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Reading Awaydaze
Reading Awaydaze
Friday, 26th Nov 2010 14:00 by Tim Whelan

Our game at Reading is on Saturday with a 3pm kick-off, and it looks like we’re heading for yet another capacity crowd. The Leeds ticket allocation has now sold out, and on Wednesday the Royals had only 1,000 home tickets remaining.


The Madejski stadium is on the southern edge of Reading, near the M4. Out of town stadia are supposed to benefit those who drive to matches, but it always seems to me that fans simply get stuck in more traffic due to a higher proportion of the crowd coming by car.

It has been known for tailbacks of up to a mile to build up on the M4 on matchdays, queuing to leave the motorway at junction 11. Don’t be tempted to park in any of the nearby industrial units (unless they offer you the chance to pay for parking) or any streets where a residents only scheme is in force, as there are some very active clamping firms around on matchdays.


According to Reading's official site, the best place for away fans to park is the 'Foster Wheeler' in Shinfield Park, which has 500 spaces. Parking is free, but it involves a short bus ride to and from the stadium, at a cost of £2.50 for adults and £1.20 for children. To get there you need to leave the M4 at J11, then take exit towards B3270 (signposted Earley) and follow yellow signs to "Match Reading FC Park & Ride". The site also says that "Reading police are concerned with vehicle related crime around the Madejski Stadium area on matchdays. You can help reduce the chances of your car being broken into by removing all unnecessary property".


The main railway station is just over three miles away from the Stadium, and you can get a green 'Fastrack' bus, which costs £3 for adults and £1.50 for children, and runs at approx 10 minute intervals starting two hours before kick-off. And make sure you behave on the bus on the way to the stadium, as the service has been known to be withdrawn when fans are a bit naughty, leaving them with a long walk back! There are long-term plans to build a rail link from the town centre to the nearby business centre Green Park, which will come in handy if we are still playing Reading a decade or so from now.


As with most other out of town stadia, you will struggle to find many decent pubs or takeaways anywhere near. You could try the Holiday Inn, which is about a 10 min walk from the stadium on the old Basingstoke Road and is signposted from the second roundabout off the M4. You can also park there for £3 which goes to the Sports Foundation charity. The best bet elsewhere in Reading is the Royal Albion pub on Oxford Road, otherwise you could grab a pint in the town centre and get the bus from the station. Close to the station are the Allied Arms on St. Mary's Butts; The Hobgobin at 2 Broad Street, the Firkin pub and Bar Oz, although this last establishment won't let you in wearing football colours. If you're a fan of Wetherspoons you'll find the Monk's Retreat at 163 Friar Street, by the Town Hall. It would be best to get your food in the town centre as well, and there are a couple of takeaways opposite the railway station. The only eating options near the stadium are several horrible American multinationals in the retail park, Yorkshire's very own overpriced Harry Ramsden's opposite the Holiday Inn, and a few burger vans.


Reading's new Stadium was opened in August 1998 at a cost of more than £50m, and millionaire Chairman John Madejski modestly named it in honour of himself. It has been voted the best ground outside the premiership on several occasions and offers a totally unrestricted view from every seat, with plenty of leg-room as well. It was built on the site of a former household waste dump and I'm told that the metallic posts topped with cylindrical discs surrounding the stadium are methane gas vents, built to prevent an underground build-up of gases! It even has a four-star hotel. The capacity is 24,200 and at the time it opened the club proudly boasted it was the largest sporting arena in the south-east outside London, though it has since lost this distinction to the St.Mary's stadium in Southampton.


The away fans are accommodated in the South Stand, where the larger clubs enjoy an allocation of 4,300, (usually 2,100 tickets go to the away club, but this can be extended. The stewards in the away end have been known to be a bit over-zealous, and have even been known to refuse admission to any fans they think are too drunk. Tickets cost £23 for adults and £17 or £10 for concessions. The official Reading site doesn’t mention any restrictions on who can buy tickets for the ‘home’ stands, so they might find one or two Leeds fans in there on the day.


The club also has planning permission to extend the ground, the east, north and south stands, and have already laid the foundations, though they can't extend the west stand due to the hotel behind it. This would increase the capacity to 38,000, but it’s not clear exactly when they intend to start this project.



Photo: Action Images

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