Madejski Stadium and Reading FC logo

Madejski Stadium, Reading

Reading FC vs. Sheffield Wednesday FC
Sky Bet Championship

A saga with more twists and turns than Gareth Bale's finally reached its conclusion just days before the start of the new season. A summer of where I fretted over which team will probably be the least shit to watch week in, week out was whittled down to just one, my beloved Reading. Hello darkness, my old friend.

The Fanstore outside the Madejski Stadium
The store is 'mega' no more, despite kicking all the London Irish stuff into touch.

Quoting 'The Sound of Silence' seems appropriate when describing the Madejski Stadium, since it's become the sound most commonly associated with the venue.

A barren few years with no direction (the inexplicable third placed finish in 2017 where Jaap Stam bored the rest of the Championship into submission not included) have seen crowds dwindle away and edge back to their Premier League clubs of choosing. Reading is an extremely fickle town.

Fan park with street food vendors outside Madejski Stadium
There might be more entertainment to be found outside the ground this year.

Choosing my season ticket proved to be a tougher choice than anticipated. I had always said I'd snap up a season ticket at the Madejski in what seemed like the likely event of relegation last season, I told you we were fickle people. Then the bastards did just enough to stay up (I can't complain about that), and threw my 2019/20 plans into disarray.

Club 1871 in the South Stand at Madejski Stadium
Sorry, when was the club formed?

Non league football is fun, and I gave serious consideration to Bracknell Town (the ticket didn't really work out to be cost effective in the likely event I missed a game or five) or even Slough Town. But Maidenhead and Reading are the two teams I have the most connection to, so it was only ever a two horse race.

And so, after being distinctly underwhelmed by two Maidenhead friendlies, coupled with a misguided belief that Reading might just spring a surprise this year based on zero evidence, the Royals emerged victorious. Plus a three year gap since my last season ticket here seemed like long enough and I was itching to get back.

View of the pitch at Madejski Stadium
The dark cloud of doom returns to haunt the Madejski Stadium.

What I did not factor in, however, was my preparation for the new season being disrupted by a dislocated knee. Armed with two crutches and no friends, I was really regretting booking that season ticket so far up the Eamonn Dolan Stand.

It also meant I was forced to endure the bus to the stadium, rather than parking for free at the World Turned Upside Down pub and pretending to act like a paying customer there. Matchday buses are kind of like a hop-on, hop-off bus you get in tourist hotspots. Only they are slightly cheaper and provide you with an audio guide. And instead of taking in the spectacular architecture of Munich or Bath, I was instead stuck with looking at all the scenery of Lower Earley. But hey, at least I got a seat in the priority section.

Video screen at Madejski Stadium
Nothing says modern like a video screen that's impossible to read from anywhere.

Fortunately, the Madejski Stadium is not like the Sixfields Stadium (I went when I was 13 and there was no legroom even then, and I've grown at least another foot since), Kenilworth Road (watched the game on tiptoes), Loftus Road (rested my chin on my knees), or any other stadium built before 1994 when people attending football matches must have all been midgets, so there is a decent amount of legroom.

View of the West Stand at the Madejski Stadium
View towards the West Stand, my original home.

Even more fortunate, the Madejski Stadium is not like Old Trafford or Anfield where people actually attend the matches, so my antisocial choice to sit as far away from anybody as possible allowed me to a) rest my crutches under numerous seats without bothering people, and b) drape my lame leg over the seat in front. God bless you, Reading.

Useless information about Madejski Stadium

Address: Junction 11 (M4), Reading, Berkshire, RG2 0FL
Capacity: 24,161
Pitch Type: Grass
Ticket Price: £345 for a whole bloody season of this (Eamonn Dolan Stand)
Programme: £3, 68 pages
Cheapest Pint: £4.80

Reading FC Season Ticket

Reading FC 2019/20 season programme