W.G. 'Joe' Bailey DSO, MC and two Bars

Reading forward Joe Bailey was among the bravest men to have fought in the First World War, being awarded the Military Cross plus two bars - the equivalent of winning the medal three times - and the Distinguished Service Order, for four conspicuous acts of gallantry. He had joined the Football Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment in 1915 as a lance corporal and ended the conflict as the most highly decorated officer attached to the Suffolk Regiment, having been promoted through the ranks to second lieutenant.

After the war, Joe returned to Elm Park and had the distinction of scoring Reading's first ever Football League goal in August 1920. He was awarded a benefit game against Plymouth that season, ten years after after joining the club, and, whilst sharing a train journey with him, managed to sell a ticket for that match to the Prince of Wales!

He is shown here on a large Pinnace 'Cabinet' card from the early 1920s.

 

 

c1913 Postcard

A fantastic postcard showing supporters at Elm Park, not sure which match but Reading had several high profile cup-ties around this time. When I was a kid a lot of older men wore flat caps and smoked pipes (including my grandfather), and when you see photos like this it starts to make sense. Click on the image and click again to get some amazing detail of this study in humanity. 

 

 

1921-22 Postcard

About 30 years ago I was at an antiques fair (looking for nothing in particular) when I spotted this, and it became the first Reading FC postcard I owned. The photo was taken behind the original stand at Elm Park, with the fence to the left running alongside Norfolk Road. The stand was damaged during a storm in 1925, to be replaced by the one that remained until the ground closed in 1998.

 

 

1965-66 Team photo

A nice trade card I received today, which is the size of a modern postcard. In April 1966, Reading lost a remarkable game at Swansea by five goals to four, but won the return fixture at Elm Park just two days later. More galling for fans was losing all four local derbies against Oxford and Swindon without scoring a goal! 

 

 

1985 Pennant

Reading's proud record of 13 straight wins from the start of a season is secure for another year after Liverpool dropped points for the first time in 2018-19. The Royals began the 1985-86 Division Three campaign in low key fashion with a 1-0 home win over Blackpool, and we had no idea what was to follow. Reading quietly went on a perfect run, but after six out of six wins the media began to take notice. The national papers turned out in force for the away trip to Brentford, where they saw ace striker Trevor Senior net a late winner. The next three games were won to make it ten out of ten, only one short of Spurs' all-time record set 25 years earlier. Amazingly Manchester United had also started perfectly but, as they faltered against Luton in game eleven, it was Reading who equaled Tottenham's feat with a narrow win against Bolton. The record was set with a 2-0 win at Newport, and the following week the run was stretched to thirteen consecutive victories at Lincoln. The winning streak finally ended when Wolves snatched a late equaliser under the lights in front of a raucous Elm Park crowd. Sadly no footage exists as the Football League was in dispute with the TV companies, but 33 years on it remains fresh in the memory. 

 

 

1935 Team Photo

This terrific photo shows the players relaxing on Brighton beach in the week leading up to the F.A. Cup tie with Arsenal at Elm Park. The Biscuit boys were on their way to a second consecutive unbeaten home league season, during a run that totaled an incredible 55 games - something that seems unbelievable today. The great Gunners side proved too strong, however, and Reading lost to a single Cliff Bastin goal in front of over 30,000. The photo appeared in the match programme, which was given to me by a work colleague more than 25 years ago.

 

 

1985 Press Photos

Reading winger Andy Rogers nearly died during an away game at Swansea in February 1986 when he was knocked unconscious after falling heavily on the frozen pitch and swallowed his tongue. Only the prompt action of the Royals physio Glenn Hunter saved his life, and he made a full recovery. Rogers was back in action just two weeks later as part of the team that won the Third Division title that season.

 

 

2007 Photo

Ivar Ingimarsson joined Reading from Wolves in 2003 for £175,000 in what was Steve Coppell's first signing as Royals boss. He went on to make 251 appearances over the next eight years, and was a crucial part of the record breaking Championship winning team in 2005-06. He is shown on this nice signed photo I picked up recently.

 

1974 Newspaper Photo

On what would have been his 66th birthday (27th July), here's the late, great Robin Friday putting in a somewhat robust challenge on the Barnsley keeper in 1974. A childhood hero of mine, I was fortunate to see him play many times at Elm Park and was present to witness 'that' goal against Tranmere in 1976. A movie about his life has long been talked of, but that's all gone a bit quiet. 

 

 

1913 Magazine Photos

For a few years I've been looking out for a certain issue of the Italian magazine 'Lo Sport Illustrato' from May 1913, because it includes these fantastic photos from Reading's tour of Italy, and I was very pleased to finally get hold of it. Two of the matches are featured here, and the results seem almost unbelievable now - a 5-0 thrashing of Milan and a 2-0 victory over the Italian national team! 

