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THE curtain came down on one of the most miserable home seasons in Reading's history with yet another defeat. Brentford were the tenth visiting team to win at the Mad Stad in 2014/15, while the Royals themselves won only eight times. Royals fan Chris Lee pointed out on Facebook that the starting eleven in this game had scored just ten goals between them, and that lack of finishing power showed through over and over again.

As usual, Reading had most of the play, but just couldn't finish and ended up losing yet again to a fairly average team. Brentford have had a great season on limited resources, but they rely as much on enthusiasm, organisation and confidence as pure talent. They got the early goal which topped up that confidence level for them and added a second midway through the second half when Royals were looking well set for an equaliser. After that it all petered out, and the summer can't come soon enough for Steve Clarke to start his squad shuffle.

Clarke admitted he was disappointed for the fans, and pointed the finger straight at lack of a cutting edge up front as the reason for another needless defeat. The Player of the Year award went to Adam Federici, the fifth club goalkeeper to do so. As we predicted, the runners-up were Jamie Mackie and Michael Hector.

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RAIN OR SHINE? COMPREHENSIVE WEATHER FORECAST FOR THE READING AREA (Met Office)
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WITH any lingering fear of relegation gone, this was supposed to be the night when the Royals started their build-up for next season - but the Mad Stad faithful will hope this was in no way an indication of how 2015/16 will pan out. Reading, with an experimental, but promising-looking line-up, dominated for long periods of a basically dreary match, but fell to a sucker punch two minutes from the end. A harmless-looking cross from the left found Clayton Donaldson unmarked for a near-post header out of Adam Federici's reach.

Feds, the fall-guy at Wembley, got a warm reception from a sympathetic crowd, and made a couple of decent saves - but at the other end, Darren Randolph was the busier of the two, keeping out Jamie Mackie and Nathaniel Chalobah in particular. The most urgent thing over the summer will be to find a 20-goal striker, because so many times in this medoicre season Reading have paid the full price for not taking chances when in charge of the game. Instead, for the second week running, and the umpteenth time this season, the fans were left to reflect on another midweek stumble.

Royals boss Steve Clarke was as disappointed as anyone else with the second home smash-and-grab defeat in eight days, but still found some crumbs of comfort. Meanwhile, Chelsea’s Dutch defender Nathan Aké, who has been on loan at Reading for the past month, has returned to Stamford Bridge - with a message of thanks to the Royals. Aké played his last game for the club against Birmingham - here is the Match Picture Gallery.




WHEN Reading FC manager Steve Clarke said his team had a real chance of reaching the FA Cup final for the first time ever by knocking over the mighty Arsenal, very few believed him. Not even the most Loyal Royal among the 32,000 Reading fans at Wembley for the semi-final dared to dream that dream. Arsenal, after all, are acknowledged as the best pure footballing side in the country, and came into the game on the back of eight straight wins, including battering Liverpool. But Reading took them all the way to halfway through added time before they finally succumbed - and then only on the back of a tragic error. Goalkeeper Adam Federici, the club's longest-serving player, and truly loyal servant, made the worst howler of his distinguished career to gift Arsenal the goal which finally tipped the scales right at the end of the first period of extra time.

Alexis Sanchez, who earlier had given Arsenal the lead, cut in from the left and drove the ball hard and low at the near post. It should have been a routine save, but instead it slithered right through the Aussie keeper's legs and just over the line. It was an absolute tragedy for him and a team which had given so much to exceed all expectations. Arguably, Arsenal were lucky to achieve extra time. On 54 minutes, Garath McCleary had equalised the first Sanchez goal, which had come just before the break. G-Mac's bobbling volley from Pavel Pogrebnyak's left wing cross bobbled out of Wojciech Szczesny's grasp and over the line. And Reading went on to dominate the half.

