Date of birth
Much is rightly made of the extraordinary progress made by our modern day Academy system. But Ady Williams is living proof that this club has always admired growing our own.
The versatile centre-half emerged from the club’s more modest youth ranks to debut at the age of just 17 in October 1988, almost a decade before Madejski Stadium had even been born.
Before long, thanks to a brief stint in goal when he replaced the injured Steve Francis in 1991, Williams had worn every shirt number from 1 to 11 and the captain’s armband was his as, under Mark McGhee, Reading rose to within a whisker of Premier League football.
Before he could grace the new stadium, the Welsh international was snatched away by Wolves for a fee of £750,000, but the club legend was lured back on loan by Alan Pardew and after his Madejski Stadium debut against Bournemouth in March 2000, he scored his first goal in our new surroundings a week later to earn a 1-0 win over Brentford.
The transfer was made permanent and, overcoming injury niggles, he helped to take his hometown club back into the second tier at Brentford in 2002. In a poll by the Royals fans, he was voted as one of the finest centre backs as part of the clubs best-ever eleven, receiving 59.9% of the vote.
The rise of Ibrahima Sonko forced Williams out of the side in the autumn of 2004, and subsequently he joined Coventry City before ending his playing days with Swindon Town. However Ady is still a regular at Madejski Stadium, adding to his 76 appearances as a player with a regular stint as co-presenter of BBC Radio Berkshire’s match day coverage.