Away Day Tales: Episode 11 - Aggborough (8th Jan 2022)

6개월 전

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"The Magic of the Cup" - A long held and well known phrase in English football to help describe the emotion when non league teams get to play prestigious matches against top flight opponents. So when Reading were drawn away to Kidderminster Harriers, the lowest ranked side left in the FA Cup 3rd Round, I simply had to go - especially as it's a ground that I've never been to. It also meant that I could wear my "lucky" cup hat (with bells on) - a hat that I believe has never seen a Reading victory since it purchased when we lost the play-off final to Walsall back in 2001. Magic.

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The Journey

Kidderminster's a long way from Eastbourne (roughly 5 hours) so I decided to stay overnight in Reading to break the journey up and visit a friend in Worcester on my way. So I set off from Winnersh Triangle (a small train station on the outskirts of Reading) with a few hours in hand to catch up with my friend. Much to my surprise, I wasn't the only one setting off early. When I reached Reading Station, the platform was packed with expectant "fans", carrier bags full of beer, ready for the long journey North. Some faces I recognised and when the train arrived, the train quickly filled.

I soon realised why I recognised these faces... I've been travelling to Reading away games for about 25 years now and many of this lot had been too - It was Reading's "Firm". The hooligan element dressed in their Stone Island gear and Burberry (Aquascutum) scarf getting tanked up. By 11am, our train arrived in Worcester where they would follow me to the local Wetherspoons where I was meeting my friend for lunch - most of them already 5 beers in.

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Welcome to Aggborough Stadium

Kidderminster Harriers play in the 6th tier of English football (the 2nd tier of Non League Football) - the National League North and their ground reflects this. A nice, old skool terraced ground with a capacity of around 5,000, nearly 1,500 of which would be the travelling Reading fans. (The official attendance was 5,178, which includes 1,458 Reading supporters.) For me, it's grounds like this that make football - Not your modern, fancy stadia selling gourmet burgers and fine ale. And for them, a big game - so I bought a half/half scarf 🙂

After following the signs reading "Away Fans" with helpful arrows to direct me, I reached a closed gate and was told to go around the other way - i.e. walk all of the way around the stadium. Wankers Stupid signs.

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Pre Kick Off

It's probably been 3 years since I last went to a football match - maybe longer... and it was good to be back. We had a covered terrace which is always good for making some noise and the travelling fans were in fine voice...

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The Match

I don't know how much I can say about this. This is the worse Reading team that I can remember for a long, long time and is battling to stay in the Championship. The last time we were in this league position (relegation to "Tier 3"), I'd travelled to Oxford United and my memories of that day were less to do with the football and more to do with the riot afterwards - more on that later.

We were dreadful. And against the run of play, we took the lead narrowly before half time. George Pușcaș scoring up the other end of the pitch, his first goal since I don't know when... his first goal this season which for a Forward who's made 18 starts is pretty shit. (5th April 2021 was his last goal.) For a guy on £14,000 per week, I expect more. That's roughly £560,000 he's been paid since he last scored. Regardless, he got his song. Probably the last time we'll ever hear it sung.

1-0 up at Half Time, happy days but we're good at throwing away leads. Only last weekend we managed to throw away a 2 goal lead at home to bottom of the league Derby County in the last 10 minutes but this is different - these guys are Non League and we have a Premier League winner and full internationals on the pitch.

Then some dick head decides to rip an advertising board off the front of the stand. We're talking a 2m x 0.5m piece of fairly hard plastic with sharp corners. In their dick-headedness, they chuck it in the air and it obviously hits somebody. Somehow, this didn't end in violence as an angry father hunted for blood. And who would have blamed him if he had found it.

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2nd Half

Back to the football then... The 2nd half starts and they continue to dominate. More so than in the 1st half and after much endeavour, they equalise after 70 minutes. Surely our players would up their game but the response was typical of matches this season. Non existent. They kept going like so many teams have done against us this season and I was hoping we'd hold on for extra time but the inevitable goal came. We were losing 2-1 to a team that plays at the same Non League level as my local team - Eastbourne Borough. This was embarrassing and the atmosphere had changed. This was no longer a fun day out to watch football, things were getting sour.

