things at the Madejski Stadium
Ivar Ingimarsson and Louis Saha at full stretch
Leroy Lita protects the ball from Rio Ferdinand
Wes Brown stretching those hamstrings
Goal scorer Cristano Ronaldo
Rio Ferdinand eyes shut and tongue out
Louis Saha takes a ride on the back of Sonko, Marcus is keeping his eyes shut

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