Reading

Madejski Stadium

Capacity: 24,200 (all seated)
Address: Bennett Road, Reading, RG2 0FL
Telephone: 0118 968 1100
Fax: 0118 968 1101
Ticket Office: 0118 968 1313
Pitch Size: 102 x 70 metres
Club Nickname: The Royals
Year Ground Opened: 1998
Shirt Sponsors: Carabao
Kit Manufacturer: Puma
Home Kit: Royal Blue and White
Away Kit: Grey and Red

External View
External View
West Stand
West Stand
East Stand
East Stand
North Stand
North Stand
View From The Away End
View From The Away End

This Club moved to the stadium in 1998, after spending 102 years at their former home of Elm Park. The stadium is of a fair size and is totally enclosed, with all four corners being occupied. Three sides are single tiered, whilst on one side the West (Main) Stand is two tiered, including a row of executive boxes. This stand has a curve in its roof and the team dug outs are located in front. Unlike the West Stand, the others stands have a more conventional look to their roofs, although there is a gap between the roofs and the back of the stands, that contains perspex, to allow more light to reach the pitch. The ground has been designed with the supporter in mind as the fans are housed very close to the pitch and the acoustics are very good. The stadium also has a video screen in the South East corner. The stadium, named after Reading's chairman John Madejski is shared with London Irish Rugby Club.

The Club have received planning permission to increase the capacity of the stadium to 38,000. This would involve further extending three sides of the stadium (the West Stand would remain as it is) and replacing the roof and would take around three years to complete. This would be achieved by first by increasing the size of the East Stand, adding around 7,000 additional seats. The following year the North Stand would be extended adding another 3,500 seats and a year later a similar construction would happen at the South end of the stadium. However, it is unclear when work will commence and it would probably be dependant on the Club gaining promotion to the Premier League.

Away fans are located in one end of the stadium, in the South Stand, where up to 4,300 can be accommodated (although the normal allocation is 2,100). The facilities in this stand are good with plenty of leg room and the views of the pitch are superb, as there is good height between rows. Away fans can really make some noise in this stand, so make the most of it. The atmosphere is also boosted by a drummer in the home section. Entrance to the stadium is by ticket only and if tickets are still available for away supporters then they can purchase them on the day at the South Stand ticket office located between gates 9 & 10. You enter the stadium by inserting your ticket into a ticket reader which scans the bar code on the ticket and illuminates a green light to go in. 

I first visited this stadium shortly after it opened and then a few times in recent seasons. When I first went in 1998 I truly believed that it was a fantastic stadium. Subsequently after going back and with a number of other new stadiums being built during that time, the Madejski seems just like another nice functional ground. Considering that as it also lacks character and that essential 'wow' factor and coupled with the fact that there are few facilities around the stadium such as pubs for away fans, then there is not a lot to 'write home about'. Add to that, that the security staff outside the away entrance seem to be rather over the top which sets the tone of the visit. I have also received reports of fans not being admitted into the away section for being (in the opinion of the stewards) 'too drunk.'

There are no pubs as such near to the stadium. However I did locate a Holiday Inn which was around a 15 minute walk away. The hotel had a small bar inside it, but then attached had a larger Irish themed separate bar area, called Callaghans. This bar had Sky Television, but as you would expect was very crowded with away fans and served drinks at what I can only term as 'hotel prices'. Across the road from the hotel is a very good fish & chip shop. To find this hotel, leave the M4 at Junction 11 and take the A33 towards Reading, turn right at the first roundabout into Imperial Way. Go down this road and you will come to the hotel on your left. You can also park there at a cost of £7 per car. There is also street parking to be found in this area. On my last visit the Holiday Inn was mobbed, so I went in search of another pub. Passing the Holiday Inn on my left I turned left onto Basingstoke Road and walked up over a hill to find a pub on the right called 'The World turned upside down.' This chain pub had a mixture of home and away fans and also was popular for food. From the pub it is around a 15 minute walk to the stadium.

