Tales from 1942 to 2013Stan Withers recently told firstname.lastname@example.org why his blood runs Royal blue, what he loves about his seat, and what memories he has - and there sure were a lot...!
I first visited Elm Park in 1942 when I was 9 years old (I am now 80). I used to be at the Reading end - and I remember the low wall, and children being able to sit on the wall, or the ground, or on the pitch side of the wall. At one time, the Spring Gardens Silver Band, under the direction of George Watkins (I think) would play prior to the match and at half time.
Also before the games, two men would walk around the edge of the pitch carrying a large sheet fixed to two poles with a target on, and spectators were asked to throw their loose change at the target! Presumably for charity. During the war, some top players would guest for Reading and other clubs in the area. These were players stationed with the forces in area.
One of these was Matt Busby - although I cannot honestly remember watching these players. I was simply told of them by my brothers who used to take me and they would mention several famous players. Matt Busby’s appearances for Reading are shown on his board at Manchester United, he apparently made 34 appearances.
When I used to cycle to the ground, most of local residents would open their gardens where you could leave your bike safely for a couple of coppers. I attended the Manchester City Cup replay at Elm Park, where the crowd was in the region of 28/29,000 - which is amazing when you think the terracing was railway sleepers.
Another memory is of the match against Racing Club de Paris to open the first flood lights. Wally Hinshelwood had a great game on the wing and the crowd were continually shouting “give it to Wally” – a great evening. In later years I had two Season tickets in the stand, Block D Row D seats 33 and 34. The Social Club was a very cramped bar and after the match, many of the players joined in with the fans. Somewhere at home I have my old Social Club membership card which one year was member No. 0001.
I have been a Season ticket holder at Madjeski Stadium almost since the Club moved there, and I'm in Lower West, Block G9 Row R, Seat number 278. I like my current seat as it is in line with the penalty area, and gives a great view of everything. As you can see in the photos, my children treated me to hospitality for my 80th birthday!
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