Reading City Football Club would like to wish it's players, managers, coaching staff, club officials, club partners, our supporters along with all their families a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
As a new decade began this year, it certainly isn't a year we would have expected. At this time last year, I recall saying that we'd look forward to seeing the club make many more memories as a new decade begins, whilst this season has been stopping and starting there's plenty of positives to take away as we end the year.
During the first lockdown Victoria Pyke who does a sterling job managing our facilites whilst also having to manage our finances coordinated the next phase of our facilites upgrade here at the Rivermoor. You'll recall from my christmas message last year how Victoria had overseen improvements with the toilets being replaced, floodlights being improved and the kitchen being extended. This year we have seen the car park surface improved, an outside bar being built, the clubhouse and boardroom being resurfaced.
The ground also got a fresh new look as we painted and cleaned external walls and made repairs. As well as thanking Victoria for coordinating all this work i'd also like to say thank you to all those who gave their time to help with our facilities upgrade, including:
- The members of the senior squad management team and players who helped with painting.
- Our loyal supporters especially Jimmy Monger who gave up countless hours to help us with painting.
- Our Reading City Under 10 Athletic Manager Russsell Ayres who gave up one day a week over a period of 8 weeks to help out with the facilities upgrade.
- Our Reading City Under 15 Royals Manager John Turner for building our new outside bar for us.
- Dan Linger who is a parent of one of our youngsters for supplying the new board room flooring.
- Max Maxwell and his company J@Maxwell who made a donation to the club which helped with for the flooring costs, Max also made a donation in May 2019 which helped cover the costs of our toilet refurbishment.
We were also able to make improvements to the hallowed turf here at the Rivermoor to ensure that both the Cityzens and our good friends at Woodley United had the best surface possible to play on. Over the summer months the pitch was re-seeded, treated with weed killer and covered in sand to ensure its in the best possible condition. I'd like to thank Head Groundsman Dave Wyeth and his team at C&D Facilities for continuing to work tirelessly on our pitches all year round. I'd also like to thank Rigby Taylor who are the UK's leading supplier of products for the improvement, maintenance and construction of sports, amenity and landscape areas for carrying out the seeding and fertilising.
Away from football we witnessed an atrocity take place right here in the centre of Reading, The events that unfolded in Forbury Gardens on Saturday 20th June shocked and saddened all of us here at Reading City Football Club, this was an atrocious attack which sent shockwaves through the whole community as six people were brutally attacked in our town's back garden.
Our thoughts remain with the family, friends and all those who knew James Furlong, Joe Ritchie and David Wails who tragically lost their lives in this atrocity, they’ll never be forgotten. Our thoughts are also with all those affected by this incident including the brave emergency services who ran towards danger whilst others ran away.
Sadly in July after so much hard work had gone into improving the club, we suffered heartache after our clubhouse was burgled and we were met with a scene of total devastation. But in our darkest hour we were overwhelmed with offers of support. I'd like to thank everyone for the level of genorosity and support shown towards the club. On behalf of everyone at Reading City Football Club we are very grateful to those who offered their time and services and to those who donated towards our repairs bill. If there's one thing to take away from our break-in its that there's still lots of good in the world.
This year has been very challenging to say the least for myself and the board of directors here at Reading City Football Club and i'd therefore like to thank Victoria Pyke (Club Treasurer & Facilities Manager) , Steve Stace (Club Welfare Officer) and Pam Kirkpatrick (Youth Section Secretary) and Chris Gallimore (Club Secretary) for their hard work in supporting me in running the club as this year we were thrown into the unknown and had to spend hours dissecting the latest covid-19 guidance from the Government and footballing bodies, to ensure we were fully compliant, with over 20 youth teams and 3 senior sides that's no easy task on top of the day to day running of a football club. Like all our volunteers, we all have home lives and day jobs too so i'm very grateful to the time that they've all given up in what has been very challenging year.
I'd particulary like to thank Victoria Pyke as our facilities manager and treasurer, as not only has Victoria overseen our refurbishment and managed our finances, she has also worked hard to ensure the Rivermoor is covid-19 compliant on matchdays so that all who visit have a safe and enjoyable visit. I'd also like to thank all our matchday volunteers who have helped out throughout the year.
Despite our first team's 2019/20 season ending prematurely due to the pandemic, we still finished in a promising position and one that First Team Manager Simon Johnson and his backroom team would look to build on this season. Simon transformed his playing squad and his backroom team ahead of the new 2020/21 season and the togetherness the first team are currently showing is fantastic and has been a catalyst for their success so far this season, we're currently third in the Uhlsport Hellenic Premier Division and narrowly missed out on reaching the Second Round Proper of the FA Vase for the very first time. I'd like to thank Simon Johnson and his backroom team made up of Sam Woodruff (Assistant Manager), Michael Butcher (Player/Assistant Manager), Jaz Saundh (Physiotherapist), Rhys York (Goalkeeping Coach), Kieron Drake (Coach) and Luke Prowse-Baldwin (Kitman) for their hard work so far this season. Although we haven't played many games we've made a very positive start and I hope we'll be able to kick on again soon.
Like Simon Johnson, our Under 23s Manager Deano Jones also transformed his playing squad and backroom team ahead of their 2020/21 Thames Valley Premier League campaign starting after they narrowly missed out on the title in a close race in the 2019/20 season, had the season not ended prematurely who knows what may have been the outcome. Sadly Deano's new-look side has endured a tough start to the 2020/21 season. However they are the young guns of the future, so I have every faith that we'll soon see positive results. I'd like to thank Deano Jones and his backroom team made up of Darren Seal (Assistant Manager) and Pete Chingoma (Coach) for their hard work so far this season.
Our media team has also transformed this year as our Media and Communications Manager Ryan Sheehan continues to expand his team. I'd like to thank Ryan and his media officers Nick Bird, James Earnshaw, Katie Dearling, and Daniel Thomas for their hard work throughout this year. Thanks to all their hard work the club has a recognised brand and we are firmly establishing ourselves as a club for the community of Reading.
This year marks my 30th year of being involved in football and it was humbling to receive the Outstanding Contribution to Local Football Award at this year's Berkshire Football Awards. However I am just one person who tries to make the right decisions for the club and anything that I am involved in, so without people and their support, there wouldn't be any club. So that award wasn't for me but for everyone who has trusted me and believed in me over the years.
Our youth section continues to go from strength to strength, with all our youth teams enjoying positive starts to their seasons. We've also been able to bridge the gap between youth football thanks to the introduction of our Development Squad, which will take players aged 16-18 and prepare them for the first team and under 23s. Under 23s Manager Deano Jones played a key part in setting up this team and successfully recruited Lennox Harry as Development Squad Manager, they've had a fantastic start to their inaugural season.
Our partnership with John Madejski Academy's Football Performance Programme also continues to go from strength to strength with more of their students and graduates joining our senior ranks. This year has also seen us surpass one hundred consecutive games that a member of JMA has featured for the first team. A big thank you to Michael Butcher and everyone at John Madejski Academy for their continued support. The partnership is a great opportunity for all involved and shows how development and transition from youth to adult should take place.
Here at Reading City Football Club, we have a fantastic team driving the club in the right direction both on and off the pitch, that hard work saw three of our volunteers nominated for Volunteer of the Season in the Berkshire Football Awards. Victoria Pyke, Rhys York, and Ryan Sheehan were all nominated but sadly didn't take home the coveted prize.
Thank you to each and every one of you for your hard work and support this year. I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, I hope you all stay safe and that we'll see each other again soon.
Raise a glass to 2021 and let's hope it's better than 2020, I know for sure that'll be an exciting year for the club.