Dave Harris adds; 'If you arrive early, then you could drive to Three Mile Cross where there are a couple of good pubs to be found. Come off the motorway at J11 and head away from the stadium (signposted A33 Basingstoke). After 200 yards take the first exit at the roundabout into Three Mile Cross'.

Alcohol is available inside the stadium, where Courage Bitter &  Fosters Lager (£4.50 per pint) are on offer, plus Guinness and Strongbow Cider (£4.70 per pint). On the concourse, which can get very busy the food outlets offer a range of food including 5" Pizzas (£3.50), Hot Dogs (£3.50), Jumbo Pasty (£3.40), Steak and Loddon Ale Pie (£3.40) and Chicken Curry Pies (£3.40). The pies are produced by Peter's Pies and the ale is supplied by the local Loddon Brewery.

Next to the ground on a Retail Park are the following food outlets; McDonalds, KFC & Pizza Hut. Otherwise it may be an idea, especially if you are making the journey by train, to drink in the centre of Reading before the game. Dave McKerchar adds; 'The Three Guineas on the station approach has been designated as an away fans pub. It offers a range of eight real ales and is listed in the CAMRA good beer guide. It has a big screen Sky TV and it also does food'. Will Butler a visiting Norwich City fan tells me; 'We were warmly welcomed at the Three Guineas Pub next to the train station. It has Sky Sports, and serves decent grub. The only thing they ask when you enter the pub is that you take your hat off!'

If you are travelling along the M4 from the west you can see the stadium on your left. Leave the M4 at Junction 11, bear left on to the A33 relief road which leads you directly to the stadium. The Madejski Complex is well signposted from Junction 11.

Kevin Gray informs me; 'Please note that as a recent visitor to Reading it is worth advising away fans that getting off the M4 at Junction 11, westbound can be a bit of a pain. On match days a long tail back can start on the motorway as far as one mile away from this junction. This should be approached with caution and patience. As kick off approaches it can take 40 minutes to complete the journey from the back of the Junction 11 queue to the designated parking sites. So allow extra time for your journey'.

Car Parking

There is some limited parking available at the stadium itself for a cost of £10, but it can be a bit of lengthy process to get out of the car park at the end of the game. Richard Buckingham adds; 'You can also park on the site of the now demolished greyhound track, close to the stadium,. From the M4 at Junction 11 take the A33 towards Reading town centre. Follow the dual carriageway past the stadium and McDonalds, KFC and Pizza Hut outlets, then look for the 'Alternative Parking' signs ahead. On the left you will reach a small slip road into the parking site (which incidentally is an official stadium car park). It has 500 spaces and costs £8 to park there. It is stewarded and has the advantage of a quick post-match exit either back to J11 or towards Reading. The car park is a 5-10 minute walk away from the ground.'

There are also a number of unofficial car parks in the area sited at local businesses. One of the easiest to locate is Worton Grange, which has 1,000 spaces again at a cost of £8 a car. This large office block is not far off the M4. After you come off the motorway at Junction 11, head towards the stadium and Reading on the A33, turn right at the first roundabout into Imperial Way and it is just on the right. It is then about a 10 minute walk to the ground. Bon Hale a visiting Sheffield United fan informs me; 'We parked in at a warehouse car park located on Acre Road at a cost of £5. Passing the Madejski on your left, follow the A33 for about half a mile, then turn back on yourself, passing Bennet Road on your left, and then take the next left into Acre Road. You will see sign "match parking", where there is a large warehouse on the left. It is gated with security. It is then only a short walk to the ground from here. We also spotted another matchday car park in Bennet Road but this cost £10.' 

Mark Sugar informs me; 'Don't park in the nearby Business Park, unless there is an individual unit charging for matchday parking. You may find yourself with a parking ticket if you do, or even clamped'. 

