Eight to have represented the Royals and the TigersDespite a 200-mile expanse between Reading and Hull, the distance hasn’t been too off-putting for footballers: there are a fair few that have represented both the Royals and the Tigers during their time in the game.
Ahead of our latest visit to the KC Stadium, which comes on Wednesday evening, we profile eight people with club connections for both sides…
Striker Nicky Forster began his professional career with Gillingham, having been spotted on the non-League circuit with Horley Town. After spells with Brentford and Birmingham, the forward linked up with Reading in 1999 and netted 10 goals in his maiden Royals season. He finally departed Madejski Stadium in 2005 with 214 appearances and 67 goals to his name (18 of which came in the 2001/02 promotion-winning season), and linked up with Ipswich on a free transfer. A year later he joined Hull, scoring six goals in his single season with the Tigers. He is currently manager of Staines Town in the Ryman League Premier.
Current Royal Stephen Quinn – who is presently working hard to overcome injury – moved directly to Reading from Hull last summer when the Tigers were relegated from the Premier League. It is this Irish international’s first venture south on a permanent basis – the playmaker did play 15 league games on loan with MK Dons in 2006, joining from parent club Sheffield United, but went on to become an integral part of the Blades’ side until his departure in 2012. He collected the Players’ Player of the Year award in his inaugural season at the KC Stadium, as the Tigers were promoted to the Premier League, and featured in the FA Cup final against Arsenal in 2014. He has 11 appearances under his belt in Reading colours.
Winger Stephen Hunt moved the other direction to his compatriot Quinn – after four successful seasons with Reading, he transferred to Hull in 2009. An academy player with Crystal Palace in his younger days, he first made his name on the other side of London with Brentford – his performances at Griffin Park led to interest from the Royals, and he joined in time to be part of the record-breaking 2005/06 Championship title-winning season. The Tigers paid a reported £3.5 million for his services, and he netted in each of his first two games – albeit in defeats to Chelsea and Spurs. He is currently unattached, following spells with Wolves and Ipswich.
Another ex-Royal that moved to Madejski Stadium from Brentford, rangy centre-half Ibrahima Sonko was a commanding presence in the Reading rear-guard over his four full seasons with the club. The Senegalese international had joined the Bees from French second-tier outfit Grenoble; in his second season with Reading, he netted three goals in the push to 106 points – including a late winner at home against Crystal Palace. Newly-promoted Premier League club Stoke City paid for his services at the start of the 2008/09 season – however he struggled to find regular game-time for the Potters, which prompted a loan move to fellow top-tier side Hull where he made nine appearances. He returned to England last summer, following a spell with Turkish side Akhisar Belediyespor, and currently plays for Harlow Town.
A mainstay of the Royals midfield for over a decade, current Bradford manager Phil Parkinson first linked up with Reading in 1992 as he transferred from Bury. He was part of the 1993/94 Second Division title-winning side, and lifted the club’s Player of the Year award in both 1998 and 1999. More success followed in the blue and white stripes, as he captained the club to another promotion in 2002 – his tenth season with the club. He left a year later to take up his first managerial post at Colchester United, and guided the side to the Championship before leaving to take the reins at Hull in the summer of 2006. A poor start to the season meant he and the Tigers had parted company by Christmas – but after a spell at the helm at Charlton, he turned heads with the Bantams as Bradford reached the League Cup final and earned promotion in 2012/13.
Current Royals defender Paul McShane moved from Hull to Reading alongside compatriot Stephen Quinn in the summer, and was named as club captain at the start of the campaign. Formerly a youth player at Manchester United, McShane first truly cut his teeth at Brighton – he was voted Player of the Year during his 2005/06 loan spell with the Seagulls, which prompted West Brom to take him off the Red Devils’ hands. He first joined Hull on loan from Sunderland for the first half of the 2008/09 season, and returned to the KC Stadium at the end of the campaign on a permanent switch. McShane helped Hull to promotion in 2012, and netted five goals during his 137 matches for the club before moving to Madejski Stadium.
Full-back Liam Rosenior, who returned to Madejski Stadium wearing Brighton colours earlier this season, is another to have spent time with both Reading and Hull. The England Under-21 international joined the Royals from Fulham in 2007, in a deal that saw Seol Ki-Hyeon move the other way, and was on the Reading books until 2010. The final year of his three with Reading was spent on loan at Ipswich, which paved the way for an exit to Hull at the start of the following campaign. After five seasons and 161 appearances for the Tigers, he departed for the south coast to join Brighton in June – with Rosenior in the right-back slot, the Seagulls remain undefeated in the Championship this season.
More widely known for his contribution at Reading than Hull, James Harper’s career really flourished with the Royals after moving from Arsenal. Appearances for the fledgling midfielder were limited with the Gunners, but he went on to play 339 times for Reading, spanning over ten seasons. He joined Reading in Division Two and helped fire the club to promotion in his second campaign; four years later, he was part of the history-making 2005/06 Championship title-winning side, meaning he would go on to play Premier League football – representing the Royals in three different tiers on the pyramid. Departing in 2010 to join Sheffield United, he joined the Tigers for their 2010/11 Championship campaign before moving on to Doncaster and then Barnet. Harper now plies his trade down the road with Basingstoke Town.