News and Views

Misery Or Joy Waits For Royals At Wembley

25 May 2017
By Hob Nob Anyone?

The whole season comes down to one massive game on Monday, when the Royals head to Wembley Stadium for a 3pm kick-off to face Huddersfield Town in the Championship play-off final. It'll be misery for one half of the stadium and huge joy for the other half. The winning side will head off to the Premier League next season, and earn multiple millions of pounds in the process, while the losers will face another season in the Championship. A defeat will be very hard to take after getting within touching distance of the big time. The play-offs are exciting and cruel in equal measures. But surely after five defeats in the play-offs, three of which came in play-off finals, Reading are due that elusive joy at Wembley this time?

One thing is for certain, whoever comes out top between Reading and Huddersfield Town, they will become a surprise addition to the Premier League. Both sides started the season unfancied after failing to impress last season. Both teams rose high in the table but were still written off. After securing play-off positions they found themselves as outsiders with no-one paying much attention to either side until they upset the bookies and made their way into the play-off final. Reading secured a place in the final, thanks to a Kermorgant penalty, with a dramatic 1-0 home win over Fulham in the second leg. Huddersfield needed a penalty shoot out to edge past Sheffield Wednesday.

The winner of this fixture will be immediately installed as favourites for the drop next season - but will get such a big boost in income next season that it will all be worthwhile. It is a massive opportunity which both sides will be desperate to take. It couldn't be any more 50/50, with neither side a clear favourite. It was Reading that finished higher in the table - two places above Huddersfield - and it was also Reading that knocked out overall favourites Fulham. So, it still seems strange that Huddersfield are slight favourites with the bookies as you can currently see on CrownBet's EFL odds.

Both teams have been allocated approaching 40,000 tickets each for Monday's final after going back to the FA to request more tickets. Huddersfield are set to entirely sell out their allocation despite the inflated ticket prices. The Royals appear to still have tickets on sale having failed to shift all their availability so far. After tickets initially went on sale to season ticket holders and members with points only, they have now been released on general sale where anyone can now snap up a pair of tickets. As was said before day one of ticket sales - anyone that wants tickets will be able to get them without difficulties. Reading fans have until tomorrow (Friday) at 3pm to buy through SEE tickets, and the game could yet be a sell out.

It feels like it has been a long time since Reading fans spilled onto the Madjski Stadium pitch to celebrate victory over Fulham. Reading fans will be hoping it has been long enough for Jordan Obita to make a recovery from the injury he picked up in the first leg. The Royals owe at lot to Obita whose amazing performance in the first leg, including the vital goal in the 1-1 draw, set-up Reading nicely for the second leg. There has been some good news with Obita re-starting training today and Jaap Stam confirming that he may be fit for Monday. So Obita remains a maybe. Meanwhile McShane is a definately not as he remains suspended following his straight red card for a high tackle in the match at Craven Cottage. All the players that earned our place at Wembley last Tuesday will be available for selection - and Gareth McCleary will be back to full strength after returning from injury with an appearance off the substitutes bench during that game.

Reading's Previous Play-Off Final Appearances

30 May 2011 Championship Play-Off Final Swansea City (Wembley) L: 2-4 Read report...
27 May 2001 Division Two Play-Off Final Walsall (Millenium Stadium) L: 2-3 Read report...
29 May 1995 Division One Play-Off Final Bolton Wanderers (Wembley) L: 3-4 Read report...


Recent Meetings With Huddersfield Town

21 February 2017 Championship Huddersfield (Away) L: 0-1 Read report...
24 September 2016 Championship Huddersfield (HOME) W: 1-0 Read report...
08 March 2016 Championship Huddersfield (Away) L: 1-3 Read report...
19 January 2016 FA Cup Huddersfield (HOME) W: 5-2 Read report...
09 January 2016 FA Cup Huddersfield (Away) D: 2-2 Read report...
03 November 2015 Championship Huddersfield (HOME) D: 2-2 Read report...
24 February 2015 Championship Huddersfield (Away) L: 0-3 Read report...
03 January 2015 FA Cup Huddersfield (Away) W: 1-0 Read report...
19 August 2014 Championship Huddersfield (HOME) L: 1-2 Read report...
29 March 2014 Championship Huddersfield (HOME) D: 1-1 Read report...
14 December 2013 Championship Huddersfield (Away) W: 1-0 Read report...


Discussion On This Story:


» 20 May 2017 13:19

Well I don’t know how it happened but after two seasons of complete and utter cr@ppy cr@p, from Cr@pton in deepest Cr@ptonshire, an inspired management change that had lots of us slagging the board and slating Jaap before a ball had even been kicked has seen the club rise up to earn a place in the most valuable game in the world.