Alternatively the Club operate a 'Park & Ride' scheme at Foster Wheeler at Shinfield Park. Parking is free but the costs for the return shuttle bus are; Adults £4, Children £2.50. From Junction 11 of the M4, take the B3270 towards Earley and then follow the signs to 'Football Car Park C'. The car park opens at 1pm for Saturday afternoon games with the first bus departing at 1:30pm. Supporters should not attempt to park in the residential estate next to Foster Wheeler. As there is a residents only parking scheme is in place as well as an active clamping company in operation.

Post Code for SAT NAV: RG2 0FL

Reading railway station is situated just over three miles away from the Madejski Stadium. Probably the easiest way to get to the ground is to catch the F1 'Football Special' bus, which leaves just down from the Railway Station on Station Hill (as you exit the station from the main entrance turn right). The bus service starts at 1pm for Saturday afternoon games. Dave Stuttard a visiting Leicester City fan informs me; 'I would recommend getting in the bus queue no later than 45 minutes before kick off as all football traffic goes down the same dual carriageway to the stadium'. The fare is £5 return for adults and £3 for children and normally takes about fifteen minutes to get to the ground. Please also have the correct fare in hand as the drivers do not give out change.

Paul Willems a visiting Bristol City supporter adds; 'the bus from the station is good provided that away fans do not cause any trouble. If you do then the buses (quite rightly, editor) refuse to pick you up after the game. I have a bitter experience of this, when the slowest police escort in history by Thames Valley Police got me back to the station at 7.30 pm!' 

Nicholas Small provides the following walking directions from the railway station to the ground:'I would estimate that the ground is about three miles away from Reading Station, and that unless you walk quite quickly, the journey could take over an hour: Leaving the station, head straight up the road in front of you, crossing over Friar Street onto Queen Victoria Street and heading towards the town centre. Upon reaching Broad Street, you will find yourself opposite the John Lewis store. Cross and head down a narrow passageway (Chain Street) which runs down the right hand side of John Lewis. Soon, you reach a churchyard, which you can cross, bearing right, to the corner of Gun Street and Bridge Street. Cross to the other side of Bridge Street and continue down, turning right into Fobney Street. At the end here, you will soon encounter a couple of blue footpath/cyclepath signs, which point the way to the Madejski Stadium. These will lead you down the left hand footpath alongside the busy A329, which becomes the A33 after about 1200 yards. Keep following this road and eventually you will come to a roundabout. Take the road ahead and continue walking along the roadside. You will briefly walk along a dirt track by the roadside as the A33 crosses a waterway, before walking down the bank to the towpath. The towpath now continues straight ahead towards the stadium, still following the blue cycle path signs. You can't miss it from here, but it is still at least a further 15 minutes walk away'.

Remember if travelling by train then you can save on the cost of fares by booking in advance.

Visit the the trainline website to see how much you can normally save.

Click on the trainline logo below:

West Stand (Upper):*
Adults £33 Over 65's £23 Under 25's £18, Under 18's £15

All other areas of the stadium (including away fans):*
Adults £28 Over 65's £18 Under 25's £13, Under 18's £10

* Home fans who become club members can get up to a £3 discount on the price of a home ticket.

Reading FC fixture list (takes you to the BBC Sports Website).

Official Matchday programme £3.

Swindon Town, Oxford United and a bit further afield Aldershot Town.

For details of disabled facilities and club contact at the ground please visit the relevant page on the  Level Playing Field website.

Record Attendance

At The Madejski Stadium: 24,184 v Everton Premier League, November 17th, 2012.

At Elm Park: 33,042 v Brentford, FA Cup 5th Round, February 19th, 1927.

Average Attendance
2014-2015 17,022 (Championship League)
2013-2014: 19,171 (Championship League)
2012-2013: 23,862 (Premier League)

If you require hotel accommodation in the area then first try a hotel booking service provided by Late Rooms. They offer all types of accommodation to suit all tastes and pockets from; Budget Hotels, Traditional Bed & Breakfast establishments to Five Star Hotels and Serviced Apartments. Plus their booking system is straightforward and easy to use. Yes this site will earn a small commission if you book through them, but it will go to help with the running costs of keeping the Guide going. The Hotels listing also includes details of how far away the accommodation is located from the football ground. 

