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🏟️ "Playing behind closed doors will be hard for both fans and players...but we just have to get on with it!"

Royals defender Tom McIntyre is openly excited about the prospect of football returning, but he knows that it won't be normal when match action returns.

2 June 2020

Tom McIntyre is a battling centre-half who has come through the ranks at Reading to play in front of thousands for the first team. But he is also a long-time fan and, having sat in the stands and seen some of our highest highs as a supporter, he knows that behind closed doors football is going to be odd and very frustrating.

"It will be really frustrating for fans. And it’ll be hard for the boys as well," he said when reflecting on the prospect of empty stadia.

"The fans always give you a boost on matchdays and when you see the buzz around the stadium...it lifts you. So it will be strange.

"But everyone is in the same boat and there’s nothing we can do about it, so we’ve just got to get on with it."

And getting on with it is exactly what the first team are doing down at Bearwood this week.

"It’s brilliant to be back," McIntyre beamed. "We’ve had such a long time of, not doing much at all. So to be back with the boys and to see your mates – it’s been great.

"The pitches here are brilliant and the facilities are great. But they’ve been working us hard, so it’s not been all fun.

"The heat has made it a lot harder. If you’re in the group that comes in first thing in the morning, that makes it easier than the lot that come in later because it heats up a little by 1pm and that makes it tougher.

"It’s tough for the coaches because there is only so much you can do without contact training.

"But they’re mixing it up and giving us new things every day which keeps it exciting for us – which I think is important, because you work harder when you’re enjoying yourself.

"There was a lot of boredom during lockdown. The club kept in close contact, gave us a lot of runs and different exercises to do. That was good because you could get into a routine.

"And that was the main thing, you needed a routine to stop yourself becoming a couch potato."

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Our Academy graduate did spend a little time sat on his couch, representing the Royals though - as our representative in the Quaranteam FIFA tournament. Tom beat Andros Townsend before bowing out of the competition to a professional gamer.

"It was good fun and it kept me busy," Tom said. "I never thought I’d be so nervous playing game of FIFA.

"I spoke to Andros Townsend after our game and he agreed that it seemed more nervous than the actual games – and he’s played for England and all sorts.

"I watched his video back and he had a towel on his lap because his hands were getting so sweaty. So it was funny. But I want to be known for my football not my FIFA!"

And hopefully Tom may get a chance to demonstrate his worth with the ball at his feet sooner rather than later with a planned resumption set for Saturday 20th June.

"It’s something to look forward to, something to work towards. For the last eight weeks we’ve just been not knowing and it’s been hard to keep motivated at times because you don’t know when the end date is going to be.

"It’s going to be like the start of a new season in a sense. There are sure to be some strange results, anything can happen."


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