When it came to Reading, the writing was already on the wall. It wasn’t a Beast from the East that the Royals had to worry about, it was a coach full of footballers from South Yorkshire and a fat lad from Sheffield called Billy Sharp.
I drove The Cube down to the Majestic Stadium, doing around 15.7 MPG in the process. I listened to a podcast about the paradox of political satire on the journey down. You see, I’ve always thought of myself as the archetypal postmodern Yorkshireman. I say LGBTQRSTUV instead of gay. I call a spade a shovel. I eat from a plate but I’m equally prepared to eat from non-plates too (including shovels). I have my Steak rare and my crumpets well-done. I tolerate Sriracha in my mayonnaise and I smash avocado. I’ll watch a film with subtitles. However, arriving at the giant car park, I realised that I would gladly eschew my lifestyle for a cast-iron guarantee that I never have to return to the soulless, postmodern outskirts of Reading ever again.
It’s simply Milton Keynes without the fun. On my left, there was nothing. On my right, there was nothing but an empty Tesla Charging point. I stood in what appeared to be the setting of a post-apocalypse film, but there was no sign of a nuclear winter. Just a real winter. With an unexciting amount of snow.
I was far too early and so, to get out of the cold, I went to get a bite to eat. I stood outside a restaurant called Zest at Lime Square (the pun is the lowest form of wit!) and read the menu. A young waiter popped his head out of the door and told me it was cold outside. Surprisingly, I was already aware of this. Nonetheless, I asked him, “what’s good?” The waiter replied, “Nazi Göring.” I fixed him with a stare that said, I’m not actually in a post-apocalyptic nazi zombie reality, am I? The waiter did not respond.
This wasn’t the place for me. I peeled away, not even prepared to offer a pithy response to his allusion to national socialism. The whole event left a sour taste in my mouth and so I returned to The Cube, ran the engine and ate a Wednesleydale and Carrot Chutney Sandiwch that I’d bought from a mini M&S about a week ago. It was a day out of date and I was a man out of time – almost eight o’clock: to The Majestic.
[EDITORS NOTE: I have since learned that Nasi Goreng is, in fact, an Indonesian dish that consists of stir-fried rice and the waiter in question was most likely not a Nazi. You can never be sure though.]
The Royals fans sang “I’m reading ’til I die,” which, seeing as this the longest blog of the season, you might empathise with.
The bleached arsehole of the world.
DEM 90 MINUTES
Snow covered the pitch at The Majestic in the same way that Reading fans did not cover the stands. Billy Sharp scored the opener; a tap-in at the second attempt, after Clarke had drilled the ball across the face of goal. It was nothing more than we deserved. Reading were about as poor as we were against Ull, in fact, their defending was terrifyingly reminiscent of our own. Late in the half, Mark Duffy picked up the ball (not with his hands) and the Royals defence encouraged him to get closer to goal – resulting in a curling, twenty-five-yard beauty. There might be a lesson in there somewhere for Messrs Knill and Wilder.
Being two goals to the good at the interval, I was confident of victory. Inevitably then, DEM BLADES conceded early on in the second half. A long-range freekick was driven toward the goal and Simon Moore confidently pushed the ball back into the danger area where it was drilled into the roof of the net: 1-2. Shit!
Luckily, Moore was able to redeem himself when a soft-ish-looking spot-kick was awarded. Up stepped Bacuna to strike, but Moore was equal to the penalty and this time he confidently pushed the ball away from danger. Bacuna Matata – it means no worries, and all that…
However, Reading did have to worry and mostly due to their own sheer ineptitude. At 1-2 down, one of the Reading players feigned injury. Another of the Reading players, with the ball rolling towards him, allowed it to run out of play for a United throw. Presumably, he thought that his colleague was going to stay down. But that did not happen. Play continued. DEM BLADES took the throw-in and John Fleck sprayed a perfect ball over-the-top to Billy Sharp who slotted past the keeper on the volley.
The Royal’s complained. DEM BLADES celebrated: 1-3, get in. Had the shoe been on the other foot, I’d probably have complained that I had my shoes on the wrong way around. But I didn’t, I was quite comfortable and extremely relaxed about DEM BLADES getting a third. No way was it anything to do with gamesmanship.
If anything, the Reading centre-half, Van dem Berg, should’ve prevented Billy Sharp from dispatching the volley. However, the defender opted to leave any attempt well below the surface. But lettuce not dwell on the opposition for too long.
DEM BLADES should’ve had 6 or 7, but a win is a win and no titanic performance was required by Wilder’s men – just a willingness and a shit load of energy.
From the City of Culture to the shittiest culture, DEM BLADES have made two away trips to two Adkins-related teams and, luckily, we’ve deserved three points from one of those games. I’m just about over the Ull game, and I’ll take 6th spot at this stage of the season. I’m sure, however, that Chris Wilder will not – and that’s why he’s the manager. Well, that and the coaching badges.
Burton up next, which is a timely reminder of the missing man of the hour…
Man of the Match
On Thursday the first of March it will be World Book Day to which I shall be contributing my own work, ‘1001 reasons why Paul Coutts will always be Man of the Match.’ This game was nothing if not the one-thousand-and-second reason.