Last season, we brought the team to the town. And after the success of our 2016-17 photoshoot in Forbury Gardens, we decided to deliver your Royals squad for 2017-18 into the heart of the town once more!
So, this afternoon, our first team players and staff boarded a bus into town and headed into to the centre of Reading to take part in another truly unique official squad photo…this time in front of the Town Hall!
The architectural centrepiece in the town consists of four buildings built in the 18th and 19th centuries – the oldest building being the Victoria Hall designed by Charles Poulton in 1786. However, a new council chamber and the clock tower was designed by Alfred Waterhouse and it opened in 1876 – five years after the birth of Reading Football Club!
Reading Town Hall survived an air raid in 1943, which heavily damaged the southern end of the building, and then escaped the threat of demolition in the 1970s. And a Royals link is provided in the finer details of building’s façade; in a stone niche in the Town Hall’s gable, a marble statue of Queen Victoria was commissioned by William Isaac Palmer - a founding partner of Reading’s world famous biscuit company Huntley & Palmers.
And, of course, a large statue of Queen Victoria also oversaw the first team photo this afternoon – the statue, sculpted George Blackall Simonds (who was also responsible for the Maiwand Lion which formed the focal point in last season’s official photoshoot), was erected in 1887 to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. So while the lion in our crest was prominently recognised in the 2016-17 shoot, this season the crown in our club badge has been alluded to.
It’s not the first time that blue and white hoops have flocked to the Town Hall – who could forget some of the incredible images of thousands of Royals supporters lining Blagrave Street and flooding the square in celebration of our first ever promotion to the Premier League back in 2006.
And today, all of our first team stars mixed with the local community on an enjoyable afternoon in the centre of Reading. A flurry of rain passed quickly and, after the main pictures had been taken and the individual shots snapped, five Royals Rewards competition-winners joined the group to take their place as part of our first team too!
Other supporters took snaps in the background and after the shoot had finished the players posed for selfies with supporters young and old, as the centre of town was brought to a temporary halt by a buzz created by the arrival of Reading Football Club in town.
A special thank you to Reading Borough Council, Reading Buses and Thames Valley Police for their support in helping us stage the photo in such a central location. And here's to a fantastic 2017-18 campaign!
Front row (left to right) | Sone Aluko, John Swift, Garath McCleary, Paul McShane (captain), Michael Gilkes (First Team Coach), Said Bakkati (First Team Coach), Brian Tevreden (Sporting Director), Jaap Stam (Manager), Ron Gourlay (Chief Executive), Andries Ulderink (Assistant Manager), Dave Beasant (First Team Goalkeeping Coach), Chris Gunter, Liam Moore, Jordan Obita, Liam Kelly.
Middle row (left to right) | Danny Flitter (First Team Sports Therapist), Ed Franklin (Head of Elite Performance), Stephen Quinn, Leandro Bacuna, Joey van den Berg, Tiago Ilori, George Evans, Tyler Blackett, George Legg, Vito Mannone, Anssi Jaakkola, Yann Kermorgant, Jon Dadi Bodvarsson, Dave Edwards, Roy Beerens, Modou Barrow, Jon Urwin (Head Physiotherapist).
Back row (left to right) | Phil Adkins (First Team Strength and Conditioning Coach), Scott Madle (Lead First Team Performance Analyst), Callum Harriott, Andy Rinomhota, Pelle Clement, Sam Smith, Tennai Watson, Omar Richards, Adrian Popa, Stewart Bannister (Kit Manager), Luke Bishop (First Team Kit Assistant), Matt Walker (First Team Sports Scientist – GPS Analysis Lead), Matt Hirons (First Team Physiotherapist).