Away Day Tales: Episode 10 - Ashton Gate (30th Mar 2002)

in hive-185836 •  last year  (edited)

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Bristol City's one of those games that as a Reading fan, you enjoy going to. It's an easy drive straight down the M4 or a direct train and a walk from the station (although upon my first visit in 1999, I didn't appreciate quite how far the walk is from Bristol Temple Meads). So I've been a few times. I've also spent a year of my life (2015) living and working in Bristol at the company that made Stephen Lansdown (Bristol City owner) a billionaire (and perhaps somewhat ironically, I missed the 2015 encounter as I was on a course in Henley (just outside Reading 🙄)). And I've just remembered a little story from when I first moved there...

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Slight Aside

At the time, property in Bristol was hard to come by (it probably still is) and trying to find somewhere to rent was like trying to buy a bag of flour in early 2020. Doubly so if you had to travel from London for viewings with most properties gone before you'd even arrived. So when I started my new job, I had to stay in a hotel in the city centre where one evening, I decided to sit in the bar and have a well earned pint.

After a while, I hear some football talk in a strong Bristolian accent and boy, was this guy a know it all. Yann Kermorgant was a decent player at the time (at Bournemouth - later signing for Reading when he was well past his best) but no, Mr Know It All wasn't having it. It was all about some guy I'd never heard of, Jonathan Kodjia. It didn't matter what was said, this guy kept banging on about him and how brilliant he is. After a while, I couldn't help but get a look at Mr Know it all who'd obviously played too much Football Manager. And much to my surprise, sat at the table was Bristol City manager Steve Cotterill discussing future transfers with Stephen Lansdown and presumably, Kermorgant's agent. So I guess Mr Know It All really did know it all. Kodja went on to sign for Bristol City for a fee of £2m before Aston Villa saw his talent, paying £11m for him just 1 year later.

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Back to Ashton Gate

We drove to the ground on this occasion - our friend Nobber driving (a well earned nickname because he was a nob) and took to our seats fairly close to the front, not too far from the home fans.

Of all of my trips to this ground, this is the match I remember most. We were flying high at the top of the table and Bristol City were pushing to make the playoffs sitting in 6th with 5 games to go (if you're interested in how the season ended, my Away Days Episode 3 - Griffin Park explains all 🥳

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☝️ From the Match Day Programme

In what was the most frantic start to a game that I can remember, we were 2-0 up within 5 minutes and absolutely rocking. Then it was Bristol City's turn to score 2 goals in quick succession to level things up at 2-2. Just 13 minutes gone. The home fans started to get a bit cocky and the smile quickly wiped off their face with us going 3-2 up just 1 minute later. The most frantic start to a match that I can remember, 5 goals in less than 15 minutes and on course for a 30 goal thriller.

Unfortunately, the 30 goals didn't come and there was to be just 1 more - a 59th minute equaliser for the game to end in a 3-3 draw, just enough to keep us at the top of the table.

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The Journey Home

It's not unusual for a journey to get as much coverage as the match but I'll keep this anecdote short. My girlfriend at the time was born in Bristol and was still at Bath University (I'd finished the year before) so rather randomly, Nobber thought that it would be fun to pick her up on the way home and drive her back to Reading. So that's what we did, getting home at least 3 hours later than we probably should have done.

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Previous Away Day Tales

Episode 1 - Anfield (20th October 2012)
Episode 2 - The Manor Ground (17th March 1998)
Episode 3 - Griffin Park (20th April 2002)
Episode 4 - Upton Park (31st March 2012)
Episode 5 - Old Trafford (16th March 2013)
Episode 6 - Wembley Stadium (18th Apr 2015)
Episode 7 - Deepdale (26th Oct 2002)
Episode 8 - Hillsborough (11th Jan 2003)
Episode 9 - Highfield Road (26th Dec 2002)

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If you enjoy reading about my Away Days, please let me know in the comments, especially if there's a ground that you'd like me to write about (assuming I've been there).


I'm always interested in reading your views about Fantasy Sports or Sport in general either in the comments or via your own post, remembering to post in World of Xpilar and using the tag #woxsports or #woxfantasysports.


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Hello! Are you currently attending Reading's away matches? Is it left in a carefree past?

