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Club News

Ryan's Royals: A day to behold

11 April 2015

Ryan's special afternoon at Madejski Stadium

Today was Ryan's day.

This afternoon's Championship game against Blackburn Rovers saw the Royals play in a one-off strip designed by 14-year-old fan Ryan Duval.

Ryan, a current pupil at The Avenue School, suffers from Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a degenerative condition which means he has relied upon the use of an electric wheelchair to go about all his daily activities for a number of years.

And this afternoon was the culmination of an extraordinary community project which saw his initial kit design made into a reality and worn in a competitive game by his Royals heroes at Madejski Stadium today.

Ryan's Madejski Stadium experience began when, sporting his own special Ryan's Royals home shirt, he arrived at midday - and with his family and school teachers he was shown to a hopitality box from where he was going to watch our clash with Blackburn.

With less than ninety minutes before kick off, Ryan was invited down to the first team dressing room to meet the entire Royals squad as they prepared to don his specially-designed shirt for the game and he collected a signed matchday programme that the first team had put together for Ryan beforehand.

Ryan was then invited in to meet the match officials. Referee Michael Bull had seen the story about the #RyansRoyals project and presented the young fan with a referee's shirt, letting Ryan pick out his favourite colour (yellow) to take home with him as an extra memento.

After a spot of pizza in hospitality, Ryan was invited pitchside where he watched the first team warm up in special Ryan's Royals t-shirts before the lads headed back into the dressing room to prepare for kick-off.

Sky Sports spoke to Anton Ferdinand and Ryan before kick-off in the tunnel and, having followed the story its embryonic stages, their footage of the project was played out on the big screen before the game began. As it finished Ryan received an impromptu standing ovation from a Madejski Stadium crowd who were clearly keen, as one, to show their appreciation for Ryan and his much-lauded kit design.

Then came the moment. Captain Jem Karacan led the team out as skipper for the first time and, alongside him on his way out to the centre circle was none other than the boy whose story he had supported from the start, Ryan Duval. As matchday mascot, Ryan had been given the blue carpet treatment at Madejski Stadium and all four stands applauded both sides onto the pitch.

"Back the boys and make some noise...Come on you Ryan's Royals," boomed the PA announcer and, up on the big screen a photo of Ryan accompanied the scoreline: 'RYAN'S ROYALS 0-0 BLACKBURN ROVERS'.

Goalless is how the game stayed, but Sky Sports chatted to a clearly delighted Ryan after the match in a feature which is expected to run on Sky Sports News from 6am on Sunday morning. The BBC's Football League Show were also in attendance so be sure to catch their coverage of our Ryan's Royals game tonight.

Before heading home, man of the match Jamie Mackie and skipper Jem went to see Ryan and his family in their hospitality box and Jem, who has been instrumental in driving this project forward from the start, explained he will be donating his appearance fee for today's game to The Avenue School in honour of Ryan's Royals.

And of course, you can help raise funds for a very worth cause yourselves - Reading supporters will be able to bid on a unique piece of club history by entering the auction for the match-worn shirts from today's game.

Each shirt will be signed by the entire squad, framed with a special presentation plaque and personally presented to the winning bidder on the day of our home game with Brentford, by the player whose shirt they bid highest for.

The first team players are also donating their boots for an auction and, as with the shirts, proceeds will go to The Avenue School, a Special Needs Academy for boys and girls from the age of 2 – 19 with complex special educational needs.

To learn more about The Avenue School click here.
To read more about Ryan and his condition click here.
Watch a video on the #RyansRoyals project here.

Thank you to all who made this afternoon possible. And thank you to Ryan for our Ryan's Royals afternoon!

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