Recapping our home triumphs at the start of new campaigns
We’re just days away from Fixture Release Day – at 9am on Wednesday we will learn where our 2016/17 will begin and where our journey will take us between August and May.
And with a new season comes new hopes and aspirations – and nothing quite epitomises this like the opening day of the new campaign! But truth be told, we haven’t always got off to the best of starts when a new season rolls around. Even our record-setting 106 season in 2005/06 began with a defeat – a 2-1 reverse at Madejski Stadium against Plymouth!
So first and foremost – make sure you subscribe to our ECAL calendar to get our fixtures downloaded straight to your device soon after they’re released! With just a couple of clicks you will be all set for the season, as any rearranged games or changes of kick-off times will be updated automatically. Click the ‘Sync to Calendar’ button at the top of this article to get started!
In the meantime, we look at all of our home wins on the opening days since our move to Madejski Stadium. We’ve only won one on the road in that period – away at Blackpool in the 2001/02 campaign – but here we take a look at the four we won when we’ve opened on our patch…
Reading 2-1 Ipswich Town
Saturday 3rd August 2013
The opening day to the 2013/14 season threatened to go in the same direction as many seasons before it, as visiting Ipswich took the lead as early as the 16th minute. And, of course, it just had to be Jay Tabb who netted for the Tractor Boys after making a permanent move from Reading that summer… he had never scored for the Royals in over a century of appearances, and he grabbed his first Madejski Stadium goal on the first day of the new campaign!
But, thankfully, that cruel irony turned out to be academic. A minute before half-time, Adam Le Fondre showed his poacher’s instinct inside the six-yard box as he capitalised on a bit of loose defending from the visitors. Ipswich had a clear chance to reopen the lead through David McGoldrick, but he couldn’t quite apply a touch to Daryl Murphy’s low cross with the goal at his mercy. That would come back to bite the Tractor Boys when Danny Guthrie pinged in a winner from 25 yards with quarter of an hour to spare.
Reading 3-2 Middlesbrough
Saturday 19th August 2006
We have to rewind back another seven years to find our next most recent victory on the opening weekend – and it was a notable result indeed, as it was our very first Premier League appearance. The fixture computer had handed us a home tie against the Teessiders to kick off our maiden top-flight campaign… and it looked like it could be a long afternoon (or indeed, a long season) when Boro raced into a two-goal lead. Stewart Downing and future-Royal Yakubu struck before the mid-point of the first half, leaving Reading on the ropes.
However the boys in blue and white knuckled down, dug in deep, and two goals in two minutes by ginger duo Dave Kitson and Steve Sidwell took the teams level into the half-time break. That set the stage for Leroy Lita – making his first appearance in over five months, having picked up a cruel injury towards the end of the previous year – to hammer in a 55th-minute winner to give us a perfect start to the Premier League era.
Reading 3-2 Brighton & Hove Albion
Saturday 7th August 2004
Two years before, it had ended 3-2 in our favour as well – and it was equally as compelling against the Seagulls. Steve Coppell, who had been Brighton boss less than 12 months earlier, saw his former employers rush into a lead with merely 19 seconds on the clock – the Royals defence were still on their summer holidays when Maheta Molango opened the scoring. But before two minutes had expired, Madejski Stadium had witnessed its second goal of the season as Dave Kitson equalised.
From there, Reading stormed into a two-goal lead through James Harper (netting from the edge of the area before the break) and Nicky Forster (hammering in just before the hour). Jake Robinson, who had just come on as a sub for the Seagulls, cut the deficit back to one in the 63rd minute – but Mark McGhee’s men couldn’t register the equaliser.
Reading 2-1 Bristol City
Saturday 7 August 1999
Jimmy Crawford was a late match-winner for Reading on their first ever opening-day home fixture at Madejski Stadium. 12 months earlier, the Royals had cut the ribbon outside Madejski Stadium to move from their previous home of 102 years at Elm Park… but the season had begun away from home (with a 3-0 thrashing at Wrexham, no less). So 1999 marked the first time our new stadium had hosted an opening-day fixture, and it was Grant Brebner – who had scored the first ever competitive goal at Madejski Stadium a year earlier – struck after 15 minutes against Bristol City.
But things turned sour when, in the 27th minute, Robins debutant Gerard Lavin intentionally blasted the ball into the Reading supporters in retaliation for some goading – he was sent off, arrested by Thames Valley Police after it emerged that he broke a supporter’s wrist, and was spared the sack by the Ashton Gate club. Even so, Brian Tinnion had threatened to earn the visitors a point with a 77th-minute goal, before substitute Crawford popped up with a winner five minutes before the end.