When John Swift netted our first goal of the night against Nottingham Forest last week, few of us registered any extra significance beyond the background of the game at hand.
Of course, it was a terrific piece of build-up play and a cool finish to a razor-sharp counter… so the quality alone was a sight to behold! And in the context of the match, it set us on our way to a terrific result against a team in good form.
But there was a broader significance too… Swifty’s first goal of the night was precisely the 6,000th league goal in the history of Reading Football Club!
On the night, we made inroads towards the next big landmark… another for Swift and a first in Royals colours for Sone Aluko took us to 6,002. And four at Derby – Liam Moore, Aluko, Roy Beerens and Mo Barrow the scorers – means that we have 6,006 to our name in league action at time of writing.
The question is, of course, who were the players to hit the previous five milestones? Let’s have a look!
Goal 1,000: Horace Fielding vs Millwall, 21st December 1935 (Division 3 South)
The sole goal of the game by winger Fielding was the difference in a 1-0 win at The Den in a festive meeting between Reading and Millwall – just his third of the campaign, of an eventual total of 11, was the strike which took us to four figures for the first time. Reading had raced towards the 1,000-mark that season, notching four against Clapton Orient and five apiece against Newport and Bristol City in order to pass the landmark before Christmas.
Winning was a bit of a habit for the Biscuitmen back then… Fielding’s team eventually finished third in Division 3 South in 1935/36, adding to a second-place finish the previous year and third the year before.
Goal 2,000: Brian Kirkup vs Millwall, 24th December 1955 (Division 3 South)
It took precisely 20 years and three days to hit the next thousand goals – of course, hindered by seven football seasons lost to the Second World War. And it came courtesy of Brian Kirkup, who eventually finished our 1955/56 campaign as leading goalscorer with 16… although a 17th-placed finish made for an unmemorable year.
Reading had drawn blanks on nine occasions before the Elm Park meeting against Millwall… but goalscoring had become less of a recent issue in the weeks building up to the game against the Lions, who again suffered the ignominy of being our opponents as we passed another thousand. Kirkup, who had scored two in his previous game and one in the fixture before, this time hit a hat-trick in a 4-1 triumph. It was the first goal of the game which was number 2,000 – he added two more and Wally Hinshelwood took us to 2,003.
Goal 3,000: John Collins vs Northampton Town, 8th March 1969 (Division 3)
Forward John Collins had the high of netting number 3,000 for the Royals, but ultimately the low of being on the wrong end of a 4-2 scoreline against a Northampton Town side that was fighting towards the bottom end of the division at the County Ground. It was the second winless fixture of a spell of six without tasting victory.
17 goals for the campaign marked a good return for the inside-left on an individual basis in the second of his two seasons… but his side ultimately finished 14th, compared to fifth the year before.
Goal 4,000: Ian Juryeff vs Brentford, 29th December 1984 (Division 3)
In a campaign where Dean Horrix notched 19 and Trevor Senior scored 22, there’s a sense of irony that one of Ian Juryeff’s two goals as a Reading loanee should have been the one to take us up to the 4,000 landmark just in time for the start of 1985. And, like Collins’ goal 15 years prior, it had little real significance as it was part of a Royals defeat.
5,161 supporters were inside Griffin Park to witness Juryeff’s goal, our sole strike in a 2-1 loss. The Gosport-born forward spent two months as a Reading loanee during the 1984/85 campaign, playing a total of 10 times across league and cup competitions.
Goal 5,000: Ady Williams vs Wycombe Wanderers, 22nd September 2001 (Division 2)
Still a regular at Madejski Stadium to this day as part of the BBC Radio Berkshire commentary team, former Royals skipper Ady Williams was the one to take us precisely half way to five figures with our 5,000th goal against local opponents Wycombe Wanderers. 13,565 supporters were inside Madejski Stadium for our 2-0 win against the Chairboys; Darius Henderson netted our second.
From the skipper’s point of view, it could hardly have been better timing to net your only goal of the campaign when it took us up to the milestone of 5,000 in the league! But more importantly, Williams’ role in the heart of defence across the campaign ensured that we would concede just 43 times, ultimately finishing second, and getting promoted to the second tier at the season’s end.
Goal 6,000: John Swift vs Nottingham Forest, 31st October 2017 (Championship)
Swift’s goal is still fresh in the memory – in fact, it’s up for selection right now in our October 2017 Goal of the Month voting! Admittedly the 6,000-mark might have been reached sooner, but we were unable to register more than a single goal per game throughout September and October up until that point… but that game has tapped a vein of goalscoring form!
Another by Swift followed, and a first for Aluko in our 3-1 win. And then we hit four for the first time this season with a 4-2 triumph in Derby… and now our fate for the rest of the season is in our own hands!