In your opinion, what is the reason for Reading's current 16th place in the Championship? Is it a change of generations or problems with funding? Although funding problems are probably a problem for Ukrainian clubs. Our club usually has one sponsor, and the future of the club depends on him. In England, as far as I read, the system is different.

I've not been to any for a couple of seasons (because of Covid and I've been to most of the grounds and a 2nd child all make it difficult). In my younger days, I went to every game home and away but I don't live in Reading any more and it's all a bit more difficult. I try to go to grounds that I haven't been to before though.

Over the last few years, the owners have spent loads of money trying to get us promoted and we're now paying the price for that. We've had a transfer embargo because we breached Financial Fair Play and because we sold our stadium to ourselves (a cheeky scam to try to trick fair play), we'll get a points deduction soon too (6 points probably). Derby did the same thing and got deducted 12 points (although they lied about it so their penalty was bigger).

We needed to get promoted last season and we didn't so we had to sell our best player (Michael Olise to Crystal Palace) and Omar Richards left for free (to Bayern Munich). I expect us to have a difficult season.

I think that we can have sponsors for pretty much anything. Our Stadium is now called "The Select Car Leasing" stadium (which is a horrible name) as well as the main shirt sponsor and various match day sponsors. It's all about the money!

It's all about the money!

Wow! Quite an unexpected answer for me. Such things are very similar to those that happen in my country.

6 points is a lot. Apparently Reading this season should focus on not leaving the Championship.

The transfer embargo is good news for the youth team and a good incentive for the youth football school.

Are you still a fan of Reading or do you support the team where you live?

Unfortunately, I think most of life is dominated by money and as much as it's made the Premier League as fantastic as it is, it's taken so much away from our beloved game but that's a whole new topic in its own right.

I wrote this article some time ago which was interesting to research. I couldn't believe the numbers involved and it shows how important money is in today's game.

Reading have always been good at bringing youth players through - the 2 players I mentioned (Oliseh and Richards) are both products of our youth academy so we get a lot right. Luckily, we've still got enough quality to stay up but we don't know how many years we'll struggle for.

Are you still a fan of Reading or do you support the team where you live?

I'll always support Reading - it's the town I grew up in and the team I've watched for the best part of 20 years. I'd like to go and watch Eastbourne at some point (they're currently non-league) with the-toddler-gorilla (if he ever starts liking football).

I read your article. It upset me. I believed that in economically developed countries everything is different.

I share your opinion that money kills football. It ceases to be a sport, and becomes a sphere of entertainment. If it was a sport, each club would train its players and play with them. And now if there is money, the club buys stars and shows results, earning even more money. Business.

Sadly not. The amount of money that the rich have still isn't enough for them. They always want more, until they have everything. This seems to be true the whole world over - never satisfied.

Football's definitely business now which is why most clubs are owned by businessmen who know little about what it's like to stand on a terrace in the pouring rain. I remember Kroenke (Arsenal owner) saying something about a cold night in Stoke - a place he's never been.

We recently had a good club Dnipro. It played well in the Europa League, brought Ukraine points. But it belonged to a very cynical oligarch. At one point, he hung a bunch of debts on the club, declared it bankrupt. Immediately after that he founded a new club Dnipro-1 (even the name is cynical and without imagination), but in the lower division.

Android on my phone now thinks I'm a fan of Reading (probably after I became interested in the club while reading your articles). So, apart from Ukrainian clubs, yesterday it showed me the result of Reading's match :) Unfortunately, Reading lost by missing one goal.

We recently had a good club Dnipro. It played well in the Europa League, brought Ukraine points. But it belonged to a very cynical oligarch. At one point, he hung a bunch of debts on the club, declared it bankrupt. Immediately after that he founded a new club Dnipro-1 (even the name is cynical and without imagination), but in the lower division.

Once an owner declares a club bankrupt as a result of their business dealings, they shouldn't be allowed to own a club again.

Android on my phone now thinks I'm a fan of Reading

Welcome to our Fan Club. I'm hearing rumours that our 9 point deduction will be announced soon which will drop us into the relegation zone ☹️ The good news, is that if we get relegated, I'll have plenty of new grounds to visit 🥳