Reading FC v SAFC ‘Who are You?’: another vote for Toon Doon

Jake asks the question
Jake asks the question


Water, maybe tons of melted snow,
may have flowed under the bridge by the time you read this. The questions to Martin Brailli*, a bookseller, football referee and fan of Reading, were answered while emotions were still stirred by seven or eight minutes of heroics at home to West Brom but before the fine win at St James1 Park. He has strong memories of Charlie Hurley’s spell as manager, strong views on what shoud have happened to SAFC for failing to stage a game because of summer rainfall and an unusual philisophy on life at the lower end of the Premier …

Salut! Sunderland: What a comeback against WBA. How do you explain it and, though matchday reports may have covered this point, how many home fans missed it having left assuming defeat?

I’m not sure I can explain it, although in recent seasons we have won a lot of games with late goals so there is something in the attitude of the players that means they never accept a defeat. Brian McDermott also has a knack of making the right substitutions and yet again a sub got a goal.
A fair few left , but then that happens every week as it seems for some people getting home 10 minutes early is more important than getting the full 90 minutes of football they paid for. Not too long ago we saw droves of Arsenal fans walking out early thinking they were out of the cup, and then complaining when they weren’t allowed back in when they staged a late turnaround. There’s a lesson there somewhere !!

Did you already believe Reading would survive, has this result changed your opinion or are you still expecting relegation (there will be other possible outlooks)?

I have no idea if we will survive, but we have a decent chance but there is a long way to go yet and this time last season we weren’t looking that likely to get promoted, so no one is making any assumptions just yet. Personally the idea of being a yo yo club appeals much more than being a perennial lower mid table Premiership side anyway !

What was your reaction to news that a Premier League club, located in a region notorious for challenging weather conditions, could not put on a match in August?

Baffling. Cricket teams that fail to provide a decent playing surface have points deducted, why should the same not apply to football ? With the millions in the game there is really no excuse for not being able to guarantee a playable surface every week.

And do you feel you’d have fared better had it been played?

Possibly, although you deservedly beat us in the rearranged game.


Last season must have been wonderful for a Reading fan. What is your honest assessment of how it has been so far back in the Premier?

We’ve not had an awful lot of luck, with a different bounce of the ball we could have had another 6 or 7 points (but I’ll accept that I’m probably looking at this in a slightly biased way !). We probably have taken too long to adjust our way of playing and find our best line up but we’ve been involved in some incredible games. Whatever happens we’ll be a better side next season, we have no money worries and life will continue !


Is Brian McDermott the man for the job come what may or do you feel he has done all he can and should make way sooner or later for someone else?

After his first 2 years in charge he has plenty of credit in the bank. He’s learning and I’d be happy for him to be in charge for several more promotions yet !


Biscuitmen or Royals, Elm Park or Madejski?

No preference over nicknames, we’ve been the Royals for nearly 40 years and it’s better than being ‘United’ or ‘Blues’. Sentimentally Elm Park will always be home, but if we’d stayed there we would have been forever bumbling around the lower reaches of the Football League.


Who are the greatest players you have seen or wish youd seen in Reading colours and who should have been allowed nowhere near them?

Robin Friday, Glen Little and Darius Wdowcjek were all heroes of mine. Anyone not good enough or with the wrong attitude has been forgotten about – life’s too short for negativity !


What memories/impressions do you have of Charlie Hurley’s association with the club?

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He took over when I was in my early teens so my first experiences of terrace culture were watching his team. At the time he was the first ‘big name’ to come to the club and he did pretty well. He will be forever remembered as the man who managed to get a couple of brilliant seasons out of Robin Friday.


And what other thoughts do you have on Sunderland – the club, the fans, the region?

I think the North East in general deserves a lot more success than it has had of late. It’s been an incredible breeding ground for footballers and there is a culture of supporting your clubs that we can’t really compete with here, given that a huge proportion of our local population have moved in from elsewhere.

What will be this season’s top four in order, who is going down and, unless already mentioned, where will our two clubs finish?

Man Utd, Man City, Chelsea, Spurs – although if Spurs can avoid there tradtitional late season slump they may grab 3rd.
Relegation for QPR, Villa and Newcastle who seem to have fallen off a cliff. Us to scrape to safety by a point or so and you to be boringly lower mid table.

Has the time come to accept diving as part of the modern game? If not, how do we stamp it out along with other forms of cheating?

Not sure why we should ‘accept’ any form of cheating. The only way to stop it is by taking points away from clubs with regular offenders but how you adminsiter that is an issue. On a wider point I would like to see referees allowed to get on with refereeing and managers told to stop whining about decisions. I’d also sack every pundit until they actually go and learn the laws of the game and go out and referee for a season on the parks. I am a referee and the lack of understanding of the laws and their application amongst people who earn their living from the game is shocking.

What single step should Reading FC or football authorities take to improve the lot of the ordinary supporter?

Get a grip on prices. There is no reason why tickets to a game should cost £40, £50 or £60 pounds.

The club vs country debate: who wins for you and why?

Club, no question. Although I love watching the England rugby and cricket teams I often only know there is a football international because yet again our fixtures have been disrupted. Sadly I think most footballers care little about international football, so why should I?


Will you be at our game and what will be the score?

Of course I’ll be there. The score could be anything although I think the highest aggregate I’ve not yet seen in a game is 13 so how about we win 8-5 ?

