Wembley 95, 15 years on
15 years but it seems like only yesterday we took a 2-0 lead against Bolton in the play off final only to lose 4-3 after extra time. Saying that it was only last week I turned on ESPN Classic and saw a repeat of the game, and I had forgotten the quality of some of our players for so long that day. For example do you remember how well Scott Taylor played that sunny afternoon? He was immense, covered every blade of grass and seemed to be involved in every move.
Lee Nogan scored one of the greatest solo goals you will ever see, I had forgotten just how good it was and how easy he made it look and don`t forget the performance of Andy Bernal in a wing back role, he too was outstanding. I never really remembered him as anything other than a centre back, or right back but clearly we was just as good going forward.
It was the injuries to these two players that ultimately cost us that day I believe, the standard of replacements was simply not good enough - an ageing Jimmy Quinn and Jeff Hopkins were never going to produce the same quality.
I still believe that Fabien De Freitas` second goal, in extra time, was hand ball but we could have no argument at the score line at the end of the game. It was a season that started with all eyes on staying up rather that going up, as we had a small squad and despite the arrivals of Bernal and Simon Osborn we were not considered promotion candidates. We started well under Mark McGee and then Quinn and Mick Gooding continued the work during the second half of the season and our performance against Tranmere in the semi finals was one of the greatest Reading performances I have seen.
We went home disappointed and would never see a lot of those players in a Reading shirt again as the likes of Shaka, Osborn and Taylor were sold on but I left Wembley that afternoon proud to be a Royals fan. Still to this day I can say we were involved in the greatest play off final ever, it was just a shame we had to wait 11 years to finally realise our Premiership dream!