Having only just settled into his fourth season as a Royal, the skipper has already notched his 150th appearance in blue and white hoops – and what a game it was, too. Liam Moore wore the armband as Matt Miazga’s last-gasp goal led the Royals to a hard-fought win against Preston just over a fortnight ago.
The grit, determination to succeed and fight to the end are all traits that have typified Moore as a Reading player so far, having officially taken over the captaincy at the start of the season.
The 26-year-old’s place in the heart of the Reading defence has been set from the start of his time in RG2, and he has shown on multiple occasions that he will overcome injuries and fight on through it all in the name of the Royal cause.
He admitted himself in his programme notes against Preston that it hasn’t always been a smooth ride in his spell as a Reading player to date, with the last two seasons in particular seeing the Royals fighting at the wrong end of the Sky Bet Championship table.
With a fantastic landmark achieved, it was the perfect time to catch up with the Reading captain as he took part in a special edition of The Long Read, where he would be shown pictures throughout his spell as a Reading player to date, and he talked us through his memories of some of the key moments from his time with the Royals…
Moore joins the Royals, 2016
I remember this being a big day for myself and my family. I’d been at Leicester from the age of six or seven, that was home for me – whenever I’d been on loan, I always knew I was returning home, but this was different. I signed a long-term deal and it was a fresh start, it was an opportunity I knew I had to take.
I’d had a couple of dodgy loans, I hadn’t really found my feet and I hadn’t found any real consistency. I loved my time at Leicester, but I was always seen as the young kid who had come through, so it’s quite hard to shake that label off sometimes. I was coming here as an investment by the club, they believed in me and it was a bit nerve-racking, I knew I needed to make it work. It was a new lease of life for me.
Royals debut vs MK Dons
I remember the game, obviously you want to make a good first impression. It was a good start for me because I hadn’t really had much of a pre-season, so a cup game was a good way to get in. The only thing that didn’t help was that it went to extra time, so by the end I was struggling with cramp from the top of my legs to the bottom.
What does stand out in my mind is the head injury that Liam Kelly sustained in that game, that’ll always stick with me. Big Coops came over the top of him and knocked him out, bless him. It was a good game, I was solid enough and it was good to get back out on the pitch to get a bit of match practice before the real stuff started in the league on the Saturday.
A first goal for Reading, Blackburn (A)
Controversial! This was stomach/chest, if they had goal-line technology back then I’m not sure I would have got it, but it’s been long enough for me to admit that now.
This was a good game for many reasons, my first goal and it was a last-minute winner from George Evans, it helped because it was just before the Christmas do. So, it went into a really special time with the lads, and after a last-minute winner it’s always much more enjoyable.
A dramatic Play-Off night
Massive, massive game. We were written off before the Play-Offs even started, to be honest. There was talk of teams trying to avoid teams before the Play-Offs, but what Jaap did that year was special.
We went away to Burton and we played a full-strength team, he was desperate to get the win, even though it would have got us what everyone saw as the strongest team in Fulham.
We went into that game with some momentum behind us. We did really well away from home, then we brought it home and the atmosphere was electric. It was a special night, and one I’ll remember. It’s definitely one of my best nights at the club.
I knew this one was coming. I’ve just spoken about one of the best nights, and this was one of the worst – there’s a couple of others that come close, for different reasons. This is just football, in two photos – the highs and the lows.
The thing that pleases me most about this photo, looking back, is the bounce-back that I’ve had since then. A younger me probably would never have got over that, but I’m happy with the way I dealt with the situation and the way the lads dealt with it.
If it happened again tomorrow, I’d step up. Obviously, I visualised myself scoring but it didn’t happen on the day. I’ve seen some of the top players in the game miss penalties, I’ve missed one myself and it won’t be the last time someone misses one. It’s one of those things, if I said I never visualised it going in, I’d be lying, but so be it. It happened, but we move on.
How much has that moment formed the person and player you are now?
A lot. I thought I was mentally strong before that, but afterwards, definitely more so. If I have a blip in form, a bad mistake, a bad game – if I keep making the same mistake, it’s different, you need to have a serious look in the mirror – but things happen in football. It’s a mistake, you move on quickly.
