Jaded by commercialised football Bob Lethaby briefly strayed from the Royals path. Now destiny is calling. Or is it the opening bars of a godawful song?

I checked the weather forecast for Saturday today and decided that it is just about good enough for me to be a a fair weather football supporter, perhaps for one day only. Yes, I have purchased tickets for me and the boys to watch my home team, Reading, take on Middlesbrough in an early season top of the table clash at the Madejski Stadium.

Shortly after I purchased them, a friend of mine posted on Facebook a new club song, apparently written and produced by Reading’s Thai investment group who purchased the club last year, rescuing it from a dubious Russian investor who almost took the Royals into liquidation.

The song (see below) is so cringe-worthy my toes nearly snapped in half and I just couldn’t begin to understand who the target audience were supposed to be and who sanctioned such a ludicrous idea. Part of me suddenly wished I wasn’t going to the game now…by purchasing tickets, I feel like I am almost condoning it.

Appalling: ‘They Call us the Royals’ has embarrassed Reading FC fans

Then I wondered if it was actually me who had lost perspective and was becoming a relic of the piss-stained terraces of the 1980’s, where part of attending a football match was the the thrill of it erupting in violence on and off the pitch as players called Williams, Hicks, Bailey, Hurlock, Wood and Whitehurst, all on working class wages, crashed into career threatening tackles in the name of their club.

I guess it is the Murdoch inspired hype that does for me more than anything. Time and time again you hear the same old fabricated nonsense about the Premier League being ‘the best league in the world’ despite all the evidence to the contrary, as we have seen once again this week as our alleged top teams crumble to the likes of FC Porto and Olympiakos.

Of course, whilst it is easy to stop going to football matches, it is impossible to just drop the team you have foolishly adopted, and even that monstrosity of a video had my brain naively scrambling for excuses for it. I actually wondered if I could somehow convince those mocking my club that it was actually an ironic take on the modern game, demonstrating football’s comparison to the increasingly farcical Eurovision Song Contest.

Sadly, the Reading FC marketing department have previous form, including requesting fans to hold up cards with ‘Bring it On’ written on them as a way to show appreciation for the 2005-06 Championship winning American players, Marcus Hahnemann and Bobby Convey.

Fortunately, social media wasn’t as vibrant then, Facebook was in its infancy and Twitter was still an embryo, so whilst this crass attempt at marketing gained brief coverage, it was soon forgotten by other supporters who were busy revelling in in the embarrassment bestowed upon Norwich City fans courtesy of Delia Smith’s drunken but now legendary ‘Let’s be ‘aving you’ moment.

Delia Smith’s finest hour

A glance through ‘HobNob Anyone’ the Reading FC unofficial web page will tell you that the support for these bizarre marketing ploys is bordering on non-existent, so the only conclusion to draw is that it doesn’t matter what the genuine supporters think, because they will come and watch anyway.

It is the Thames Valley middle class with deep pockets that really matter to Reading FC, as they have the money to buy merchandise and ludicrously over-priced refreshments. They, whether we like it or not, are where the money is and to survive and maybe reach the heights of the Premiership again, Reading need them coming to games and enjoying a non-threatening, dare I say it, sedated atmosphere.

That is the way football has gone and without these people Reading would only attract a core support of about 11,000 at a 24,000 all-seater stadium, so it is best to let it be. However, football for all its changes for the better, is just not what it was and you can see that on MOTD (Match of the Day) where the stadiums sit in silence as over-zealous stewards patrol the seated terraces like members of the Gestapo.

However, the main reason I gave up on my Reading season ticket last time (in 2013) was not because of a middle class invasion that, when all is said and done, helps to keep the club in its current status as a steady Championship team with occasional Premiership flirtation.

No, it was the misguided sell-off to financially dubious investors who had been rejected by other clubs such as Everton, followed by the employment of a lame duck of a manager (Nigel Adkins) who was on his way back down to where he came from after a succesful spell where he inherited a Southampton side built by former Reading manager, Alan Pardew.

It has to be said that Nigel Adkins was sold a pup by the Russian owners with regards to investment, but this didn’t stop him behaving like some sort of evangelist, condescending school-teacher, with an obsession of complicating things and conducting match summaries in the present tense.

So I decided that if I was to be treated as a consumer rather than a supporter, I would behave like one and stop giving my money to a regime that from top to bottom, I didn’t like.

Despite condemning myself as a fair weather supporter earlier in this post, this was the only time during the most succesful period in Reading’s albeit unspectacular history, where I didn’t support the club, so my earlier longing for a return to the 80’s was just a classic case of temporarily deluding myself that nostalgia is not what it once was.

If the Thai owners only mistake is to make an ill-advised song, I can slowly learn to forgive them, especially as they have recently backed their new manager, Steve Clarke, with much needed investment. Like Steve Coppell and Brian McDermott in the recent past, Clarke comes across as a well meaning manager who unlike Adkins, wants the respect of the supporters and makes no excuses for poor performance.

I really hope I enjoy Saturday and get the buzz from football again because whilst I immensely enjoy cricket as a village game, on the international stage, like rugby, it is dominated by elitism where the haves get all the financial support and the have nots get brushed to one side…I felt no emotion with regards to England’s defeat against the Welsh last week.

As for football, there is so much of it I am uncomfortable with in the modern era, but engulfing yourself in rose tinted nostalgia is a bit like listening to an old Jam song from the late 70’s or early 80’s. It’s great to reminisce, but there is no point trying to recreate the past, as we have to evolve.

As much as I have great memories of days on the terraces, I really don’t want to go back to a time where going to a crumbling stadium was a genuine health and safety risk and a black winger faced an afternoon fending off bananas under a barrage of monkey chants. You can go to the Russia World Cup in 2018 for that.

Just heard that song again…my good God, what were they thinking of?

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