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Madejski Stadium, Reading
v Rotherham United, Division One 
Saturday 22nd February 2003, 3pm
By Neil Uttley

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

Another one of the new breeds of ground and one that I had never been to before.  Plus Rotherham never win at Reading, so being an old romantic I had a good feeling about today and decided to go hopefully to see a rare Rotherham win at Reading.

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

The Journey was a long one from South Yorkshire, out of bed at 7.30am! for the coach at 9am perhaps a little bit to early considering we got there at 1pm!. The coach dropped us off right behind the away end.

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

We couldn't see any pubs near the Madejski so decided to have our usual wander round the ground which is has an impressive looking hotel, conference suite, training ground and a excellent club shop. Home fans mixed with the Rotherham lot and I didn't see any trouble. There were plenty of food outlets outside the ground and I  had a box of chips for 1.50 which was quite reasonable for a football ground and they were surprisingly tasty.

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

From the outside the Fosters stand looks like just a lump of metal painted blue and not that impressive, however once inside its a different matter. The ground is very impressive, the ground is very similar to Pride Park which I visited the other week but perhaps slightly smaller (I think). The away end is quite steep and anyone with a fear of heights should perhaps try and get seats at the front of the stand!. I'm quite a fit bloke and even I was slightly out of breath before taking my seat on the back row.

 

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

On entering the ground, only two turnstiles where opened as only 700 millers were making the journey, however we were greeted by around 20 stewards who searched almost everyone but were friendly at the same time, apart from the one who looks like Phil Mitchell who maybe shouldn't take himself to seriously! 

As soon as we were inside we decided to check our seats out (see above regarding the steepness of stand), I have to say the steward who greeted us was one of the friendliest I've encountered on my travels. We enjoyed some good banter before going back to check out the rest of the facilities, two counters were open one serving just food and soft drinks and one serving beer as well. The choice of beer and food was good and from a stand sponsored by Fosters the pint of the aforementioned was as good as from a pub. We then enjoyed the 2nd half of Everton vs Southampton on SKY TV which was being shown on the tv's on the concourse (and it was a cracking match) before taking our seats for the game.

Oh dear the millers were outclassed going down to a fantastic James Harper strike from 20 yards after 15 minutes. It was all downhill from there onwards! 2 more goals before half time from Reading effectively ended the contest. 2nd half was a Reading passing show and we were ran ragged but didn't concede any more goals 3-0 oh dear!.

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

Despondent we made our way out, not expecting any trouble and we didn't get any. Another big thumbs up for the Reading Stewards and the local police. Organisation is paramount at Reading and other clubs notably Derby County should take note. 

All our coaches (only 3 of them today) were parked right outside the away end exit and a fence was erected to stop Reading fans from coming near the away fans, this wasn't going to be a game with any trouble between the two sets of fans however this is a excellent idea for the club when they play teams with a big following. It is virtually impossible to cause trouble - 10 out of 10 Reading.

The only downside is if you haven't come on the coach and parked elsewhere, you have to wait until the fences come down and the coaches have left before been allowed to move away.

Once away on coach didn't take long to get away from the ground onto the main round and onto the long long journey home.

7. Summary of overall thoughts of the day out

Excellent, probably the best away ground I've been to. Friendly stewards (apart from the one that threw the lad out in the 2nd half for just standing up!), decent food, drinks..... But Reading have a excellent team and don't expect to come away with more than a point.

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