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Matches of Yesteryear - Reading v U's 26/01/02 19:24 - Sep 6 with 159 viewswessex_exile

Reading v Colchester United
Saturday 26th January 2002
Nationwide Division 2 (Tier 3)
Attendance 12,743


Well, it had to happen eventually – a match without a doubt I attended but can’t for the life of me recall a single moment of! I certainly remember the journey over, which included a particularly fraught incident following several tins of lager on the first leg of my train journey, my connection from Basingstoke to Reading having no working toilets, and an empty lager tin – but I’ll leave you to work the rest out!



This wasn’t my first trip to the Madejski Stadium, which opened in 1998, I’d been quite a few times before, including the LDV Vans Trophy game earlier the same season (which we lost 2-1). Alan Pardew was managing the Royals at the time, who following six consecutive wins (all clean sheets) were sat comfortably top of the league, six points ahead of Brighton (albeit Brighton had two games in hand). The U’s were managed by Steve Whitton, and positioned reasonably well in mid-table, six points off the play-offs.

The U’s lined up at the Madejski:
1….Simon Brown
30..John Halls (six-game loan from Arsenal)
19..Alan White (White White)
12..Scott Fitzgerald
7….Karl Duguid
3….Joe Keith (Gavin Johnson 55’)
20..Micky Stockwell
10..Kem Izzet
17..Bobby Bowry (Thomas Pinault 77’)
9….Scott McGleish
11..Graham Barrett

For the Royals that day were two who were destined to become some of the greatest names of the early 21st century for the U’s – Phil Parkinson in the starting line-up (and subbed in the 72nd minute), and Jamie Cureton coming off the bench in the 60th minute. Other names of note included John Mackie (on the front cover of the programme), John Salako, and of course Reading goal-machine Nicky Forster.

I don’t have the stats for the U’s fans in attendance, but I’d reckon it was somewhere between 3-400, in a stadium which was just over half-full on the day – actually quite a decent crowd for Reading at the time, no doubt reflecting their recent success. The matchday facts (courtesy of https://www.coludata.co.uk/) were that Nicky Forster put Reading ahead from the penalty spot a few minutes before half-time, and Andy Hughes doubled the lead not long into the second half. In the 55th minute Steve Whitton replaced Keith with Johnson, and in the 60th minute (presumably tactically), Cureton made his appearance, replacing Tony Rougier. In the 69th minute, Nicky Forster again showed why he was such a renowned striker, putting Reading 3-0 up, and the game out of reach for the U’s. Shortly after, with Parkinson on a yellow card, he was replaced by Keith Jones, and not even the late introduction of Thomas Pinault for Bobby Bowry was enough for the U’s to get anything from the game.

However, in the absence of any meaningful match memories, what I can share is a little glimpse into my working life, and more importantly, how that has a direct bearing on being at the Madejski Stadium. Over the years, my company has provided archaeological services in support of the development of numerous football grounds and associated infrastructure. These have included Melksham Town, Rolvenden FC, Chichester City, Ebbsfleet United, Brentford’s new stadium, Hayes (before they became Hayes & Yeading United), Dorchester Town, Margate, even Southend United’s proposed stadium at Fossett’s Farm, and most notably the St Mary’s stadium at Southampton. This association also includes appointment by Reading FC to carry out archaeological works to clear the site ahead of the development of the Madejski Stadium and associated Reading Gate Retail Park (as it was then known).



Most of the proposed development site was occupied by Smallmead Tip, a household refuse landfill site mainly in use during the late 60s and 70s. The tip covered a vast area south of Foudry Brook, and to the west of what was then a drainage leat and footpath from Hartley Court in the south to Manor Farm in the north. Incidentally, the area around the Madejski still has built-in methane vents to this day because of the landfill still remaining in the surrounding area.

We were appointed in 1996 to evaluate land outside the footprint of the former tip to the east, in 1997 to the carry out a watching brief during removal of all the landfill material, and in 1998 to excavate remains identified during the previous evaluation. The first image below shows the extent of the watching brief overlain on the 1st Edition Ordnance Survey map of the area, and indeed where the former drainage leats used to run, which we subsequently re-discovered under the landfill, though that was about as exciting as this area got unfortunately.



The evaluation in the ‘lobe’ to the east, however, was a little more productive, identifying three ditches, all containing both 1st/2nd century Romano-British pottery, and some residual prehistoric finds. Two of the ditches (1546 and 1547), though somewhat sinuous, were broadly parallel, and were likely part of a Romano-British enclosure or field system. Though of a similar period, the third ditch (1548) was definitely later, and most likely indicates a rearrangement of the field system at some point (plan and section drawings below).





The residual prehistoric material was interesting, including not only Late Bronze Age (1100-700 BC) pottery, but worked flint of both Early Neolithic (4-3000 BC) and potentially Mesolithic (8500-4000 BC) date. We were already aware of the prehistoric potential of the overall area, and a zone of high prehistoric potential further to the north was subsequently preserved in situ beneath a car park.