Martin Brailli
Martin Brailli
* Martin Brailli on himself:

I saw my first Reading game in 1969 and have been a regular pretty much ever since. I was chairman of the supporters’ club for a couple of years, ran the supporters’ football team for a few years and am now on the club payroll on a part time basis. I’m a bookseller by trade so pretty much manage to earn a living from the things I’d do even if no one paid me for them.

Interview: Colin Randall

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21 thoughts on “Reading FC v SAFC ‘Who are You?’: another vote for Toon Doon”

  1. There are many forms of intelligence and fans can be both Mensa candidates and numpties…… A prime candidate is Boris Johnson.

  2. Saw a great tshirt at a festival last year emblazoned with

    There’s no such thing as Thatcher…….society

    And a picture of her facing melting into insignificance. Made me laugh anyway

  3. Should read Ill informed not i’ll informed …damn Apple products….no wonder their shares have collapsed. Is predictive texting the curse of the modern world? Maybe Gove should ban it instead of destroying education…..sorry , political rant inappropriate in this forum

    • Not inappropriate at all! Gove should be banned and I still blame Thatcher for all of the ills that beset this world.

      As for geordiedoonsooth I think he’s probably a canny lad who just happens to have been born on the dark side – not his fault! A couple of seasons back I offered him a bet that whoever finished lower in the Premier would buy the other a pint in the pub of the winner’s choosing but not the Strawberry or the Colliery. He didn’t take me up on it but I make the same offer this season. Sunderland 8th – Mags 16th is my prediction.

  4. Avoiding labels is usually wise. Illiterate no, I’ll informed perhaps……computing and literacy…lol…all 800 words in that lexicon. Over the last 5-6 years SAFC have finished above Nufc in all bar one. Suspect it’ll be the same this season….one Villa swallow does not a (Nufc) resurgence make. Quite relaxed if they improve…still feel we’ll end up top ten and they won’t. Don’t want them to go down. Want Boro to come up. Hope Graham given a chance. All clubs have minority of clowns but hope ours focus on backing the Lads. Going to the Reading game but sitting with the home fans…should be fun. Hope they survive…good spirit. Peace and love, brothers and sisters

  5. Sess on the wing? No, no and thrice no. He goes missing and singularly fails to help his full back. I think we’re going to see a massive leap from MON and he’s going to go 4-3-3 with Sess floating just behind Fletcher and Graham.
    Sorry, not sure what happened there, I’ve obviously had a knock on the head.

  6. Now that Graham has signed, I wonder if 4-4-2 is a probability now?
    With Sess on the left wing, drifting inside. AJ on the right. McClean on the bench.
    I’ve not studied Graham much but I think he’s a poacher. In that sense , are Fletcher and Graham too similar to play together?
    Not knowing Graham much, as I’ve said, I don’t know.
    Any thoughts?

  7. Reading now are no pushover as they showed v Chelsea and a few weeks ago at Newcastle.
    We have to be careful, and we have to be a lot better than v Swansea this week.
    I think Cattss, Rose and Cuellar coming back will help us.
    I’d like to see this Mangane ghet a start soon. I think he’s not only good in terms of defence, but gives us a target for corners.
    My predication is 0-1 (Fletch 35 mins)

  8. malcolm you’re right in point I do love winding you lot up it’s so easy :-). Probably because you all really realise that you are just a wee, wee club from south of the mighty Tyne

  9. Martin makes a lot of good points in his piece. He is spot on about pundits spouting off whilst not having a clue about the laws of the game. It seems Bale is learning to stay on his feet and as a result scored last night – though according to MOTD he was still “entitled” to go down and get his opponent yellow carded!

    Sort of agree about the ensuring the pitch is playable but we had had an incredible amount of rain in the lead up to the first scheduled game and it was a torrential downpour I was driving through on my way to the stadium. Several roads were closed because of flooding and it’s not much better as I type! Pity Tuesday’s game wasn’t called off instead!

    Oh and geordiedoonsooth likes to wind us up about his so called Mag roots but is really a closet Sunderland fan so don’t let him get to you davey.

    • malcolm I was born and dragged up in Walker and have been a toon fanatic since my Dad took me when I was 7 which is all of 54 year ago (yes I’m an old git). I never have been and never will be an SMB. What I am though is a FOOTBALL fan and being from the north east now living just outside Reading (31 years) my feelings for you lot have mellowed. I still love beating you but just wish we were both top teams instead of mid-table at best. And Davey one thing I’m not is illiterate I run a very succesful computer business. HWTL (Black & White of forever)

      • Geordiedoonsouth, I would like to point out that here at Salut Sunderland we would no way condone people being agegist and your refrence to being an ‘old git’ was not neccessary, git would have sufficed on its own. FTM

    • Had Bale been anywhere near the box, his reaction to the challenge that nearly knocked him over may well have been very different. Watch him now – he’ll cite that challenge, as proof that he doesn’t dive, every time he’s interviewed.
      Cracking goal, mind

  10. Geordiedoonsooth is one of the regular illiterate contributors to the Newcastel Blog edited by Ed Harris . Of course now , Newcastle are going to fly up the league , probably win 90% of their remaining games and possibly finish top 5 !!!!
    Unlike this blog it’s a haven for the sad , disillusioned and forever in our shadow Black and Whites

    • Now what? Now that you have beaten the worst team in the Premiership? Now that you have signed a shed load of mercenary frogs that barely anyone has heard of? Now that Fat Mike has delivered a mid season pep talk (with translator of course)? Now that’s deluded.

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