Half a dozen to have donned both jerseysThere are plenty of players that have represented both Reading and Saturday’s FA Cup visitors West Bromwich Albion in recent seasons…
… even now, we have four former Baggies on our books – Matej Vydra, Paul McShane and Simon Cox all played for the Midlands club earlier in their career, as did current first-team coach Steven Reid.
But we profile six of our former players that have also called The Hawthorns their home…
Current Millwall defender Shaun Cummings came through the Chelsea ranks as a kid but never broke into the first team – instead it was on loan with MK Dons that he made his professional breakthrough, before a fleeting four-game loan spell with West Brom at the start of the 2009/10 campaign. He helped the Midlands club to three wins and a draw in August, and Reading came calling for his services on a permanent basis the following month – Cummings went on to feature in our 1-0 FA Cup win against the Baggies the following season. After five-and-a-half seasons as a Royal, he moved back to London in January 2015 to join the Lions.
Ireland international Shane Long was brought over to Berkshire from his homeland in 2005 – few will need any reminder of the impact that he had during his six seasons with Reading. Of the 54 goals he netted in Royals colours, seven came in the FA Cup – that included an extra-time winner against Liverpool en route to the quarter-final in 2010, where he netted our two in the 4-2 loss against Aston Villa. He also scored the only goal in a 1-0 win against the Baggies in the third round the following season – which can only have helped convinced the Midlands club to come in for his signature in the summer of 2011. Long later went on to represent Hull, before linking up with current club Southampton.
Grenadan international Jason Roberts has his own bit of FA Cup history – he helped third-tier Bristol Rovers to the fifth round in 1998/99 by netting a hat-trick in the first round against Welling, rounding off the scoring in a 5-0 second-round replay win against Exeter and hitting two in a 3-0 win against Leyton Orient in round four; Roberts hit the consolatory goal in the 4-1 reverse at Barnsley. From there, the forward joined the Baggies and helped them to the Premier League at the end of the 2001/02 campaign. A decade later, he repeated the feat of promotion to the top flight as a Reading player, having represented Portsmouth, Wigan and Blackburn in the interim – that included another Premier League promotion as a Latic.
Full-back Nicky Shorey’s second arrival at Reading came after his release from West Bromwich Albion in the summer of 2012 – he had left Madejski Stadium four years before to move to fellow Midlands club Aston Villa. He first signed on the dotted line in Berkshire in 2001, after impressive form for Leyton Orient paved a way to the transfer. Seven-and-a-half years and 296 appearances later he was on his way to Villa Park, which preceded loans with Nottingham Forest and Fulham before the Baggies switch. After leaving Reading again in 2013, he has since represented Bristol City, Portsmouth, Indian Super League outfit Pune City, and he made his Colchester United debut against Swindon last weekend. All 13 of Shorey’s career goals have come for Reading – none of those have been in the FA Cup.
Nigerian defender Sam Sodje spent three years as a Reading player – but actually represented the Baggies on more occasions during his two-month loan spell in the Midlands. His one and only Reading goal came in the FA Cup in the 2006/07 season – a vital third goal in a 3-2 victory over Burnley in January; his seventh Reading game was in our 1-1 draw away at Old Trafford, taking Manchester United to a cup replay. By March he had stepped down a tier to move to The Hawthorns on loan – he featured 11 times for West Brom, the last of which was a play-off final defeat as Stephen Pearson claimed a 1-0 win and a top-tier place for the Rams. Sodje’s eighth and final game for the Royals came at the start of the next campaign – a second yellow away at Swansea brought an early end to his Royals career, as he was later loaned out to Charlton, Watford and Leeds.
Arguably one of Oxford United’s all-time great goalkeepers, Phil Whitehead made over 200 league appearances for the U’s before transferring to West Brom in 1998. Soon after his arrival at Oxford in 1993, his new side made the journey to the FA Cup fifth round where they were ultimately edged out by Chelsea; a year later it was a much bleaker picture as non-League Marlow were 2-0 winners in the first round. He joined Reading in 1999 after two years at The Hawthorns; his second FA Cup appearance for the Royals came in a 1-1 draw against Halifax – his town of birth and the team at which he had begun his career. Leaving Madejski Stadium in 2003 with over a century of appearances under his belt, he spent his final year as a player at Tamworth – it was an injury sustained in an FA Cup fourth round qualifying replay against Telford which effectively ended his career.