Jaap Stam on being appointed

After a slow start to the season, with plenty of discontent from the great unwashed at the style of play, Reading crept up the table and kept on creeping until the top six was reached in October. Then, as the pundits would seem to want you to believe, just like that embarrassing bad stain on the carpet - where your curry went when the cat decided to mistime a jump onto that coffee table that you’d been meaning to take up the tip, before West Berkshire decided to pull out of the agreement with the recycling company that the rest of Berkshire uses and you lost the list orange car sticker thing that you need to prove you’re not daring to pull a fast one – the club refused point blank to be removed.


Jaap on discovering he’s lost his recycling pass

The discontent largely faded as the season drew on apart from a few diehards who still have not bought into the dream of a team that plays the ball about patiently before an unforced error presents the opposition with a gilt edged opportunity that Ali Al-Habsi brilliantly denies – well just not at Norwich, Fulham, Newcastle, Brentford etc.

And that’s probably why the pundits steadfastly refuse to believe Reading are any damn good as the team have never been convincing and rarely look comfortable - especially if you take them away from Berkshire – but the point is they still grind out the results and only two teams in the league were more consistent at doing that (and one of those splaffed god knows how many millions to get there).


Jaap on seeing another result being ground out

Then after too short a season Reading got a play off berth against the greatest team the world had ever seen, so the media would have you believe, and again ground out the required results much to the dismay of everyone who had bought into the Fulham lovefest.

One wonders though if we now have some “derby” opponents frothing at the mouth for future games after Reading’s apparent refusal to just roll over and die like they were supposed. How very dare Reading get organised and have the temerity to play to their strengths instead of trying to play like Fulham.


Jaap delighted with the play off victory

And now to the most valuable game in the history of the world…..


Almost £200 million is said to be up for grabs in this one in terms of what the PL can give a team. Imagine that, that’s about 26 Gylfi Sigurdssons (or 2500 Kevin Doyles). So some kind of cool head might well be the order of the day

Huddersfield, like Reading, are also suffering from media neglect. Widely dismissed in favour of the Sheffield “massive” they too have had to suffer the vitriol of having the temerity to not roll over a die and let the “proper” footballers take control of things.

Like Reading they’ve gone largely under the radar after a previous season of utterly forgettable cr@p and probably amazed their fans in the process.

Largely slight favourites to win, probably on account of the pundits hatred of the fact Reading stopped their West London lovefest, Huddersfield are a well organised, well drilled team who also like to try and bore the opposition to death.

And the similarities continue, like Reading they have no out and out stars they are a team who work hard for each other and a team you need to watch carefully as you’re not quite sure where the threat will come from. Kachunga, Mooy and Reading’s scourge Nakhi Wells are the obvious names that spring to mind but they have a more than useful squad with the likes of Lolley, Bunn, Billing and Quaner. Plus, being liberally sprinkled with a few Germans, you’d generally want to keep them well away from any hint of a penalty.

Reading will have no McShane (suspended) and Obita is still a doubt for the game while I believe Huddersfield have a fully fit and available squad to select from. Reading will, however, have the additional options of Jake Cooper and Paolo Hurtado back from successful loan stints with Millwall and Vitoria respectively so there are options for a curveball to be thrown into the mix.


Fresh from duties of refereeing the ordinary stars of the Premier League, Lancashire’s Neil Swarbrick will be trying to keep things in line and, hopefully, showing common sense in the process.

Semaphore specialists for the day will be Jake Collin and Darren Cann

Stuart Attwell will be the 4th official.


Previous games under Mr Swarbrick

31 Oct 15 > Reading 1-1 Brighton & Hove Albion
07 Mar 15 > Bradford City 0-0 Reading (FA Cup)
08 Nov 14 > Reading 0-1 Charlton Athletic
18 Sep 13 > Reading 1-0 Leeds United
04 May 13 > Fulham 2-4 Reading
11 Dec 12 > Sunderland 3-0 Reading
10 Dec 11 > Reading 3-0 West Ham United
05 Mar 11 > Reading 5-2 Middlesbrough
03 Oct 09 > Reading 0-2 Middlesbrough
28 Feb 09 > Reading 0-1 Nottingham Forest

Refereeing his first final, Mr Swarbrick has amassed 1202 bookings and 62 dismissals in his 12 years and 408 games in charge since he first hit the FL.