 

 

1913 Postcard

This postcard was one of the first items I put on the site ten years ago, and since then I've seen it in books, on countless websites and for sale as a reproduction many times on eBay. Someone had helpfully written the date and opponents, otherwise I'd just describe it as 'pre-1914'.

People didn't tend to smile much for the cameras then, but judging by the observations of a local hack, some of the spectators were a bit a bit fed up anyway. Despite Reading's win, people filing out of the ground were heard muttering things like: "I've never seen such a rotten game in all my life!"  

 

1906-07 Postcards

I was contacted recently on this website by Reading fan Glenn Pluck, who had inherited his grandmother's vintage postcard collection. Among them were the stunning individual portraits shown below featuring goalkeeper Walter Whittaker, full back Archie Lindsay and skipper Herbert Smith. They were published by local photographer William Henry Dee and postally used in September 1906.

I'm always looking for original Reading FC postcards - team groups, individual players and Elm Park action shots or crowd scenes - so please get in touch if you can help! 

 

 

2017-18 Player Photos

The season is finally over - and it's fair to say it's been a tough one. After a poor year, Championship status was least retained after a creditable draw at Cardiff on the final day, and manager Paul Clement has something to build on. Player of the Season Liam Moore shone, Mo Barrow weighed in with some vital goals, and Liam Kelly showed flashes of brilliance.

 


1956 Trade Card 

An unusual variation on the regular News Chronicle design, this card features Brian Kirkup, who was the regular centre forward during the 1955-56 season. He lost his place the following season however, and the 'keen trier' moved to Northampton in 1958. I was very sad to read that Brian passed away in April 2018 at the age of 85.


 

2003-04 Team Photo

Having lost in the Division One play-offs to Wolves the previous season, Royals manger Alan Pardew quit shortly into the new campaign to take charge of West Ham. His decision upset many Reading fans, but there is no doubt he did a fantastic job, which was carried on to great effect by the new boss Steve Coppell. I'm grateful to Royals fan Richard Prior, who gave me a large batch of programmes including several pre-season friendlies. One of these single-sheet issues folds out into this nice poster. 

 

 

2009-10 Newspaper Supplement

I've been trying to fill the gaps in the newspaper pull-outs I've got so have made a few appeals on social media sites. In just the last week or so Royals fans Clive Tipton and Michael Earley have kindly donated a variety of RFC collectables (at least they are to me!) If you have anything spare you no longer want I would happily collect in the Reading area and give you nice mention here! 

 

 

Robin Friday Book

The 1970s is the era of the classic football maverick, and Robin Friday perfectly fits that category. As a lower league player at the time he was not widely known beyond Reading and Cardiff fans, who adored him, but since his early death in 1990 his fame (and infamy) has soared. He is the subject of the best selling book 'The Greatest Footballer You Never Saw', has had numerous articles written about him, and for many years there has even been talk of a Hollywood movie. Reading fan and author Roger Titford explores how someone who never appeared in the top-flight now has a more famous name than most top players of his day.

 

 

Video Slideshow 

A slideshow of the 1913 Italian tour I've put together using old style movie effects, and I think it works quite nicely!

 

 

1913 Newspaper Photos

A wonderful set of photos, published in 'Lettura Sportiva', from our famous win against Italy. Reading were billed as 'one of the top British teams' - maybe not strictly true, but at that time the club had built a well earned reputation as cup fighters. The middle photo I'm pretty sure shows Joe Bailey taking a shot, with Allen Foster to the left. Bottom left is skipper Jack Smith, and these have been added to the Gallery of the club's Italian tour here. My thanks go to Ivano Michetti, who kindly sent me the photos.

 

 

1949-50 Photo

This postcard sized photo features two of Reading's greatest centre forwards - Tony MacPhee and Ronnie Blackman. The latter is our record league scorer (behind just Trevor Senior overall), though Macphee would undoubtebly hold that honour had official football not been suspended due to war. 

 

 

1911-12 Newspaper Photo

Another terrific team photo I found in the pages of the 'Chronicle' from 1932, showing the players and staff (in a marvelous array of hats) from 20 years before that. Interesting to note the misspelt first name of Allen Foster (recorded as Alan), one of those errors that is repeated for years after. 1911-12 was a great season for Reading; having won promotion back to the Southern League First Division, the Biscuit boys were involved in some exciting cup ties which secured the future of a club that had been in dire financial straits. Foster can be seen front centre.

 

 

1981-82 Press Photo 

Three points were awarded for a win rather than two from the beginning of this season in an effort to encourage more attacking football, and the Royals started in fine style by taking 15 points from their first six games, briefly topping the Division Three table. They soon tailed off, however, and finished mid-table, with future England stars Neil Webb and Kerry Dixon topping the scoring charts. 18-year-old local lad Webb went on to star for Man Utd, whilst Dixon was a prolific striker who later joined Chelsea. I recently picked up this superb original press photo, which is a great addition to my team groups collection.