There is winning the Championship, and then there is winning the Championship in style. The 2005/6 Reading team had already secured the title as early as the beginning of April following their emphatic 5-0 defeat of Derby County.
In the last game of the season, in front of a capacity crowd, the Royals had the chance to finish of the season in style by reaching the highest ever points total in English football history. To do this they had to beat QPR, that would give them 106 points for the season. The previous record of 105 was held by Sunderland.
The home fans had to wait until the 40th minute for the first goal, Dave Kitson scoring from close range, giving Reading a 1-0 half time lead.
QPR continued to threaten in the second half, and on 72 minutes Paul Furlong leveled the score stroking the ball pass Marcus Hahnemann. With the clock running down, and the record seeming out of reach, Nick Shorey appeared on the left wing to cross the ball. Shorey's cross struck the arm of QPR defender Langley's arm in the area, and a penalty awarded.
So the stage was set, a golden opportunity to score a winning goal, so who better to step up than Reading's Captain Graeme Stuart Murty to take the spot kick. Murty had only ever scored one goal for Reading some five years previous. The crowd hushed, the referee blew his whistle and Murty ran in to confidently stoke the ball into the net. Reading 2-1 up, and the record was on again.
Having scored only his second goal in five years, Murty set off at pace to celebrate his goal, persued by his team mates. Running to the corner flag, then turning to run directly down the side line, Murty spotted Kingsley in the distance. Without breaking stride Murty made a dash for the hapless Lion, blessfully unaware of what was coming. In a tackle that London Irish would be proud of, Murty floored the Lion, followed by the rest of the Reading players who all piled on top. What better way to
celebrate a goal, the Championship and a possible English League record.
At the final whistle, Reading had earned anothet three points, and the record of 106 points for the season, an impressive 16 points ahead of second placed Sheffield Utd.
Following the game Reading were presented with the Football League Championship trophy, which is the same trophy as the old First Division (now the Premier League) Champions were handed prior to the Premier League's inception in the 1992–93 season.
|Dave Kitson persued by a delighted James Harper|
|The rest of the Reading players join in to celebrate Dave Kitson's 40th minute goal|
|"Give us a hug"|
|The Championship Trophy|
|Club Chairman Sir John Madejski|
|Manager Steve Coppell acknowledges the crowd|
|Chairman and Manager look on|
|Each player is awared a medal and lines up for the Trophy|
|Sonko gives Leroy Lita a hug|
|James Harper takes it all in|
|Kevin Doyle holding his medal|
|Chris Makin and his son|
|Captain Graeme Murty waits to get his hands on the Trophy|
|Murty is handed the Trophy|
|Gives it a kiss........|
|and lifts it to the roar of the crowd|
|Graeme Murty salutes the crowd and passes the Trophy onto Steve Sidwell|
|We are the Champions|
|Trouble getting the corks out...........|
|That's more like it...............|
|I think Steve Sidwell is having a problem with his cork...!!!!!|
|The celebrations really get going|
|At least one safe pair of hands who won't drop the Trophy|
|Nicky Shorey admires the Trophy|
|Finally Manager Steve Coppell gets to lift the Trophy|
|Steve Sidwell and his weeks old son Harry|
|Graham Stack and a smiling Ibrahima Sonko|
|Ivar Ingimarsson and his son|
|Seems like a fair swap, boots for a flag|
|Even Kingsley gets to show off the Trophy|
|A jubilant Dave Kitson lifts the Trophy|
|Leroy Lita shows these young Royals fans his medal|
|This young lad is spell bound|
|Brynjar Gunnarsson's daughter gets to hold dads medal|
|The proud Captain Graeme Murty|
|Nicky Shorey and his wife look into the crowd while holding the Trophy|
Coming soon, the final part of this momentous 2005/6 Season, the Open Top Bus Tour of the "City" and lap of honour back at the Madejski.
Also a competition, your chance to win a copy of the image of your choice, from the 2005/6 Championship winning season. Look out for details and how to enter in my next and final entry of this historic and record breaking season.