Royals who have represented Cardiff City
Brian McDermott’s men host Cardiff City in the Sky Bet Championship on Saturday, and the visitors will be looking for three points to keep them in contention for the play-offs.
As per usual, we take this time to look back at those Royals who have once donned the shirt of Cardiff during their careers, and in contrast to previous teams, the list isn’t all that long. Below, we take a closer look at four of those players…
A standout hero with many fans from his time as a Royal, Friday started out his career playing for semi-professional sides Hayes and Enfield in the Isthmian League. It was manager Charlie Hurley who brought the exciting young forward to Elm Park in 1974, where he quickly became a key player in Reading’s promotion to the Third Division at the end of the 1975/76 season, scoring 21 goals in 44 appearances. Mid-way through the following season, Second Division side Cardiff City invested in Friday’s signature, and the striker made his way to Ninian Park having played 121 league games and notched 46 goals in blue and white hoops. Having joined in and around the New Year, 1977 was to be his only term playing for the Bluebirds, as that December he retired from football, aged just 25. There were many doings as to the reason of his retirement, but nevertheless, Friday is still deemed as an all-time cult hero for both Reading and Cardiff City.
A Welsh international full-back with over 60 caps for his country, at the age of 16, Gunter became the youngest ever player to represent the U21’s Welsh side, and in 2007, the then Cardiff City player was named the Football League’s Apprentice of the Year. Having been on the books at Cardiff since the age of eight, he finally left to join Tottenham Hotspur for a short spell starting in 2008, and coincidently his debut for the North London side came against the Royals in an FA Cup tie at Madejski Stadium that January. After a three year spell at Nottingham Forest where the right-back made a combined total of 151(+6) appearances, Gunter finally made his Madejski debut in Reading colours after he’d signed contract with our then Premier League outfit. A consistent performer and regular in the Royals’ back four, the Welsh international now has Euro 2016 to look forward to, as for the first time since 1958, Wales have qualified for a major tournament.
A trainee with Arsenal, Harper owes his spot on this list to a loan spell with the Bluebirds mid-way through the 2000/01 season. The midfielder made three starts for Cardiff against Exeter, Southend and Plymouth Argyle, all before a transfer to Alan Pardew’s Royals side where on his debut against Rotherham, Harper notched the first goal at Madejski Stadium that day as Reading beat the visitors by a scoreline of 2-0. His crowning glory in a Reading shirt has got to be promotion to the Premier League at the end of the 2005/06 season, scoring seven goals from midfield as Steve Coppell’s side were promoted as champions with a record-breaking 106 points. Top flight football became a reality for Harper, but after two seasons in the Premier League, his time as a Royal came to an end in 2009, with moves to Sheffield United, Hull, Wycombe, Doncaster and Barnet to follow, all before joining Basingstoke Town in July 2014.
Adam Le Fondre
A renowned goalscorer with natural talent, Le Fondre became a fan favourite during four seasons at Madejski Stadium. Having notched in abundance for Stockport, Rochdale and Rotherham, he scored his first in a Reading shirt in only his second appearance against Doncaster, and that season he went on to fire 12 goals, including a memorable brace against Southampton, as Brian McDermott’s Royals were promoted to the Premier League for only the second time in the club’s history. Picking up the nickname ‘super sub’, Le Fondre came off the bench to score vital goals against West Brom, Newcastle and most notably Chelsea, although an inaugural season for the striker in the top flight ultimately ended in relegation. 15 goals back in the Championship put Le Fondre in the shop window, and Cardiff City where the recipients of his signature, signing the forward in that summer’s transfer window. Loan spells with Bolton and Wolves followed, and Le Fondre remains a striker at Molineux until the end of the current season.