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The Italian Job: Allen Foster

13 May 2014

101 Years Ago Today....

This week, is looking back 101 years to a remarkable week in the club's history - when the Biscuitmen enjoyed a successful tour of Italy.

The start of the week saw a review of an historic 5-0 win over AC Milan - a game that was preceded by a 32-hour train journey followed by the games on Sunday and Monday! The players were given the day off and they spent this sightseeing. Most of the playing squad had never been abroad before so they were assisted by goalie Rupert Burnham, who was fluent in Italian, and international referee, Henry Goodley, who had refereed Italy’s first international and was a member of the Italian Football Federation assigned to travel with Reading during their tour. Although Reading did not play a game on 13th May 1913, it is a good opportunity to take a look back at one of the club's heroes. Thanks again to Alan Sedunary who penned this article with his research for our matchday programme 'The Royal'.

Allen Foster
Allen Foster bagged a hat-trick against AC Milan - and it was one of many highlights in his Reading career. Although born in Yorkshire, Allen was signed from Bristol City for a paltry £75 and soon developed into one of Reading’s greatest players. A left-footed inside forward, he topped Reading’s scorers in each of his four seasons at Elm Park, averaging almost a goal every other game. After he had scored the winner over Aston Villa in the FA Cup with a spectacular volley, the Midlands club offered a record £650 for Allen but Reading thought so much of their star player that they turned the offer down. 

Described as ‘a generous and skilled passer’ Allen was thought to be on the verge of an England cap when war was declared. Along with many other Reading players, Allen volunteered for the 17th Middlesex Regiment, known as the Footballers’ Battalion, and was posted to the front line in France but, sadly, he never returned. Involved in fierce fighting at a spot known as Devil’s Wood, Allen suffered serious injuries on 8th August 1916 and although he was transferred to a field hospital 16 miles away, he died later that day. Reading Football Club lost several players in the war but it is fair to say that none were missed more than Allen Foster, both as a player and as a man.  

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