I put a spell on you

3 Jan

Wednesday 1st January 2014

Reading               1.1          Nottingham Forest

(Carr)                                    (Halford)

Have you ever stopped to wonder why we always seem to find it difficult to beat Reading? Ever paused to wonder how it is that Oldham Athletic persist in embarrassing us? It’s obvious isn’t it? (Isn’t it?)

If team Y produces a memorable and significant result against team X then team X will enjoy a sustained period of positive results against Y.

Allow me to elucidate: our League Cup final victory against Oldham is the reason for our continuing inability to beat them.  The fact that we attained a trophy for this victory (imagine that younger readers, an actual trophy at Wemberlee too of all places) accounts for the rather surprisingly prolonged period of dominance that Oldham have enjoyed and continue to enjoy over us. As for Reading, who can forget that memorable day on 26th April 1998 when Chris Bart-Williams created some space for himself in the box and fired home to guarantee promotion to the Big League and the title? Since then, bar the odd decent result for us, Reading seem to have their own way against us.

In fact, let’s stretch this out a little further and consider some other memorable and significant victories and the consequences arising. We certainly enjoyed our FA Cup semi-final victory against West Ham United at Villa Park in which we romped to a 4-0 win, aided along the way by Tony Gale’s dismissal. Consequences? Apart from the bizarre late win just after Sir Brian of Clough’s death, I can’t recall too many other decent results against the Hammers. Going further back into the mists of time, the reason why we neverever win at Anfield is down to us unceremoniously dumping Liverpool out of the European Cup at the first hurdle way back in 1978. One could also add to that our rather fortunate victory against them in the 1980 semi-final of the League Cup too. We’ve been paying for those for a while now. I also remember a particularly drab and embarrassing defeat at Kenilworth Road against the mighty Luton Town in the dark days of League 1: that’s for the other League Cup win.

I know there are exceptions and I probably should provide some damning statistics to support my theory but where’s the fun in hypothesising scientifically sound theories? All in all, Reading’s equaliser in the 94th minute and 50th second of injury time should, in retrospect, have been no surprise: I, along with countless others, saw it coming a mile off. The only difference being that while everyone else put it down to the inability to take guilt-edged (are there any other types?) opportunities alongside a tactical switch which meant sitting back and inviting pressure, I knew that the pleasure derived from Bart-Williams’ late winner back in 98 was yet to be paid for in full.

Unfortunately, questions still remain: like you, I can’t remember a memorable and significant victory against Walsall, Yeovil or Blackpool and so have no idea why we cannot record a decent result against them if our very existence depended upon it. As for QPR’s record at the City Ground, well…some things will forever remain a mystery – let’s just hope we avoid them in the play-offs. Them and, well, everyone else given our record in these blasted things.

2013 was emotional. I expect some more emotions in 2014. No doubt there’ll be some more hurtful last minute concessions, some life-affirming last minute winners, some unfair refereeing decisions that go against us (and some that go our way too), some games where we do indeed play like ‘by far the greatest team the world has ever seen’, some dog-eared and dreadful performances which genuinely make you reconsider whether it really is too late to get spotted by a scout while playing in an indoor 5 a side league and inevitably, some behind the scenes shenanigans which make us wonder whether it’s all really worth the time, money and emotional investment.

It is.

That’s football.

That’s why we do it.


2 Responses to “I put a spell on you”

  1. Lee. January 3, 2014 at 8:27 pm #

    How about Forest 3 Yeovil 2 to get us automatic in May 2008?

    • marplesdavid January 3, 2014 at 8:43 pm #

      A fair point. That was particularly sweet for obvious reasons. In the greater scheme of things though, I’m wondering what we did to Yeovil to deserve the play-off reverse and that awful performance at their place this season. (I’m not over either yet).

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