I’VE had some great nights in Reading. None of them, though, were at the Madejski Stadium, primarily because I’ve never been there. No, my great nights were at the Reading Festival. They were also some of the wettest nights of my life.
Over the last eight years, I have been to the Reading Festival three times. On every occasion, it has absolutely bucketed down at least once during the weekend. To my mind, there are three possible explanations for this:
1) I am incredibly unlucky, and am followed to all major outdoor events by an enormous rain cloud.
2) The Reading Festival just always happens to coincide with a massive downpour.
3) Reading is in fact the wettest town in Britain, and it rains there all the time.
I would say that the wettest night of my life was spent in Reading. It was at the 2000 festival, when I, along with a few friends, decided to be adventurous and camp on site.
My friends were all sensible enough to bring along big sturdy tents that did marvellous things such as keep out the rain. I was rather less sensible, and ended up sleeping in a tent that seemed to be made of papier-mache.
Now when you’re in a not-so-sturdy tent in the rain, the important thing is never to touch the sides. As, before you know it, a mini Lake Ontario will have formed at your feet. Sadly, I didn’t realise this until it was too late.
As a result, I spent the night trying to sleep in a giant puddle. Not that it mattered, as a group of festival-goers a few tents away were keeping the whole field awake by singing Verve songs in a key so off that it might have had Richard Ashcroft consulting his lawyer. (You can probably tell from all of this that I would never have made a very good hippy.)
We were due to stay for another night after that, but I was so wet and grumpy that I decided to go home a day early, which meant that I missed the Stereophonics. So every cloud has a silver lining.
That’s all a bit harsh on Reading. I had a great time at all of the festivals I went to; even when the weather didn’t hold up.
And as result, whenever I think of Reading, I always associate it more with Franz Ferdinand, Pulp and the Kaiser Chiefs than I do with that rich chap who is good friends with Cilla Black and has a football stadium named after him.
Last night’s final match: Reading 0 Portsmouth 2. Commentator: Martin Fisher.
“The last time these two teams met, it was 7-4,” said Gary Lineker in his introduction. “You can assume from the fact it’s on last that there was no repeat.”
No, but there were shades of the comedy Reading defending that appeared in that 7-4 defeat at Fratton Park, and the equally mad 6-4 loss at Tottenham on Saturday.
There was defender Ibrahima Sonko, getting sent off inside four minutes for a professional foul on Benjani. But Niko Kranjcar missed the penalty.
There was keeper Marcus Hanhemann, showing the catching skills of an England wicketkeeper as he spilled a simple catch, allowing Sol Campbell to give Portsmouth the lead.
And then there were the wide open spaces left for John Utaka to round Hahnemann to complete the victory in the second half.
Two red cards and just one point from three games for Reading over Christmas is hardly cause for celebration. It never rains but it pours.
1=. Fulham: 5 (Gubba difference: +1)
1=. Reading: 5 (GD: +1)
3. Derby: 5 (GD: 0)
4. Wigan: 4 (GD: +1)
5. Birmingham: 4 (GD: 0)
6. Bolton: 3 (GD: +1)
7=. Aston Villa: 3 (GD: 0)
7=. West Ham: 3 (GD: 0)
9. Gubba: 2
10=. Chelsea: 2 (GD: 0)
10=. Sunderland: 2 (GD: 0)
12=. Everton: 1
12=. Middlesbrough: 1
12=. Newcastle: 1
12=. Portsmouth: 1
12=. Bury: 1
12=. Workington: 1
12=. Huddersfield: 1
12=. Grimsby: 1
(NB. Where teams are level, positions are decided by Gubba Difference; the number of times a team is on Match of the Day last with Tony Gubba commentating.)