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⚽ Our Watney Cup clash against United's megastars | 50 years on!

Historic Elm Park encounter with Manchester United, 50 years ago today!

1 August 2020

Fifty years ago today, also a Saturday, Reading were part of football history.

We competed in the first ever sponsored tournament in English football.

The occasion was the Watney Cup quarter-final against Manchester United played at Elm Park.

Watney’s were a national brewer and entry into the eight team tournament was by being a high-scoring club in the previous (1969-70) season.


Reading caught the glamour tie of the round, televised by ITV’s The Big Match in a Sunday highlights show. And United brought their strongest team including Bobby Charlton, Pat Crerand, George Best and Denis Law.

It was a scorching hot cloudless day and a crowd of over 18,000 turned up at Elm Park. And the game was a good one and suitably high-scoring with United winning 3-2 and Charlton scoring a couple.

Reading’s skilful and intricate forward play was much admired by neutrals with neat goals from Gordon Cumming and Dick Habbin. Pundit Jimmy Hill likened Reading’s style to that of Brazil who had just marvellously won the 1970 World Cup in Mexico.


Manchester United continued to make history in the semi-final by winning the first ever penalty shootout in English football but they lost in the final to Derby County.

The Watney Cup ran as a pre-season tournament for just four seasons.


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