The board came up - 12 minutes of injury time (6 substitutions, 3 injuries and 3 flares have a tendency to delay things) so there was a little hope of us doing something. Not much though, we hadn't had a shot all half. Then as Kidderminster were on the attack down the other end of the pitch, another dick head, within the group of the original dick head throws a flare onto the pitch, much to the disbelief of the fans around us. Whilst they attack, nobody's going to notice, if we hit them on the break, the game will get stopped - which is exactly what happened. 3 on 2, our best (and only) chance of the half stopped because of some stupid kid. If things were looking ugly before, this was very nearly the tipping point. People were furious.

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Post Match

As injury time drew to a close, I was wondering where the police were. The home fans were going to invade the pitch - it was inevitable having won their biggest game of the season and given the people I'd travelled up with, it wasn't going to be just the home fans. The final whistle goes and the pitch invasion happens. From a corner in the away end, it was clear the it wasn't just Kidderminster fans there and those intent on trouble, got exactly what they wanted. As the gobshite kids came to taunt the away end, unaware of the Reading presence on the pitch already, it kicked off. Knowing that most of the dick heads would stay behind to enjoy the lack of police presence, I decided it was time to make my way down to the train station and head home. Not that this was entirely uneventful but probably less so than it would've been to hang around (although the days of opposing fans taking over the opponent's stands are behind us).

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If the West Midlands Constabulary decide (not) to police their 4th Round game against West Ham, I dread to think what will happen. For me though, another fun Away Day and I can't wait for my next one. One thing's for certain though, it'll be a long time before I take the-toddler-gorilla to a match.

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Match Highlights

You can even see me in my "lucky" hat if you look closely...

Source

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Previous Away Day Tales

Episode 1 - Anfield (20th October 2012)
Episode 2 - The Manor Ground (17th March 1998)
Episode 3 - Griffin Park (20th April 2002)
Episode 4 - Upton Park (31st March 2012)
Episode 5 - Old Trafford (16th March 2013)
Episode 6 - Wembley Stadium (18th Apr 2015)
Episode 7 - Deepdale (26th Oct 2002)
Episode 8 - Hillsborough (11th Jan 2003)
Episode 9 - Highfield Road (26th Dec 2002)
Episode 10 - Ashton Gate (30th Mar 2002)

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If you enjoy reading about my Away Days, please let me know in the comments, especially if there's a ground that you'd like me to write about (assuming I've been there).


All photos and videos are my own unless a Source is provided


I'm always interested in reading your views about Fantasy Sports or Sport in general either in the comments or via your own post, remembering to post in World of Xpilar and using the tag #woxsports or #woxfantasysports.
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I can imagine the excitement when people prepare for such match and the w hole spirit of the fans. Unfortunately it is sometimes disappointing when the game did go without many Highs. Nevertheless, it looks quite full, especially the last photo gives an overview of it.

You post is nominated for „Wold of xpilar“ Community Support Program, @booming account upvote. Only the posts that are not cross posted, original and posted from community page are eligible. If your post gets approval, then you get upvote within few days. Good luck!

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Well deserved @the-gorilla, your posts are always worth a read.

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Thank you 👍🏼 I wish I had time to write more - this post took me pretty much an entire morning but I really enjoyed writing it so I always appreciate it when it's read and commented on 🙂

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Thank you 👍

Because it was a big game for them and a small ground, it was sold out so I was quite lucky to get a ticket. It always amazes me though how many idiots intent on causing trouble manage to get tickets too. I knew from the moment that I got on the train that morning that there'd be trouble and I was simply amazed by the total lack of police presence at the match. Sometimes, they keep out of sight to avoid aggravating the situation - if they're not there when fighting breaks out, it simply means they're not there. I'm still struggling to come to terms with this with the number of young children that get taken.

I really like your stories. Congratulations on being able to travel with the team again. Very sad defeat. I follow the results of each match of Reading and I must admit that the team is in a psychological pit. Apparently, most players see themselves in other teams and will try to leave the club in the off-season.

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Thank you - I'm pleased that you've started following us 🙂 We have another match tonight and I wouldn't be surprised if there's a fans protest at some point.

The situation is very unfortunate at the moment - we're clearly not a happy group of players which in itself is a complicated problem to solve. Ever since Nicky Hammond left as our Director of Football, we've been signing players who don't fit in. And then paying them far too much money.

