He joined our Academy aged 8, and Tom Holmes got the chance he has worked half his life for on Tuesday night and made his first team debut.
It was Holmes’ first involvement in a first team squad on a matchday, which the 17-year-old took in his stride as the Royals played out a hard-fought 1-1 draw against Bolton Wanderers.
Having been almost ever-present in the U23s this season, he said nothing he’s experienced so far compared to the thrill of making his full debut in the blue and white hoops.
“It was something else,” he said. “It’s something you can’t really prepare for but it was an unbelievable experience, something which I’ve wanted to do since I joined the Academy at the age of 8 – it’s something I’ll never forget.
“It was quite funny because I got the nod for the Wolves game, which was out of nowhere. I was quite shocked but I prepared myself for that one, but then it got snowed off so it was a bit of a difficult one to take.
“I just kept working hard, had a couple of sessions and got the chance to play in this game, and I think I did okay.”
“If you perform in training, you get the opportunity!” – Stam on Holmes debut7 March 2018
Holmes revealed he had a Season Ticket with the Royals from the age of 11, having watched Adam Le Fondre play in a Reading shirt, he ended up marking him for the whole 90 minutes last night!
“I support Reading and I’ve had a Season Ticket here, I’ve watched Adam Le Fondre play and it was an honour to play against him.
“At first it was quite daunting lining up alongside him, but you get into it and it was just another football match, really.”
Holmes was in the travelling squad for the recent mid-season training camp in Spain, with his efforts on the continent recognised with his continued involvement in first team training since.
“Spain was the first exposure I had to first team football,” he added. “I was just delighted to get that opportunity and then to push on, I must have done something well there!
“It was good to see how first team football works and work under the gaffer and the staff.
“We’re pushing for every game and I’m just hoping to try and get another opportunity to play.”
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