⚽️ “Home” Days: Reading v. Lincoln

in WOX Sports4 months ago

What? This isn’t a development update. What’s going on?? Well, I am testing my updates as I write this. Which has highlighted that I’ve not implemented the navigation on the “Post Creation” page. “To do” list updated (I’m always working) and on to today’s day out - a League One game between Reading and Lincoln.


It’s been a long time since I’ve visited Reading’s ground, the stadium that I’ve visited hundreds of times under the name “The Madejski Stadium”. Today though, I’m visiting the same venue under its new name, “The Select Car Leasing Stadium”.

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I prefer the old name.

The reason for today’s trip was a well deserved victory in a contest run by SkyBet (the sponsors of League One) - winning 2 tickets. Lucky me.


My Journey

It’s no longer as easy as simply stepping out of my front door an hour before kick off and walking. Today, I left the house at 7:50am, just over 7 hours before kick off. I’ve left later travelling to away games!

I’d booked my tickets yesterday and managed to get the price down from £58 to a fairly unreasonable £48. Leaving Eastbourne train station at 9:30am via Clapham Junction and Weybridge to arrive in Reading at 1:15. Plenty of time to get some lunch, walk to the ground (an hour’s stroll) and pick up my prize.

As I got ready this morning, I wanted to double check my departure time and was confronted by this:

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Time to prepare myself for “one of those days”.

So I left the house an hour earlier than planned and got the 8:33 train out of Eastbourne, an hour earlier than planned, knowing that the section from Weybridge to Reading would probably be a problem.

On the train to Clapham Junction, it was time to see what other trains were available…

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Oh. I’d need to reroute but with every automatically generated alternative taking me into Central London (which my ticket wasn’t valid for), I’d have to figure something else out. I bought a ticket to Clapham Junction. That’s no problem. Then Clapham Junction to Reading. That’s a problem. My usual train via my mum’s were all cancelled too. Last resort… via Basingstoke.

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Ok. Some options. But then I’ve got to get from Basingstoke to Reading…

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Good. A plan. Eastbourne to Clapham Junction. Clapham Junction to Basingstoke. Basingstoke to Reading. What a palaver… and as usual, my “Away Days” post has descended into a story more about my travel, than the football. Which probably shouldn’t be a surprise with me spending the best part of 4 hours sat on trains.

I ended up being so early, that the train I got on stopped at a new station near to the ground… and instead of getting off, I went into the town centre to get some lunch and see how much had changed since I permanently moved away roughly 15 years ago.

I also doscovered the reason for the train problems…

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So much was different. The abandoned bus station had been renovated slightly, as had the abandoned shopping centre…

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My old office was empty and available for rent…

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Most of the significant places were still there though, Sweeney’s, the pie shop hadn’t changed, Purple Turtle still looked the same as it did 25 years ago, although perhaps the strangest change was that Smelly Alley was no longer smelly - the fish shop having disappeared to be replaced by an entire street of phone unlocking / repair shops and vaping stores.

Overall, my home town has changed a lot and in my opinion, not for the better.

On my way up to the football, I popped by the very first house I bought… which looked exactly the same but with more bins.

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Then the long walk to the football, collection of tickets and purchase of a Home shirt, Reading Dinosaur and Lion hat. Only 1 item for me, the rest for the boys.

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Then up to my seat, which was good considering it was free (if you ignore the £100 (300 STEEM) I’d spent on the train and in the shop).

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The Big Match

Having gone to so much effort to get there, I expected to be rewarded with a classic attacking performance but instead, I got safe, turgid football and a distinct lack of creativity and quality in front of goal. The 1st half was so bad, that I considered getting the next train home… which sadly, there wasn’t one until my planned departure.

The 2nd half wasn’t much better. Lincoln took the lead around the 71st minute. I’m told it was a cross and tidy finish but I missed it because I was looking up the Premier League scores on my phone.

Until that point, Reading had had the better chances so it was fitting that we equalised in the 85th minute from a corner.

Instead of the turgid opening 85 minutes, the end of the game was quite exciting. But nothing else happened. Not in the ground anyway.


Post-Match Trouble

I decided to head home via the nearest Train Station to the ground. I had plenty of time to pop to the shop and buy something to eat and on the way there, there was a punch up on a roundabout in the middle of nowhere.

Sadly, those involved followed to the only food shop, helped themselves to half a dozen crates of beer from the shop and continued to make a nuisance of themselves until the police turned up. Luckily, we were heading in opposite directions. Especially lucky, because I called the police and advised them of the punch up and that they’d probably be wise to be on their train.

Thinking that would be the end of it, when the police did turn up, they came to me, asked me if I’d called them which essentially identified me as the snitch to the bunch of yobs. I played it cool, told them that I didn’t appreciate being identified and that I’d told them everything on the phone already.

My train eventually turned up, was 2 minutes late and as we pulled into Basingstoke, my connecting train waited a moment and then left without me. No other train for another hour and 5 minutes.

And that’s where I am now and where my story will end. I will hopefully make it home by about 10:30pm although given the day so far, who knows.

Oh, a load of train spotting geeks were interested in this train. So I took a few photos too. I don’t know why.

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Oh great, a load of Oxford United fans have arrived. Our local rivals. Time to hide my colours!

Sort:  

You had a very adventurous day 😮. I hope you still get home in less time.

I'm glad a solution was found to save your home team. And I understand why the stadium now has such a name, but

I prefer the old name.

🤣

We still need the owner to sell before we can look to the future. The rumours are positive that a sale will happen by the end of May but that’s a long time for our owner to demand more money again.

It’s been a long day. I don’t plan to do this again for a while!

Wow, that is quite the odyssey you went on... and not even a nailbiter game.

I do remember strikes and railway schedules quite well from the years I spent in the UK... many years ago. Even went through Reading a few times; my stepbrother was an estate agent in Bracknell. Seems nothing much has changed.

I hope you made it home again, safe and sound!

I didn't realise that you'd lived in the UK (although I forget quite a lot so hopefully you haven't told me before!) Where did you live?

When I was growing up, Bracknell wasn't very nice - it had "The Point" which had a cinema and bowling alley and that was about it. Saturday night was pretty much guaranteed "fight night" in the "town" centre. So we rarely went there.

Nowadays, there's a great, new shopping centre so a lot of people are now travelling to Bracknell instead of going into Reading.

Reading just made me sad. They've spent a load of money on the train station and built these amazing new high rise buildings (presumably flats & office space) but all of the shops are "pound shops", mobile phone repair shops and generally cheap, tacky, bargain stores. The contrast and conflict between the 2 dynamics feels so wrong - the place just doesn't make sense to me any more.

I got home safely, thank you 🙂 The whole day has really put me off travelling to football until something changes in our society and it goes back to the (comparatively) safe environment pre-Covid. I was so "on-edge" for the whole journey home - Fighting Reading "fans", Rowdy (and offensive) Portsmouth fans and then drunk, noisy Arsenal fans. By the time I got home, I was so sick of football fans that I'd like to avoid them for a while long time.

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