My dad started taking me to the football in 1986. I was eleven. As luck would have it it coincided with Reading FC's record beating run of thirteen straight wins from the start of the season. Ending in the fourteenth match with a 2-2 draw with Wolves.
I was distraught.
If only I knew then the years of toil to come supporting my local team.
Yesterday I treated my dad to a belated birthday present. We went to the last home match of the season. A game against already promoted Burnley.
A must win game to ensure our progression into the play offs. Alternatively we had to get a better result than Brighton who were playing away to Nottingham Forest.
There is a certain inevitability to games involving Reading.
I'd predicted back in October that we'd need to beat Burnley 3-0 to scrape into the play offs on goal difference.
Whilst technically not quite right I was near enough.
So me my dad and my mate Dave rocked up to the ground just after 10 am.
Our posh seats meant we were treated to a three course brunch. Red or white Sir?
Dear god it is only ten in the morning.
Then Reading legend Jimmy Quinn walked in. Our hero. Scorer of 42 goals in one season. The best headerer of a ball ever to wear the hoops according to Burch senior.
Former player manager in our first fateful play off final against Bolton in 94/95. A game to this day I haven't watched since. Two nil up and a missed penalty and another missed open goal. And leading 2-1 with seven minutes to go. And. Well you can guess what happened.
So back to Burnley.
After a couple of looseners we took our padded leather seats. Bang on the halfway line. Best seats in the house.
And who should be in the row behind but a school mate I've not seen for twenty years. A good omen. Or someone else to blame should it all go wrong.
Reading take an early lead through a deflected own goal. Brighton are also losing. If it stays this way we're in the play offs.
Burnley strike back and then take the lead. We scramble away a third and go in at half time down 2-1.
Brighton still losing. We're still in the play offs.
Another nerve settler at half time then we retake our seats.
Brighton have equalised. Shit. They go ahead of us.
Then a wonder goal from absolutely nothing. Hugs all round. Back in the sixth spot.
This is it. We're only gonna go and do it.
With added minutes being played out and a corner to Reading the home manager waves everyone up including our goal keeper.
What's he doing? Something has happened. Brighton must have scored. Noone can confirm it. Our game ends in a draw.
Shit, shit, shit. What's going on.
A cheer goes up. Have Forest equalised.
A pitch invasion ensues. Thousands flood onto the pitch. Another cheer from behind the goal.
I don't believe it. I won't. Not until I've seen it.
There's no bloody phone reception. Everyone clogging up the airwaves trying to get the results on the phone.
I turn and shout up to the camera man on the gantry above. What's the Brighton result?
The news slowly seeps out around the ground.
We finish seventh.
A 92nd minute winner at Forest. Who would've predicted that?
What a day. I absolutely loved it. Every minute.
Going to the footie with your dad is ace. Thanks Robbie.