Access their Reading Hotels and Guest Houses page.

Remember that you can use the above link or panel below to book any other hotels that you may need for business or leisure, either in the UK or abroad.

Reading v Swansea City
Pre-Season Friendly
Saturday, August 2nd, 2014, 3pm
James Spring (Neutral)

1. Why you were looking forward to visiting the ground?

The Madejski Stadium is a ground I’ve been looking to tick off for a while and when a fellow ground hopper I know mentioned going to this game I was immediately interested. When I realised I’d only pay £7 for a ticket it seemed like too good a chance to turn down – it was either this or Weymouth v Gloucester City in another friendly, so off we went.

2. How easy was your journey?

Journey was fairly straightforward. Got a train from Weymouth at about 09:30am and my mate joined at New Milton. We changed trains at Southampton Central and arrived at Reading station just after noon. 

We knew the ground was not within walking distance of the railway station, but I had read on this site about the football special bus service to the stadium. So the plan was to hop on a bus, which was fairly easy as they stopped on the road right outside the train station. There were even a few people walking around in high visibility Reading FC jackets in the town centre directing Swansea fans which was good. 

3. What you did before the game?

We had a short walk around Reading town centre and grabbed something to eat, before heading off to the ground at about 1.30pm. The few supporters we came across seemed friendly enough. The bus you want is the number 50, and they came along fairly regularly. Return ticket was about £4, and the journey took about 15 minutes. When we got to the ground we had a look around the club shop and took a few photos of the outside of the ground before heading for the turnstiles.

4. What you thought on seeing the ground, first impressions of away end and other sides of the ground?

The ground is pretty much exactly what I expected. Your typical 21st century souless concrete bowl with a cringey PA announcer (although the pre-match playlist was good!).  

Entry to the ground is gained by scanning your ticket through the electronic turnstile, so you can’t pay on the gate. The concourses are quite wide and at half time the queues weren’t big, but mind you – neither was the crowd as a whole. Only the East stand and the lower tier of the main stand were open to Reading fans. 

We were sat almost on the halfway line in the East Stand and the view of the pitch is perfect, you can’t miss anything really. To be honest, there’s not much more to say, the rest of the ground is basically identical with the exception of the West Stand being two tired, but of a similar height. The only thing that’s slightly different about the ground is the fact it has its own wind turbine! 

5. Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, food, toilets stewards etc...

The game itself was pretty good. Reading started strongly but Swansea were awarded a 14th minute penalty which Wilfred Bony smashed against the post. But two goals in as many minutes from Wayne Routledge on the half hour mark,  left Swansea in control, but Reading pulled one back just before half time when Nick Blackman hit a stunning effort into the top corner from 30 yards. So 2-1 at half time. 

The visitors however ran the second half, and Bafetimbi Gomis was sent clean through to score a 3rd on 60minutes. They could have made it  4 or 5 by the end.

As far as the atmosphere was concerned, the Swansea fans made some noise and the Reading fans were pretty quiet. When they did find their voices, it was only to sing your usual anti Wales songs. It did get a bit silly towards the end of the game however when a group of Reading fans decided to walk towards the away end to give it the big’un. One man was then carried out of the stadium by stewards when he literally tried to walk across the corner of the pitch to get at the Swansea fans. Quite idiotic really. Thankfully we didn’t find any trouble outside the ground or on the buses back into town.

The food, was poor. I fancied a burger, and there were some burger vans outside the ground, but I didn’t fancy paying £3.90 so thought I’d get one in the ground.  Incredibly, you can buy a 5 inch pizza inside the stadium but not a burger! I thought I’d sample a hot dog, which was a mistake. £3.70, and it was the sort of hot dog that makes you feel sick after one bite, disgusting. So bland I wouldn’t feed it to my dog! Also £2 for a coke! Rip off. Or maybe I’ve gotten too used to non-league football?

