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Legendary rematch between Reading School and Reading FC Academy celebrating 150th Anniversary (1872-2022)

An exhilarating football match was held between Reading School and Reading FC Academy on Wednesday 23rd February 2022. 

150 years on, Reading Football Club returned with their Category 1 Academy team for a rematch of the 1872 match.  Sponsored by the Old Redingensians Association (ORA), the match formed part of both the celebrations of the 150th anniversary of Reading FC and 150 years of Reading School located, on the Erleigh Road site. The competitive fixture, re-enacted previously in 2003, was the idea of Roger Titford (Supporters Trust At Reading (STAR), Heritage Officer) and Raymond Sawyer (ORA).

Photo above: Roger Titford

The match attracted over 250 spectators and garnered media attention from various local and national outlets including, Wokingham Today, Reading Today, ITV Meridian and BBC Radio Berkshire.

Fans from both teams cheered in high spirits as Headmaster, Mr A M Robson, kicked off the first half of the game using the classic brown ball. The rules as played in 1872 were applied to the first 45 minutes of the fixture, which included replacing modern goals with two upright posts with a strip of tape between them and no goal-nets or penalty areas.

Photo above: Mr J Roberts (Estates Manager) & Mr N Winterbourne (Estates Officer).

Mr J Roberts did a superb job in building the goals fit for the 1872 rematch.

The Reading School starting XIII, wore a retro-inspired kit based on Reading School Association Football kit in the Late Victorian period while the Reading FC Academy team wore replicas of the blue and white striped shirts, as worn by the first-ever Reading FC team, thanks to Macron.  To add to the authenticity of the throwback match, modern goals were replaced with two upright posts with a strip of tape between them and there were no goal-nets or penalty areas.

Mr Allen (Head of PE), Mr J Sanchez (East House Boarding Master and Teacher of PE) and Mr A Robertson (Teacher of PE and Boarding Tutor) all made an appearance on the pitch, but it was the Headmaster, Mr Robson who impressed the crowd with his valiant play.

Mr A M Robson (Headmaster) commented:

The celebration of the beautiful game did not disappoint. The recreation of the 1872 match was a resounding success and an example of a superb community spirit, that reflected positively on both the School and the Football Club.

We were proud to play a part in the celebration of the history of Reading Football Club and the sporting traditions of Reading School. Thank you to the organisers and volunteers for their service in ensuring the excellent community event was a great success.

Photo above: Mr A M Robson (Headmaster) takes on the Reading FC Academy youth

Reading FC Academy scored the opening goal and this was doubled by another FC Academy player when the away team took a commanding 2-0 half-time lead.

For the second half, it was back to the modern rules we know of today.  The Reading School team did their best to hold back the tough opposition, however, they struggled to prevent a further two goals score by the brilliant RFC Academy players. The match ended with a 4-0 victory to Reading FC Academy. 

Reading School coach, Mr S Allen (Head of PE), praised his team for their exceptional performance against the elite opposition. He said:

“This was a brilliant event which showed an incredible sense of community on a sport, school and wider Reading level.  Such an enjoyable day, well done to everyone involved and a huge thank you to everyone involved in organising and planning the event.”

Pranav G (10L), Fabian RW (13E), Will M (13C), Isaac J (13C), Charlie D (13E), Aadam A (13C), Luke S (12S), Yusef AA (12E), Andrew S (12C), Adam W (11E), James A (12C) & Haris M (12C) did a fantastic job of representing the school and made everyone proud, despite not achieving the result they hoped for.

Head of Academy coaching at Reading Football Club, Anthony Ferguson, also commented:

“This thoroughly enjoyable afternoon was a great display and exhibition of local football and at the same time an opportunity to give varied experiences to all players and staff. The event was both well organised and attended by people who hold a true affinity to Reading Football Club and Reading School.  It was played in a fantastic spirit and the rules in the first half brought joy and much entertainment. The touchline support was also very encouraging.  One of the most satisfying things about this match was the learning and for people to understand the depth and history of what they are involved in. Well done to everyone involved. ”