Games between the two teams this season have been very tight with a 1-0 win for both sides.. Can’t really see Wembley being any different with another game of chess the likely order of the day as Germany meet Holland in the battle for manager of the season

Unsurprisingly this is the first game the sides have played on neutral territory and looking down the years Huddersfield have made 3 losing trips to Wembley in the FA Cup final (the last being in 1938) but did win the last FA Cup final to be played before the final moved to Wembley in 1923.

Their play off record sadly rather makes up for this, they’ve played two previous play off finals at Wembley and won both (as well as winning a third at the Millennium Stadium while Wembley was being rebuilt). The only final they lost was year the third division final was played at Old Trafford.

Reading’s record at Wembley is outstanding – as long as you only count what the rest of the country would class as second class competitions. Aside from that Simod Cup win Reading have visited Wembley 3 times and managed to lose on every occasion and conceded 10 goals in the process (although they have managed 6 goals in reply).

This is not for the faint hearted, Reading’s play off final excursions have a tendency to promise a lot before the arrival of a big kick in the teeth – usually in the last minutes. Swansea was the exception where the club decided to opt for a kick in the teeth to both begin and end with.

Finally, it seems some things never change and the media really do not have Reading on their radar, given the last time SSN broke the news of the club's last playoff failure


PS - Of course, it's also time to resurrect our old friend and hope we're all in the same state when the final whistle goes on 29 May.


 West Stand Man

» 20 May 2017 13:25

Can we assume that reference to Cooper and Hurtado was a tad tongue in cheek?

(Although I do think the latter might well feature next season).

 glass half full

» 20 May 2017 13:57

Thanks, Sutekh. As always, it is entertaining and informative.

Thank you for all your contributions over the season.


» 20 May 2017 16:06

I'm really looking forward to the to day. If we win then great but if we don't I'll be content that the Terriers deserved their chance to be last on MOTD, have all the big decisions go against them, experience the better standard of cheating, and wonder where the points are coming from after months of getting thrashed and getting generally written off by pundits that know nothing about them. That £200m will help console them.

I'll be happy with another year in the Championship and we'll see what our new Chinese overlords do as well as a trip to Burton with time for a decent prematch.

If we win probably the only thing I'll look forward to is a visit to the Stoke, one of the few grounds I've never made it to.


» 20 May 2017 16:23

Nice work Sutekh


» 20 May 2017 17:01

Thanks for all the updates this season sutekh. They have been informative and entertaining.

Even though it is, as you say there, a bank holiday here on the 29th I will be working. By the time I get around to watching it the tears of joy, or sorrow, will have been flowing there for a few hours. Win or lose it has been a fantastic season which exceeded the expectations of the most RTG amongst us and bodes well for the future. I would imagine that karma should be on our side after all of the play-off heartbreaks but as I have found out karma can be a cruel mistress. One thing I am certain of is Stam will have the team prepared to succeed if we execute the plan that he lays out properly...


» 20 May 2017 17:27

I won't be crushed if we don't go up, but I will be if we lose Jaap. Only way to guarantee we don't is to get promoted. For that reason I'm incredibly nervous for this game. I need more Dutch revolution in my life


» 20 May 2017 17:39

Jaap's got another year on his contract and with the new ownership will have the resources to mount a more legitimate and planned promotion compaign. His ownly grievances earlier in the season came from the uncertainty of ownership.

Unless Man U sack Moaninho and give him a call, he's not going anywhere.

 Gunny Fishcake

» 20 May 2017 17:40

Great stuff Sutekh as always....I also find myself in a quandary ....of course I want to win and know what it's like to win a Play Offs final after three heartbreaks.....but I honestly prefer the Championship to the Premiership be able to play in a wonderfully competitive league , to have most games at 3pm on a Saturday, to have a chance of winning every game and to get eight extra games......but of course I want us to win ....I want to see my team play at the highest level and I want to let's hope this is the one , this will be our day .....but if we do's not a bad result !


» 20 May 2017 17:42

As this is the last match thread of the season, I will say thanks Sutekh for the effort you put into these, lest we go back to the times where people would make one without a snappy pun in the title (I know there isn't one in this one!) or when there wasn't a match thread at all.


» 20 May 2017 17:49

Also I think if we didn't go up I would whack a decent sum immediately on us going up automatically next season.

Jaap Stam fully settled. We will go and do the job 100% in an easier league.

Also will be happy for Huddersfield having their chance in the PL if we don't win. They seem a decent club and I'd wish them well


» 20 May 2017 17:50

Winning the league with 107 points would be nice

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