It is fair to say that I was never a sporty child. Week after week throughout my schooling the one almost certainty was that I would manage to persuade my parents to write a note to get me out of PE. I didn’t enjoy it, didn’t want to do it, had no interest in it.

A couple of my school friends, fellow altar servers at All Saints’, were season ticket holders with Reading Football Club. Time and time again I was invited to go along, and every time I said no. I had once or twice been to a Reading match, the Simod Cup Final at Wembley (27th March 1988) where Reading beat Luton 4-1, and a home match with my dad against Northampton, but I had little interest in going again.

At the beginning of the 1993/94 season, however, I started getting a bit interested. After every match I heard about another win and so, in January 1994, I decided to go along to the match against Hartlepool. Reading won 4-0, and I was hooked, not missing another home match that season as we won the title and were promoted to the second tier, Division One.

Even better was to come the following season as Reading beat all the odds to finish second in Division One, only missing out on promotion to the Premier League because of a restructuring of teams in each league. We reached the Play-off Final at Wembley, defeated by Bolton Wanderers despite having been 2-0 up at one point.

When at University I was able to attend many away matches as well, enjoying the feel of community amongst those who travelled across the country supporting their team.

I was involved in the promotions department at the club, selling scratch cards and half-time draw tickets to support the club, and even assisted the department on occasions with ICT issues.

Every year there was a football tournament for local businesses played at the Madejski Stadium, and so I was privileged to represent the Reading FC staff team, making my debut (sort-of) for the club. This was later followed up by playing for the Supporter’s Trust in a replay of the first Reading FC match against Reading School back in 1872.

Replay of first Reading FC match against Reading School

I was regularly attending matches at Elm Park and then the Madejski Stadium from that first match until the end of our first season in the Premier League, when I was due to be ordained and so we moved away from the area down to Cornwall.

Which is how we made the transition in one swoop from the Premier League to the South-West Peninsula League and started following St Blazey AFC. It was a breath of fresh air watching ground roots football after the drama of the Premier League, and we had the opportunity of getting to know the local community as well.

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