When we were successful, we signed young, hungry players from small clubs - Kevin Doyle, Shane Long, Dave Kitson, etc. They weren't from Premier League academies, they were from the school of hard knocks. Irish football, lower league football - all with some talent and potential but had a bit of grit and a lot of determination.

When I look at the Reading staff, there is a very good squad. I think the coach Paunovic is not good enough.

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We've had a lot of problems with injuries but despite this, we should still be good enough. Good enough to beat a Non League team easily. But something's wrong. On Saturday, we passed sideways, and then backwards. When we did kick it forwards, it was no more than us putting it onto the head of their left back who had loads of space or their lanky centre back who had a very easy afternoon. Apart from the one time where blue smoke was filling the goal mouth.

I liked Paunovic and I heard that he was good at motivating the players and that they enjoyed training. I don't think this is true any more and to see us crumble as soon as we concede a goal every week means that something has to change. Our wage bill is reported to be roughly £35m - more than some Premier League clubs.

But we've already had a transfer embargo and been docked 6 points due to Financial Fair Play. Sacking Paunovic will make this even harder.

I fear for the future of my football club.

I love these posts about the away days, such a cool idea for a post. This one sounds pretty cool going to such an obscure ground for an FA cup tie. I love it when non league teams get a good run in the cup like this, there's something special about that.

Pop quiz, what's the furthest a non league team have gone in the FA cup over the years?

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I have a feeling my last away game was away to Stevenage in the FA Cup in 2018. My lucky cup hat saw us draw 0-0 - the best result its seen (I think).

Pop quiz, what's the furthest a non league team have gone in the FA cup over the years?

Blimey - good question. Sutton United and Hereford have both reached the 4th Round in my lifetime. Chesterfield reached the Semi Finals but I think they were a league team at the time. If I don't get there, I hope you'll give me some obscure clues before telling me the answer!

Has a non-league team reached the 5th Round... They must have done. But I can't think of anybody yet.

So I'll say 4th Round...?

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Further than that and I'll give you a few clues! It was the same year that titanic sank, the team are no longer non league and are in League 2, but were once in the Premier League (94/95 season I think?)

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Ha - that's a lot of clues and it's no surprise that I don't remember it!

I'm assuming based upon that it's Bradford City and knowing that they've won it before, I'm guessing the answer's "winning it" 🙂

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Great guess, but no.... Sorry i gave you a bad steer it was actually 1993/1994 season they were in prem.. I remember it distinctly as i collected premier league stickers and remember the shiny badge of this club.

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No idea... you're going to have to tell me...

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Swindon Town got to the semifinals in 1912 when they were non league. They were pretty unlucky too, they drew 0-0 initially, but lost the replay 1-0...

In recent times, Lincoln City got to the quarter finals in 2017.

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Swindon Town got to the semifinals in 1912 when they were non league. They were pretty unlucky too, they drew 0-0 initially, but lost the replay 1-0...

I hoped it wouldn't be Swindon. We don't like Swindon.

In recent times, Lincoln City got to the quarter finals in 2017.

My mind is drawing a total blank on this. No recollection whatsoever!

Sounds like you enjoyed your day out, even if the atmosphere did turn nasty towards the end of the match!
It’s always nice to see a non league team progress though (especially when it’s not your team they have beaten!) and hopefully they can do it again in the next rounds against West Ham.

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It was nice to be back even though the football was terrible and I was surrounded by idiots. I'm hoping that this isn't what football has returned to since lockdown and fans restrictions have ended - it was very much like the animals had been locked up for too long and were desperate for blood. 🤷🏼‍♂️

I think West Ham will beat them very easily - they really weren't very good. I'm expecting it to be one of the games that the BBC chooses which will be interesting if there's the same crowd trouble as our match saw. To look at the media, it's almost as though I've imagined the entire thing!!

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It is a shame when a few idiots take it too far and ruin the fun for everyone. Hope it doesn’t put you off travelling to away games in the future. There is nothing wrong with having a few drinks before the match but some people don’t seem to be able to handle it and cause trouble if the game doesn’t go the way they want.

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I'm still planning to go to Luton on the last day of the season - it's always inflatables day for our last away game 😃

que interesante