Five to have represented Reading and BrightonThis evening’s hosts are Brighton & Hove Albion, who are gunning for a place in the top tier of English football for the first time since 1983.
In recent seasons, we have seen a number of players turn out in the colours of both clubs via all kinds of different routes. Matthew Upson, Leroy Lita, Paul McShane, Liam Rosenior, Lloyd Owusu. Greg Halford, Nicky Forster, Wayne Bridge and Tony Rougier are just a few of those that spring to mind – however we shine the spotlight more closely on these five…
Centre-half Ingimarsson first moved to England to join then-Third Division Torquay United on a loan spell from Icelandic side IBV in 1999 – after four matches with the Gulls, he has impressed sufficiently to convince Brentford to pay for his services permanently. Ingimarsson left the cash-strapped Bees after three years to joined Wolves, but never truly settled at Molineux… he featured more times for Brighton on loan from February onwards than he had in the gold and black during the first half of the 2002/03 season. He had a happier time at Reading, who he joined at the end of that season; he finally left Madejski Stadium in 2011 after eight years with the club, in which he won promotion to the top-flight, been named the 2006/07 Player of the Year, and been named captain of the club. He finally hung up his boots in 2012 after one final season on the books with Ipswich.
Giant Danish stopper Andersen returned to his homeland last summer to join Midtjylland after spending eight seasons on Reading’s books. Moving to Madejski Stadium from Akademisk in 2007, he was another to spend a loan stint at Plainmoor as he made three appearances for Torquay, before making a further three for fellow Conference outfit Rushden & Diamonds later that season. That was his Reading spell encapsulated – Andersen spent a further five loan stints away from Berkshire in a bid to get game-time. Brighton, then in League 1, had his services for five fixtures during the 2008/09 season, while Brentford, Bristol Rovers, Portsmouth and Danish club Randers all gave him game-time. In only his final season with the Royals, 2014/15, did Andersen see first-team action with Reading, and with Midtjylland he grabbed the headlines earlier this year as the Scandinavian club defeated Manchester United 2-1 in the first leg of their Europa League tie.
Currently Royals stopper Al-Habsi is another goalkeeper to once have spent a loan spell with Brighton… although it was just a single fixture last season spent in the Seagulls’ colours, as he covered for the injured David Stockdale. His joined on loan from fellow Championship club Wigan but had something of a luckless afternoon against Bournemouth; teammate Gordon Greer inadvertently diverted past him for the opener, and Yann Kermorgant – then on the Cherries’ books – slotted in a penalty to secure a 3-2 win. The Omani stopper, like those above, also spent time in Scandinavia; he was on loan with Lyn Oslo in Norway before joining Bolton. Known chiefly in England for his spell with Wigan, where he was an FA Cup winner, Ali is fast securing cult status at Reading since joining the club last summer… some of the outstanding saves he produced against Crystal Palace last Friday typified why his name is so often sung in the Madejski Stadium stands and why he has twice been named Player of the Month already.
Midfielder Sidwell is currently on the books with the Seagulls; he joined the Sussex club at the end of January on a deal that will keep him at the Amex until the end of the season on loan from Stoke, and has featured on seven occasions to date. It is his second loan spell with Brighton – the first came way back in the 2002/03 campaign, moving to the Withdean Stadium as a talented young Arsenal academy graduate. 12 appearances and five goals during that spell paved the way for Reading to seal his services in the winter window that season; he would go on to feature 187 times for the Royals, which included helping the team to 106 points a decade ago and then featuring 35 times in the Premier League for Reading the following year. He has been in the top tier ever since; his involvement against Liverpool on the opening day became the 10th straight season in which he had featured in the Premier League, with Chelsea, Aston Villa, Fulham and Stoke all utilising the midfielder.
Striker Murray is something of a latecomer to the upper echelons of the English leagues. Starting out at Workington Reds, near his home in Maryport, the forward represented American side Wilmington Hammerheads and Barrow before joining Carlisle in 2004. He played a fairly peripheral role in the Cumbrians’ consecutive promotions, which took them from the Conference to League 1 in 2006, but he ended up back in League 2 with Rochdale in the search of game-time. Joining Brighton in 2007, his goalscoring ratio improved year-on-year during his four seasons with the club – that was capped with 22 goals in 2010/11, which helped to fire the Seagulls to the League 1 title. He would play Championship football the next season, but that came in the colours of their fierce rivals Crystal Palace, where he moved on a free transfer. Any scepticism that the Eagles’ fans had was wiped out as he netted 30 times in the league during 2012/13, winning promotion with the London club. He made 18 appearances as a Royals loanee last season – two of his eight goals came on his debut in a 3-0 win against Fulham, and another two came against his former side as the Royals drew 2-2 away in Brighton. Now at Bournemouth, he scored the game’s only goal as the Cherries defeated Chelsea 1-0 at Stamford Bridge in December.