Loyal Royal looks back on an incredible dayReading fan Jennifer O'Shea contacted the Club on Monday morning with her personal story of the FA Cup semi-final, and we wanted to share it with our supporters.
If you have a moment to give us your recollections, we'd love to hear from you on firstname.lastname@example.org
Saturday’s game for me was not only one of the biggest days on the football calendar, but one of the biggest games of the year for myself, my husband and our son – not just because we had chosen Wembley over my cousin's wedding, and not just because it was the FA Cup Semi Final and a massive milestone for us, but because our household is massively involved but also split in football.
My husband is a die hard Gooner, travels to every game and all over Europe to watch them – my 9 year old who has been an RFC season ticket holder almost every year since he was born is now understandably wanting to follow in his daddy’s footsteps, but still continues to go to Reading games with me when I can persuade him. I have been a season ticket holder for many years and at one point, must have been the most overdue lady to ever sit in the Mad Stad stands, you almost had a first Mad Stad baby on your hands!
I remember sitting in our lounge when the semi-final draw was being done and celebrating with my husband and son that we would be playing one another. In the run up to Saturday, my husband and all his family and the lads that he travels far and wide with had us down as a walkover – we’d made bets between us, discussed the 'what ifs'.... the banter and beauty of the FA Cup was flowing!
The day of the game came – my husband, his brother a Gooner, our best friend Martin a Royal and our son sat around for a champions breakfast before a nice early start, making our way off to the station. First beer sunk by 9am – it was going to be a good day whatever the result. The mocking continued, all harmless banter and yet I continued to tell them not to put us down as a walkover - McCleary would score for us, we’d get to penalties and then go on to win it – I wasn’t far off!
We met up with some of the Arsenal fans that my husband travels with for a catch up before Martin, my son and I set up to The Torch to get some atmosphere going before the kick off. The Torch was buzzing and we bumped into all the normal faces that we see at the games – everyone was pumped for the game and believing that this wasn’t going to be an Arsenal whitewash. It was simply a fantastic atmosphere with all fans as always being a credit to the club.
The game started and from the offset Reading wanted it – there was no doubt from the 4-4-2 offset, we were not here to park the bus or sit back and minimise an Arsenal hammering, we were there to win and by gosh did we give it a good go! I can honestly say from all sorts of places I’ve travelled with Reading, from the Old Vetch, Elland Road, Turf Moor, to celebrating on the Mad Stad hallowed turf with that glorious 106 season, to the new Wembley, I have never been prouder of the boys. And there is no doubt in my mind that the pinnacle of the team on Saturday was Adam Federici!
The devastating full time whistle came and I called my husband ready for the torrent of abuse and yet all that came was complete admiration for what was a hearty, never easing, 100% committed Reading team that were willing to do absolutely anything to get to that final. We went and met up with my husband so we could travel home together and every single Arsenal fan in the pub that knew us as Reading made a point of coming over to us and reiterating what we were thinking – don’t be downhearted, you gave us one hell of a fright and you should be massively proud of Reading. Walking to the pub, the amount of Arsenal that shook our hands or gave us a little clap – some may say patronising, I’d just say genuinely impressed by the Reading display.
Since the game, the amount of well wishers from all different clubs up and down the country that have been praising Reading is choking. Reading to me are more than a club. We can banter with the best of them, but the community spirit and pure class of our club makes us what we are – I’m sure there may have even been some Oxford fans cheering us on and feeling for us after the game!
And so you begin to reflect on Adam and what he must be feeling right now – it is easy for us all to say chin up mate, you were undoubtedly man of the match and we never would have got to extra time without the performance you put in, but that doesn’t ease what I can only try to imagine is complete heartbreak!
So I will say this to you Adam – I have been with my husband for 12 years and in that time I have had 12 long years of football suffering with my team always in the shadow to everyone around me. Never have we come anywhere near that close to beating Arsenal, who let's face it are one of the top clubs in the whole country and Europe – so if you take anything from the game, I would like to say thank you. For keeping us in it, keeping the dream alive and for not letting your head drop and playing out the rest of the game as if that goal had never come. Your performance on Saturday was everything Reading stands for and I for one could not be prouder to be a Reading fan!
Now show up on Wednesday, put on another outstanding performance and show Arsenal just how lucky they were to have got that one! I know everyone has said it, but that was one hell of a performance you put on and the way you behaved during the game and after has gained you fans not foes, a true professional!