Monday, April 04, 2011


We're approaching a decade since the finest moment ever at the Madejski. Forget the Derby Championship-cakewalk, forgot the battle-back against Boro - Nicky Forster's cameo against Wigan in the play-off semi-final second leg on 16th May 2001 was almost certainly the most-hairaising moment in the history of the stadium.

That dramatic night Fozzie wrote himself into Reading folklore, forever to be remembered as a true Reading hero. Nicky Forster was a pleasure to watch. Like shit off a stick in a tsunami, the guy was quick. Coupled with an ability to finish chances from long and short range defying all manner of impossible angles, Forster also had mesmeric close control and was a menace to defences in his six thrilling seasons at the Madj.

He's getting on a bit now, mind. And that blinding speed now needs to be transfered into speed of thought; he is in coaching now you see, at one of his former clubs Brentford. Brentford FC are of course an Aladdin's Cave for RFC, a footballing car boot sale of a club with whom we have shared many players and coaches in recent years; Coppell, Downes, Ingimarsson, Sidwell, Owusu and many more besides. In 2002, a Brentford team boasting all those named RFC will-be-legends lost out on promotion to Pardew's wobblers on the final day of the season. We subsequently pinched their manager, coach, their best players and got promoted to the top flight whilst the Bees bellyflopped into division 4. Cheers, we toast you with a pint of Fullers!

It's hard not to have a soft-spot for our neighbours from down the M4. Notwithstanding the Forster link and a whole host of intermingling Royal family tree second-cousins-once-removed, they are also big game losers like ourselves. Two play off final defeats, like ourselves. They had also lost twice in the Associate Members Cup final prior to yesterday's third appearance in the final, vs Carlisle. With my own family links to the Bees, I couldn't resist jumping on the Bandwagon and joining in the buzz down Wembley way.

40,000 supporters gathered for this final. Which other country in the world could attract that many fans to a third division football match? This probably best explains why England deserves to host a World Cup again, were it not for the fallible old fools at the FA - themselves led by a big-mouthed politician who couldn’t keep his penis in his pants together with a goofy entourage if ‘dignitaries’ incorporating Brain-box Beckham and Prince Nice-but-Dim putting the kibosh on our chances. There was a tremendously bubbly atmosphere outside the ground as supporters from two unfashionable clubs posed for pictures, bedecked in those god-awful jesters hats and the make-up choice of the retarded: face-paint. One wonders how fans of the big clubs who tend to get through to the more famous big finals this ground has held over the years feel on their big days out? A shrug, presumably, as they stroll up from Wembley Park station. They almost certainly don’t bring a camera.

Big game, bad football match. There is a reason why Brentford and Carlisle don’t play on the big stage very often – they’re no bloody good. Carlisle at least strung a few passes together first half and led through Murphy’s prod into the net after he was inexplicably allowed two touches in the box from a corner. Brentford were all scruffy long ball, which was a great disappointment that such a great footballer in Forster would preach such ineffective percentage-football pap. From our seats high above the corner flag in Club Wembley (drinks aren’t free) for the princely-sum of £44 we watched a somewhat more eventful second half as Brentford’s Schlupp wriggled free of the colossal thug Michalik to inexplicably thunk an effort onto the near post and a couple of set-piece sitters were headed high and not-very handsomely over.

Towards the end Brentford’s angular clumsy midfielder Diagouraga – who played like a blindfolded Kalifa Cisse – came crashing through at the end of two poor passes inside the space of two minutes and was dismissed. It was the end for Brentford who now boast an impressive 5 defeats from major finals. This was nothing new for Forster himself – his heroics against Wigan, after all, were to be followed by woe against Walsall.


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