Toilets were fine – again no queues, and the stewards seemed nice enough. Didn’t even notice them until it got a bit feisty at the end really. No problems at all, even though I was wearing a Notts County shirt. 

6. Comment on getting away from the ground after the game

There was a whole line of buses back into Reading Town centre waiting outside the ground after the game, and they were also well organised. They had a couple of stewards there directing those with tickets and those who needed to buy a ticket into separate queues, so those of us with tickets didn’t need to wait. Home and away fans mixed with no problems and we were back in town within 10 minutes. I’d imagine it might take a bit longer after league games with a much bigger crowd.

7. Summary of overall thoughts of day out:

Despite not being too impressed by the ground it was still a good day out and a decent game of football for a friendly. Also another ground ticked off. Wouldn’t go out of my way to go back, but if Notts played there I wouldn’t hesitate. Simple away trip.

Reading v Sheffield United
FA Cup 4th Round
Saturday, January 26th, 2013, 3pm
James Prentice (Doing The 92)

1.Why you were looking forward to going to the ground (or not as the case may be): 

Originally, two friends and I had planned to go to see Brighton v Blackburn’s Championship clash, but after both sides progressed to the fourth round of the FA Cup the fixture was switched. Unable to get tickets for Brighton’s game with Arsenal, we still made the trip down to London (might as well make use of cheap, non-refundable rail tickets!). Rather than go to one of the few remaining capital grounds left to do, it was decided to go to a slightly more tricky venue to reach and the final vote went to Reading for their FA Cup 4th round tie with Sheffield United. I had heard nice things about the ground and Reading’s fans being a fairly pleasant bunch (albeit mainly from a Royals fan I work with), so we plumped for an afternoon our in Berkshire. 

2. How easy was your journey/finding the ground/car parking? 

We left our home town of Lincoln nice and early and, after a slight delay, arrived into King’s Cross at around 10.00am. From there we nipped over to Paddington and caught a train to Reading, the second leg of the outbound journey taking around 25 minutes. After a couple of lunchtime pints in the Monks’ Retreat (Wetherspoon’s pub), we headed back past the railway station to catch one of the football special buses from the nearby bus station in Garrard Street (which, by the way, is signposted upon exiting the railway station). The journey to the Mad Stad took around 15 minutes and we were dropped right outside upon arrival.

3. What you did before the game pub/chippy.... home fans friendly? 

The big dilemma with Reading is what to do before the game. They really could do with a couple of pubs outside the ground so that fans are able to have a drink before the game, as there is literally nothing to do in the surrounding area (unless you fancy a look round the nearby B & Q). That said, I did notice a screen outside the stadium showing the lunchtime clash between Stoke and Man City, but apart from a few burger vans there is nothing between the Mad Stad and the M4 motorway. 

We got to the ground early rather than stay and have a couple more pints so we got a place on one of the buses (I had heard that leaving it late may mean you miss out and face a 3.5 mile hike to the ground). After collecting our tickets, eventually decided to get in early and had a drink on the concourse and watched the remainder of the early kick off. The Reading fans certainly seemed quite a pleasant bunch – certainly what you’d expect from a refined county like Berkshire!

4. What you thought on seeing the ground, first impressions of away end then other sides of the ground?

The ground was built in 1998 and I remember fans that went there within its first few years raved about how futuristic it was. While plenty of ‘soulless bowls’ have sprung up around the country since then, the Mad Stad still looks pretty impressive and seems a little more authentic than some others. I was sat in the only two-tiered part of the stadium and had a seat right next to the Directors’ Box. The views across the pitch were excellent. The other sides are all symmetrical of one another and the relatively steep incline seems to offer decent views of the action. The ground is totally enclosed, which helped create an atmosphere even though it was only half full.

5. Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, stewards, pies, facilities etc... 

The concourses were your usual breeze block affair and to be honest I had been hoping for a bit more considering the stadium was supposed to have been built with no expense spared. The food on offer was fairly standard and beer is available, although I believe they do not sell alcoholic drinks to away fans. Home fans are rarely bothered by stewards and the same was to be said for the Mad Stad, although whether that was the case for the away fans is questionable given that a few Sheff Utd fans got quite ‘rowdy’ throughout the game. 

As for the match, Reading effectively killed the contest early on by going ahead through Noel Hunt. The Blades, to their credit, came back but had left their shooting boots at home, spurning a few decent opportunities. Reading doubled their lead just before half time with a really decent second, and outclassed the opponents with a third and fourth after the break. It was a pretty routine victory for the Royals and it was hard to believe that only two years ago both sides were run-of-the-mill Championship, such is the gulf that now exists between them. Even though the Reading fans appeared at first glance to be quite ‘safe’ (the club is, after all, sponsored by Waitrose), they certainly bit back at the visiting fans with some great chants...although I will refrain from repeating them on a family-friendly football ground website such as this!

6. Comment on getting away from the ground after the game: 

After the game we headed for the shuttle bus and there were six or seven of them waiting to take fans back into town – a very well-drilled operation that ran like clockwork. There were lots of fans queuing up for the buses but stewards were on hand to shepherd people in quickly and efficiently. Before we knew it we were on a train bound for Paddington and, after something to eat and a couple of post-match pints, we headed for King’s Cross and made it back to Lincoln for about 10.40pm. 

7. Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:

I liked the Mad Stad and the fact that Reading played well, the ground is nicely designed and the ticket was only £15 (bargain) made up for the fact that it is some way away from the town centre and is plonked right in the middle of nowhere. I am not a fan of out-of-town grounds and long for the days where stadia are only ten minutes’ walk from the station and are surrounded by pubs and chippies, but the Mad Stad had just enough about it to win my approval. 

The trip meant I became a step closer to holy grail of the visiting all of the 92, which I really hope to have completed in a couple of seasons’ time. It was a long day out and it’d have been much easier to go to one of my remaining London grounds, but I was and am glad to have gone the extra mile and ticked Reading off the list...I can save some of the easier grounds for later.

Reading v Fulham
Premier League 
Saturday October 27th 2012, 3pm
Tom Fry (Fulham Fan)

1. Why you were looking forward to going to the ground?

I personally had never set foot in Reading, so was looking forward to going for the first time. Fulham had also sold out their allocation in pretty quick time, so it was bound to be a good day out, full of atmosphere and hopefully three points.

2. How easy was your journey/finding the ground/car parking?

Jumped on the train from Gatwick to Reading station which took just over an hour. Very easy direct journey and no messing about with changing trains.

3. What you did before the game pub/chippy.... home fans friendly?

As you come out of Reading station, a pub called The Three Guinea’s is instantly on the right where most of our away following had set up camp. All were in good spirits as the drink flowed, staff at the pub are very easy going. Some Reading fans did take offence to our chanting outside though and one or two came over to have a word, but nothing major kicked off.

We then jumped on the buses from the station to the ground, which are specially laid on for match days. Very good service in my opinion, although make sure you have the correct change as we found out the hard way first time around! Cost is £4 adults and £2 children for a return journey. Fans of both sides happily mingled together and chatted away about how there season was going, favourite away trips and just general chat.  

This journey normally takes around 10 minutes, however give yourself enough time to get from the buses to the away end, as where the buses stop is basically on a roundabout outside the ground which is still a fair walk to the South Stand.

4. What you thought on seeing the ground, first impressions of away end then other sides of the ground?

Mad Stad is like most of these modern stadiums now; big bowl look to it with all the mod-cons and a hotel outside of it. The away end itself has a big concourse with all the usual food and drink available, and a nice touch by the staff behind the kiosks who were all wearing Fulham shirts to make us feel welcome. 

