We mark the ten year anniversary of our inaugural promotion to the Premier LeagueToday, we mark the ten year anniversary of one of the most memorable away days in the club’s 145-year history! A day most Reading fans will never forget and a moment future generations of Royals supporters should always celebrate.
On Saturday 25th March 2006, Steve Coppell’s Reading won promotion to the top flight for the first time in the club’s history.
It was a 1-1 draw at Leicester City’s then-named Walkers Stadium that sparked the celebrations, although results elsewhere actually meant that Kevin Doyle’s equaliser against the Foxes proved immaterial in the context of actually sealing promotion.
Iain Hume had put the Foxes in front but Doyle headed the Royals level with five minutes of the match remaining. It was confirmed that third-placed Watford had lost 2-0 at home to Millwall, while fellow promotion-chasers Leeds United had been held to a goalless draw at home to Stoke City – meaning the Royals were guaranteed a top two spot and would be heading to the promised land in 2006-7.
News filtered through to the players on the pitch and as the travelling fans partied in the stands, Steve Coppell hurled his coat into the away end in a rare show of exuberant emotion – before he was half-dragged into a celebratory slide by Wally Downes, Kevin Dillon and kit man Ron Grant.
The champagne began to flow and the ‘WE’RE GOING UP’ banners were unfurled on the pitch. Promotion had come as no surprise – the record-breaking Royals had only been beaten twice all season and had led the table for months, conquering all who dared come to Madejski Stadium while winning week in, week out on the road. But promotion meant so much…
“This is the fulfilment of a dream,” Chairman Sir John Madejski said after the final whistle. “It’s a mission completed. It’s been an enormous team effort in the very truest sense and I’m very proud of my team and all those associated with the club both on and off the pitch. It’s just a great feeling and it doesn’t get any better than this!”
In the ten years that have followed, three have been spent in the top tier, twice we have entered end of season play-off campaigns, Brian McDermott’s men picked up a Championship title of their own in 2012 of course, while we have also revelled in three FA Cup quarter-finals and a memorable trip to Wembley for last season’s semi-final against Arsenal.
What happened in 2005-6, the records that would be broken in the weeks that remained, as well as the years of work that went into building the ‘106’ team, it should all be remembered as the start of something special. Reading were officially on the map.