Other occasions we’ve met foreign oppositionOur Under-23s take on some of the best and brightest Basque talent on Wednesday at Adams Park in the Premier League International Cup when they host their counterparts from Athletic Bilbao.
It isn’t every day that a club like ours has the opportunity to meet opponents from abroad – so if you can make it, be sure to head along to High Wycombe on Wednesday evening for the 7pm kick-off – tickets are priced just £3 Adults and £1 Concessions!
We’ve taken a look at half a dozen meetings with opposition from abroad throughout the span of our history…
The Italy tour of 1913
Club vs country – that doesn’t happen a lot these days. But our boys met the Italian national side in Turin back in 1913 and were 2-0 victors on a wholly impressive tour. Goals from Joe Bailey and Ted Hanney gave Reading a half-time lead that they never looked like surrendering. Reading had previously beaten Genoa 4-2, AC Milan 5-0 and Italian champions Pro Vercelli 6-0 – leading sports newspaper Corriere della Sera to write, “without doubt, Reading FC are the finest foreign team seen in Italy.”
Who knew that George Best was once a Royal? The Northern Irishman was a Reading guest player for just a day, as was World Cup winner Martin Peters, as the Royals took on New Zealand in an exhibition fixture at Elm Park on 29th October 1984. Those legends of the game were unable to prevent Reading from slipping to a 2-1 defeat to the Kiwis though, as Stuart Beavon’s goal was mere consolation after Grant Turner and Colin Walker netted either side of half-time. But the event was billed as a ‘Football and Firework Spectacular’ – many of the 3,890 in attendance at Elm Park stuck around for Guy Fawkes’ night celebrations after the match.
We have Dutch connections prior to this season – we welcomed Feyenoord to Madejski Stadium for a friendly in 2006, ahead of our very first Premier League season. And if we needed a confidence boost ahead of our inaugural season in the top tier, then a 2-1 win against the Dutch giants – who had Pierre van Hooijdonk and Dirk Kuijt amonst their numbers – would certainly do it. Dave Kitson’s header, midway through the first half, was followed in quick succession by a bundled goal from Ivar Ingimarsson. Benjamin De Ceulaer cut the deficit for the Rotterdam-based side after the break, but the Royals held out for a triumph in this pre-season meeting.
Peace Cup, South Korea
The Royals were invited to take part in the Peace Cup the following season in South Korea (we had some good local knowledge thanks to the presence of Seol Ki-Hyeon) – and this eight-team tournament pitted us against a European powerhouse! We fell to a 1-0 defeat in our opening game as Matías Abelairas netted for Argentine side River Plate, but Simon Cox scored the only goal in a win against Lyon – who at the time were dominant in French football. The Ligue 1 side – which featured attacking talent in Karim Benzema, Hatem Ben Arfa and Kim Kallstrom, couldn’t find a way past Graham Stack… and Cox finished neatly from a Shane Long cut-back at the other end. A 1-0 win against Japanese side Shimizu S-Pulse wasn’t enough to qualify from the group though – Lyon progressed on goal difference at beat Bolton, the other group winners, in the final in Seoul.
Thai All Stars
Our 2015 pre-season saw us take on a couple of international opponents – the first was a fixture against ‘Thai All Stars’, a team compromising some of the best talents from Thailand – and it ended all square at the end of 90 minutes. A spectacular journey to the Asia culminated in an entertaining 2-2 draw against the hosts in a game that see-sawed both ways. Nick Blackman put Reading ahead in the first half, but Pakorn Prempak’s free-kick levelled things up just before the interval. Pinyo Inpinit then got the Thai side ahead, before Pavel Pogrebnyak came off the bench and turned in a Dominic Samuel cross with his first touch.
Back on home soil, our final fixture in the build-up to 2015/16 came against an RCD Espanyol side which had Alex Fernandez amongst their number. Like the game against Thai All Stars, it ended in parity – though this one was without any goals to show for the efforts. Álvaro Gonzalez and Jordan Obita were shown straight reds as tempers spilled over in the second period, but neither goalkeeper was beaten. It was a competitive affair which resulted in holding an established Primera Liga side to a stalemate.
And now on Wednesday, it’s another Spanish side that come to Adams Park to take on Reading's Under-23s – you can pay on the day at Adams Park, and parking is just £2 at the stadium. Click here for more information about the game, as well as some details about where we stand so far in the Premier League International Cup…