The away end itself has good views all around. We were in row A and even from there it was pretty easy to tell on the pitch where the players and the ball were. Good leg room between the rows of seats as well, however do note that you will get wet if you’re sitting in the front 10 or so rows if it’s raining, as we got absolutely drenched!

5. Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, stewards, pies, facilities etc..

Wow! A 3-3 thriller which consisted of Fulham staging a second-half showing which Brian McDermott described as a ‘Harlem Globetrotters’  like performance. We also managed to throw away another lead, this time twice in the final 10 minutes! The fact that Berbatov celebrated his goal right in front of me made it a quality day though. Even managed to get myself a cheeky cameo appearance on Match of the Day whilst going mental celebrating that goal!

Atmosphere itself was good from the away fans, with constant digs at old player Pavel Pogrebnyak, the hilarious chant of ‘we’ve got Bairdinho’ and the usual QPR bashing. A bloke in a horse outfit also turned up, to the amusement of the stewards! However I expected better from the home fans. Fair play to support to the right hand side of the away end who stood and sang all game with the banter flowing freely, but apart from that, an annoying drum on the opposite side of the ground and a few clappers, it was all very quiet from the Reading fans. I really, really dislike music being played after a goal too, especially that tune that usually accompanies the darts!

Stewards were very laid back, if not a bit too laid back to be honest. No moans about standing, and even when it started raining and we moved towards the back in the disabled gangway to shelter, nothing was really said until the rain stopped.

6. Comment on getting away from the ground after the game:

Getting away from the ground is as easy as getting there. Queue for the buses and straight back into the centre of Reading and the station’s right in front of you. I really would recommend this service to anyone going rather than driving there, as apparently the area around the motorway backs up for miles before and after games.

7. Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:

Another quality day out. The game itself was an absolute corker, I took a neutral fan with me and he had a great time! The away fans were in good voice, and getting in the celebrations of Berbatov’s goal just topped the day off brilliantly. Just a shame we couldn’t hold on and get three points on the road!

Reading v Watford
Championship League
Saturday September 10th 2011, 3pm
Patrick McNicholas (Watford Fan)

1. Why you were looking forward to going to the ground (or not as the case may be):

We have had a  good set of results against Reading in previous seasons. From our 2-0 Premiership win in 2006, to our relegation survival 3-0 win in the 2009-2010 season. Upon hearing of a large away following for the game, I decided to go with some friends. I had been the previous season, and enjoyed the occasion. We were also hunting our first win of the season which and with Reading losing their last four, I felt that we could achieve this at the Madejski.  

2. How easy was your journey/finding the ground/car parking?

Last season I went by train. My hometown to St Pancras, then onto Waterloo, and finally to Reading station. There is a shuttle service to the stadium from the train station at (if I remember correctly) £3 (or less!). All in all a straight forward journey, done in about two hours or so. 

But this time I opted for the supporters coach. We left Vicarage Road, headed through Watford, then quickly onto the M25. After about 35-40 minutes on the M25, we were in Reading. Despite the usual matchday traffic, we were parked up within about an hour or so of leaving Vicarage Road.

3. What you did before the game pub/chippy.... home fans friendly?

The coach dropped us off outside the away end and we made our way directly into the ground, almost completely avoiding any contact with the Reading fans. (Though, if the previous season's experience was anything to go by, where we mingled with Reading fans since leaving the station, they're a friendly bunch!). We picked up a bite to eat in the reasonably priced refreshments area, then made the climb to the top of the away end to experience the build up to the game. 

4. What you thought on seeing the ground, first impressions of away end then other sides of the ground?

The stadium is one of the many modern day 'oval' styled stadiums, one which I have become accustomed to, so I didn't think much of it. The away end is primarily situated behind but to the left of the goal, with a good view from most seats in the area. I've only experienced a view from the back of the away end, but I enjoyed the view throughout the whole match.

5. Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, stewards, pies, facilities etc..

After taking the lead through Mark Yeates' superbly taken free kick, the away fans really came into life, which provided a good away atmosphere compared to the relatively quiet home fans (albeit the drum on the other side of the ground, and a small section of singing fans to our right). With John Eustace adding a second in the second half, and the continuation of the good away support from the 1,600 or so travelling Hornets, the game ended with a thunderous cheer for our first win of the season. Many fans stayed at the end to applaude the team, and even watch some players warming down. The stewards were fine with this. However, this was the first time I was happy with them, as Reading stewards on more than one occasion made a huge fuss about us sitting down during the game. The facilities were good at the newish stadium, plenty of room in the concourse, and yes, the food was good!

6. Comment on getting away from the ground after the game:

Last year was relatively straight forward, with us getting the shuttle service back to Reading train station, which, despite the usual queuing for the bus and traffic leaving the area, was as straight forward as any shuttle service can be. 

This season, again, was straight forward. We hopped back onto the supporters coach, and slowly but surely made our way through the 20,000 strong matchday traffic. We were back in Watford in about an hour.
  
7. Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:

Reading will remain to be one of my favourite away days, due to its ease in travel, fairly cheap ticket prices, and generally kind and un-intimidating style of the home fans.

Reading v Watford 
Championship League
Saturday September 10th 2011, 3pm
Matthew Batchelor (Watford fan)

As I'm only 12 years old I have not visited many away games. As a big Watford Supporter I chose to go to an away match for my birthday, and Reading seemed the perfect trip.  I was also looking forward to visiting the Madjeski after reading lots of good reports on the stadium. 
 
As my family and I live near Brighton on the South Coast, me and my Dad packed into our Citroen car at around 10am and made the two hour trip to Reading. We had no hold ups on the M25 or the M4 and got to Reading at around 12 noon. We tried to find some parking on the streets, however as the ground is located next to some Industrial parks and there is a strict two hour parking curfew we found this very hard. We spent nearly 10 minutes doing this and after a while we took this websites advice and parked at the Acre Road warehouse car park for a cost of £7. 

We then visited the convenient KFC and got something to eat while both sets of fans mingled and chatted. After about an one hour we made the short walk to the ground and made the customary walk right around the stadium.
 
As we had previously paid for our tickets online and had recieved them in the post a couple of days before, we got into the stadium painlessly and made the massive hike to the top of the stand.  As you come out of the concourse the stadium looks pretty impressive although a little bland as nearly all the stands were the same apart from the West Stand which has a row of excutive boxes which run the length of it. The legroom was very impressive and spacious. The acoustics were excellent and as the Reading faithful were located just to our right there was quite a bit of banter. The concourse was nothing special but did its job.
 
The game was nothing special, however Watford came away with 3 deserved points. The game started well for Watford and we scored with only 12 minutes on the clock from an excellent free-kick dispatched by Mark Yeates, which sent the 1,338 Watford fans wild with delight. 

At half time we went to the food counter and both purchased a reasonably priced hot chocolate before making the trip back to our seats. The only downside to the away section, is at the back there is a small gap between the roof and the back wall. And as it was raining and we seated at the back of this stand, we got soaked!

The second half kicked off with Reading puting pressure on Watford, however during that period John Eustace came out of nowhere and placed the ball in the top of the corner from a low cross. This sent the Watford faithful into full song and completely drowned the Reading crowd. 
 
After the final whistle me and my Dad applauded the players and our manager before joining the long line of spectators trying to get out of the stadium. 5 minutes later we were walking through the crowds to get back to our car. There seemed to be no trouble between the Reading and Watford fans. There was a big traffic jam going towards the M4 but that quickly passed and before we knew it we were back on the motorway. From there it was quick journey back to the South Coast. 
 
Overall a good day out and very good result for the Golden Boys. 

Updated 28th July 2015

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