Oh yes, and in case you’ve forgotten, the match finished…

Reading 3 (Forster 38’, Hughes 48’, Forster 69’) Colchester United 0

The Reading match was not long after a slump in our form had started, and which was largely going to continue through to the end of the season, only winning another four games in the end. Though we were never in any real danger of relegation, this was a disappointing finish, given we had been around the promotion and play-off spots for the first three months of the season. Reading were eventually overtaken by Brighton & Hove Albion, but were still promoted in second place, with Stoke City going up via the play-offs.

The U’s were captained for this game by Scott Fitzgerald, who had only been given the role in the middle of the week before. Some may recall this was following the sudden and unexpected departure of Simon Clark, who out of the blue had asked for his contract to be terminated with immediate effect, so that he and his family could go out to the Far East. Clark insisted at the time that this was a personal matter and nothing to do with Colchester United. He ended up playing three seasons with Woodlands Wellington in Singapore, and is currently Lead Youth Development Phase coach for Northampton Town.

We were, of course, going to see much more of Phil Parkinson and Jamie Cureton in the years to come, but that will be for another day I expect…

Up the U's
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Matches of Yesteryear - Reading v U's 26/01/02 on 04:28 - Sep 10 with 109 viewsghughes11

Enjoyed many a trip to the 'Mad Stad', however I am glad that I do not remember going to this one!

Liking the look of that Col U team. However, up against that Reading line-up, we wouldn't have a chance!

Ah, Simon Clark! Didn't he run someone over at the top of Balkerne Hill?
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Matches of Yesteryear - Reading v U's 26/01/02 on 06:55 - Sep 10 with 103 viewsnoah4x4

Fascinating insight into your work Wessex.

I suspect we have some remnants of Roman Britain under my wife's allotment. Any chance you can investigate about February (e.g. before she wants me to dig it)? You only need to go down about 20 cms as she will only be planting spuds. As payment, you get to keep what you find (which is more than I get).
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Matches of Yesteryear - Reading v U's 26/01/02 on 07:33 - Sep 10 with 98 viewsbwildered

Simon Clark was involved in a traffic incident at the Baulkerne Hill / Crouch St junction, where a pedestrian died . Pretty sure the coroner recorded a accidental death .



On a lighter note- my Roman garden could do with Lucy Worsley digging it (would save the NHS on blood pressure pills ).

Wessex, have you got a copy of North Essex Buttons on your bookshelf ?

Poll: Season 2019-20 prediction .

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Matches of Yesteryear - Reading v U's 26/01/02 on 09:51 - Sep 10 with 88 viewswessex_exile

Haha - if I'd had a pound for everyone that had invited me to dig over their garden/ allotment/ soil-based leisure activity zone

Ironically, I've always hated gardening as it happens, I guess it's like bus drivers not particularly wanting to drive buses in their time off? I'd also forgotten about that accident to be honest, and was wondering if that might have been a factor in Clark leaving, but it was well over a year earlier, so probably not.

Incidentally, if I needed anyone to dig over my garden, my personal choice would be Alice Roberts

Up the U's
Poll: How will we do in 2016/17
Blog: Matches of Yesteryear - Newport v U's 17/11/18

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Matches of Yesteryear - Reading v U's 26/01/02 on 10:31 - Sep 10 with 84 viewsPinault_Noir

Matches of Yesteryear - Reading v U's 26/01/02 on 09:51 - Sep 10 by wessex_exile

Haha - if I'd had a pound for everyone that had invited me to dig over their garden/ allotment/ soil-based leisure activity zone

Ironically, I've always hated gardening as it happens, I guess it's like bus drivers not particularly wanting to drive buses in their time off? I'd also forgotten about that accident to be honest, and was wondering if that might have been a factor in Clark leaving, but it was well over a year earlier, so probably not.

Incidentally, if I needed anyone to dig over my garden, my personal choice would be Alice Roberts


Ahh yes, Alice and Lucy...

Great feature again Wessex and fascinating to read about the work you do. A piece of you will remain forever in the fabric-earth of football.

I recall Clark's principal reason for leaving was the fatal accident.
Fitz was never given the credit he deserved but when one rads the team sheet it underlines for me that we had decent players then and I believe we do now. The difference is that at the moment we only play in one way and I feel the actual skill and capability of our team collective is constantly short changed. I genuinely still feel that - altho' arguably weaker than last season - we are still better than what we produce.

Keep up your great articles.
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Matches of Yesteryear - Reading v U's 26/01/02 on 18:52 - Sep 11 with 37 viewsnoah4x4

My preference is Suzannah Lipscomb. Lucy Worsley is fine, but Lipscomb is a worthy next generation successor.

But at some risk to the stability of Durham's blood pressure, let's look to an earlier generation. Susan Stranks could make any topic interesting (even if she didn't speak).
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