Royals looking for 1927 Cup repeatMonday 17th January 1927. A day the Royals can take historic encouragement from ahead of our fifth round clash with Manchester United on Monday night.
That day, 86 years ago, was the last time - and the only time - the Royals have triumphed over the Mancunians in all competitions. Before Reading were first promoted the Premier League in 2006, they had faced Manchester United ten times in the FA Cup - but only once came out on top. In 1912, the Biscuitmen forced United to a replay after a 1-1 draw at Elm Park - but were beaten 3-0 in reply at a very infant Old Trafford ground.
However, 1927 was to be the Royals' year. Angus Wylie's Reading made their first steps in the FA Cup by surviving a thrilling 4-4 draw at Weymouth - only to return to Elm Park and flatteringly win 5-0. In the second round, the Biscuitmen were off to the coast again - this time to face Southend. Braithwaite's brace and Frank Richardson's strike were enough to secure a 3-2 victory and place Reading's name safely into the hat.
Manchester United and Reading's names were drawn together in the draw for the third round - creating an unprecedented buzz around the Berkshire town. The Royals were further buoyed by their impressive league form. Despite a hiccup in the shape of a 5-1 defeat Clapton Orient, the team were flying high after winning three on the trot.
A record crowd and gate receipts ensued for the game - with 28,918 fans paying £1,862 to watch one of the most dramatic games ever seen at Elm Park. The Royals dominated the game - but were quashed by United's underhand tactics and a number of controversial refereeing decisions. Nevertheless, nine-man Reading held out for a replay - less than Wylie's men actually deserved.
Reading were again the much better football side in the return fixture at Old Trafford - and twice took the lead, again via Richardson, only to be pegged back by the home side. Extra time couldn't find a winner, so the tie went to a third game - at Villa Park.
2,824 Royals fans made the journey to Birmingham in two special trains and were not disappointed. Despite going a goal behind, Reading adapted better to the greasy conditions in the midlands and once again rose above the Red Devils' unsportsmanlike and violent behaviour - as Richardson calmly slotted home from the spot top equalise. Having squandered three winning positions over the tie, the Biscuitmen learned their lesson as Johnstone headed home the all-important winner with just 40 seconds on the clock.
The side returned to Reading at 9pm night to be greeted by a huge crowd who gave them an outstanding and well deserved ovation. Richardson inspired the Royals to their furthest run in the FA Cup - as Reading saw off Portsmouth and Brentford on their way to a semi-final defeat to Cardiff. But the hard-fought and eventual victory over top-flight Man United will live long in the memory - and will provide the romantic-type of Royals supporters of an extra slice of hope.
What's more; fast-forward 80 years to Saturday 17th February 2007. In an FA Cup firth round tie (the same stage we're out now), a heroic second half header from Bynjar Gunnarsson cancelled out Michael Carrick's opener at Old Trafford to earn a replay.
A repetition of those feats, in either fashion, would be a welcome result for Brian McDermott's men on Monday night as the Royals aim to create more history.