Battling on after clashing heads with Tiago Ilori against Boro
If you can, you should always carry on. Tiago’s injury was different, he was concussed, mine was just a good knock. It looks a bit more gory than it was. It was a big smash, I remember that. You get up and you get on with it, that’s the way I’ve been brought up with it.
With the second picture as you see, the doctor was incredible on that day. He was under pressure because Tiago had come off, I don’t think we had another defender on the bench, I was always coming back on, but he had to do it at speed because we were down to 10 men. He stitched me up really well, I’m happy with the scar and I got back out there for the rest of the game.
People had seen it and probably thought there wasn’t any coming back from it, but people who know me know that I’m not coming off unless I really have to. I didn’t really think too much of it, to be fair. You get up, get on with it and you need to be there for your team.
A vital win and a dislocated shoulder against Wigan
This was a bit of a strange one. It was a jump for a header, which I’ve done many times. I remember just before leaping to go up for it, I felt a tug on my arm. It was the weirdest sensation ever, literally feeling my arm dangling around. But again, the doc came on the pitch and the first thing I said was: “I’ve dislocated my shoulder, but I’m carrying on,” and he’d never re-inserted before, but he’d been taught to do it and he’d seen other people do it, he had a little feel with the ball in the socket, gave it a good push and that was it – back in, game on. I got Man of the Match, that’s always a bonus.
If I remember rightly, that was a last-minute winner as well. It’s one of those things, if I can carry on then I will. It’s football, my arms aren’t needed as much as my legs! The doc did a great job, but I wanted to carry on.
We were under pressure at that point, we needed a result. All hands on deck and we got it in the end, so it paid dividends. It showed the fight that we showed throughout from January onwards, the team spirit continued through the season and right to the end.
Taking over the armband and training at Bearwood
This was a great day. This is going to be one of the best training grounds in the country, so to kick the first ball in anger was a big honour. On that day, I was told I was captain – it was quite calm, the way I was told, but for me it was a big thing.
It’s something I always wanted to do as a kid, I captained every age group from being 8 or 9. I’ve always been vocal, I’ve always liked to lead by example and, to be given that, is massive. It was a great day for my family, celebrated by everyone because they all knew what it meant to me. I can’t say enough how proud I am to be captain of the club.
There’s a lot of work that goes into it behind the scenes, you have to make sure the not-so-nice stuff is done properly. I collect fines, I have to make sure the standards are high, give people a rollicking every so often on the pitch because you have to be the go-to man. It’s an honour I’ve enjoyed, and I feel I’ve thrived from it – I’m enjoying how it’s going.
I’m willing to go through whatever it takes to help my team, I think that’s one of my qualities as a captain. I came here to play games, so let’s keep going, keep rolling out the games, if we can get some success along the way, then even better. I want to leave my print on Reading FC, and we look forward to the future.
A late, late win to notch up 150 appearances against Preston
This was a big day. There was a lot said before, it was a little bit difficult for the players as well. We were told the situation from the start, but from the outside I don’t think everybody was told the situation or how it came about. There was a lot of negativity from outside and I think a dampener was put on the club at the time from people outside, people were thinking that we would be heading in the wrong direction. But from within, we felt comfortable with the situation and we felt good going into the game against Preston.
We’d prepared well, and it was only three points, but they were a massive three points mentally, and for morale. From the crowd as well, you sometimes look back at moments that unite everyone and that was probably up there. The crowd saw the battling that went into the game, the fighting spirit, the unity, but then when you get a last-minute winner as well, it tops everything off. A great, great day.
We’re early in this new start, things have gone okay but it’s one step at a time. We saw it a couple of months ago where we got seven points in a week against top opposition, but then it went in a downward spiral. It’s about attention to detail now, every game, every training session, we need to get it right.
We’ve set a baseline now. We haven’t come close to our best football yet, we’ve done well in periods, played some okay stuff in periods, but we’ve shown the side that’s been questioned – I hate that being questioned, the fight and desire. That can’t be questioned. We’re lucky to do this job, we’re lucky to play for this club, so let’s keep that fighting spirit throughout now and see where it takes us.