In the 1968-69 football season, the University of Reading’s football first team had one of its most successful campaigns, reaching the semi-final of the national Universities' Athletic Union (UAU) championship. 50 years on, members of that squad were reunited at Madejski Stadium at our game against Aston Villa on Saturday.
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After victories over Bath, Bristol, Exeter and City Universities, Reading had an epic quarter-final encounter with Manchester University. The match at the University’s Whiteknights campus on 22nd January 1969 was the proverbial ‘mudbath’, ending in a 3-3 draw after three periods of extra time mandated by the UAU officials at the game. A replay was ordered and one week later on 29 January 1969, Reading prevailed with a 2-1 win in Manchester.
The semi-final against Loughborough Colleges was played on Wednesday 5th February 1969 under floodlights at Elm Park, then the home of Reading FC. The hard-fought match resulted in a 1-0 defeat, so the University failed to reach the prestigious national final – if only the dog which invaded the pitch had scored when clean through on the Loughborough goal.
For the 50th anniversary of one of Reading University’s biggest matches, Sid Forrest, goalkeeper and captain of the 1968-69 football team, organised a reunion for the squad of the day.
With fantastic help from the University’s Alumni Office, Sid tracked down another 11 members of the first team squad, several of whom are also Reading graduates. Sid has been living in the USA since 2002 and travelled from Pennsylvania for the reunion, while others came from far and wide across the UK.
The team toured the Whiteknights campus on Saturday morning, including the highlight of revisiting the Sports Park, the scene of so many great matches in the late 1960s.
And in the afternoon, the squad took up their invitation to be our guests in Hospitality at Madejski Stadium as we met Aston Villa.
Most of the players, who attended with members of their families, have not seen each other since graduation – so nostalgia and reminiscing was the order of the day. We hope that everyone enjoyed their time together in each other’s company back in Reading.