101 Years Ago Today
101 years ago today - Reading Football Club pulled off an incredible result, as part of a 10-day tour of Italy that saw the club face the top teams in the country, including the Italian national side. The tour was such a success that Reading were hailed by the Italian press as ‘without doubt the finest foreign team seen in Italy.’ So, this week, we take a detailed look at those series of games, revisiting a collection of fascinating articles first penned by our matchday magazine's historian Alan Sedunary in 'The Royal'. For back copies of our matchday programme - click here.
Monday 12th May 1913
The day after Reading had beaten Genoa in the first game of their Italian tour, they travelled to Milan to face the club now known as AC Milan. The seven times European Cup winners had already won three of their 18 Serie A titles. Usually, Milan played their home games at Campo di Via Bronzetti but for big games they used the Milan Arena. This ground, officially opened by Napoleon in 1806, is the oldest stadium to have staged first class football, having staged Italy’s first international as well as athletic competitions and even bullfighting.
This game was expected to be a tougher challenge than Reading’s easy win over Genoa so one change was made as Allen Foster, our top scorer for the previous two seasons, was preferred to Ivor Brown. Reading’s full team was: Dr J H Burnham; Jack Smith, Charlie Stevens, Jock Comrie, Ted Hanney, Dave Willis; Jim Morris, Allen Foster, Joe Bailey, Andrew Burton, Jimmy Lofthouse. Despite their opponents’ impressive pedigree, it took Reading just two minutes to open the scoring and after 15 minutes the Biscuitmen had scored another two goals. Half time came with Reading 4-0 up and, despite easing up in the second half, a further goal was added to make the final score Milan 0 Reading 5. It was such a comprehensive performance that the home side were restricted to just one chance, which fell to Belgium international Louis van Herge, who went on to win the football Olympic gold in 1920.
Allen Foster was Reading’s hero with a hat-trick while Jimmy Lofthouse and Joe Bailey (although one Italian paper credited this goal to Andrew Burton) scored the other two. Not surprisingly, the Italian papers were impressed with Reading’s display and the Milan-based paper, Corriere della Sera, described Reading as ‘without doubt the finest foreign team seen in Italy’.
Tomorrow.....We take a look at Allen Foster, a Reading hero who was a prominent part of that tour to Italy