For someone like Reading to get a result against a team of Arsenal's elite quality they not only need to play superbly well, but also to get a fair crack from the referee and linesmen. They didn't get that on three key occasions. In the first half, at 0-0, Jamie Mackie was flagged offside on a clear run to goal and it was a wrong decision. In the second half, at 1-1, Pogrebnyak was played clear on goal and flagged offside - another wrong decision. Still at 1-1, Hal Robson-Kanu cut in from the left, and his cross was blocked by the arm of Mathieu Debuchy inside the penalty area. It rebounded to HRK who tried to cross again, and again it was blocked by the arm of Debuchy. Unfortunately it was on a half of the pitch with no linesman, and referee Martin Atkinson must have been unsighted, because the second one, certainly, looked a nailed-on penalty.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger hinted that Reading's "aggression" upset his players, a view scoffed at by the BBC TV panel of Gary Lineker, Alan Shearer, Ian Wright and Jason Roberts, who were unanimous that the day, if not the result, belonged to Reading. In fairness, Arsenal hit the woodwork twice, but considering the quality of their attackers, enormous credit is due to Reading for the way they handled them. So it was a third successive gallant Wembley defeat for the club after the 1995 and 2011 play-off finals. The saddest sight, though, at the end, was Adam Federici breaking down in tears and being comforted by the Reading coaching staff. Of all the people to blow the club's chance of a first-ever FA Cup final it had to be him. REACTIONS AND COMMENTS from the two managers. MATCH GALLERY from the RFC website.

CLICK YOUR CHOSEN WEBSITE FOR THEIR CONTENT

Trinity Mirror-owned former Reading evening newspaper, the Post, has now been consigned to publishing history - T.M. decided the way forward is only via its getreading website.
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The oldest - now only - newspaper in the Reading, started life in the early 1800s as the Berkshire Chronicle - now a local subsidiary of Scottish-based Romanes Media Group.
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First published in 1885 as the Henley Free Press, the locally-owned Henley Standard has been a front-runner in the electronic era with some consistently lively multi-media output.
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The Newbury Weekly News was first published in 1867 but was among the first locally to embrace the internet with extensive coverage under its Newbury Today brand.
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The Wokingham Times was that area's longest-established newspaper, but is no more. Website, getwokingham, styled like Reading stable-mate getreading is now the only outlet.
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The stable-mate of the Reading Chronicle and the Slough Observer has been serving south-east Berkshire for 50+ years and its website keeps up well with the news from its patch.
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First published in 1869 and once had an enviable circulation larger than the town's population - still thriving and fiercely independent, it is also fully multi-media.
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Founded in 1812, and apart from a brief spell, the Express remained a family independent. It is again, acquired in 2008 by family-owned Baylis Media Ltd of the Maidenhead Advertiser.
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Founded in 1878, the Basingstoke Gazette went through it's first 99 years family-owned. Today, owned by Newsquest - part of the multi-media American-based giant Gannett.
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BBC Radio Berkshire has the benefit of Government funding for its county-wide broadcast and multi-media coverage - website perhaps not the powerhouse it should be.
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After many name and image changes, the south's commercial TV operation has found stability. It has a good website - plus TV from Fred Dinenage and Reading's Sangeeta Bhabra.
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Reading's "community" radio station, previously part of Sir John Madejski's empire, has a lively site, with news, and features about its output. Now part of the zany Jack FM brand.
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Reading Borough Council has spruced up its PR and corporate multi-media in recent years and issues frequent media news releases on the key community subjects.
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The University of Reading, in its 111th year, is in the top one percent of uni's worldwide, and its frequent news releases reflect its highly-acclaimed research work.
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A hyperlocal news operation with focus on positive people-led stories that, publishers say "will encourage, inform and inspire." Planning a new newspaper for Wokingham area.
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There are several "Readings" in the USA - best-known is 88,000-population Reading city northwest of Philadelphia - it's local paper is the Eagle, backed up by its dot.com version.
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From another "Reading, USA", 16 miles north of Boston is The Advocate newspaper which feeds an excellent news service into its equally-excellent website, named Wicked Local.
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News aggregator which trawls the www for any story with the word "Reading", so can occasionally throw up book-reading topics - but it's a good source of interesting items.
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B-Europe.co.uk - London To Europe By Train

CLICK CHOSEN CLUB LOGO TO LINK TO THEIR LATEST INFO

Keep up to date with all things Royal - info about the club, the team, tickets, souvenirs and more, including interviews and subscription video.
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Unofficial Reading FC website with plenty of well-written comment, positive and negative - but always constructive. Named after the old "Home End" at Elm Park.
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More than 200 former Reading players and managers are in the Association - the website has interesting info about great names of Royals' and Biscuitmen's past.
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Reading's adopted top-flight Rugby Union team, survived two recent relegation scares - but better times are likely to be ahead after new investment.
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Reading's most consistently-successful sports club runs 11 men’s and seven ladies’ teams. Elite squads at the top of the domestic game and many international stars.
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Reading Cricket Club operates in tandem with the adjacent Reading Hockey Club, providing a two-pronged elite sports operation at the extensive Sonning Lane site.
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The club performs solidly in the National South West Division One (East) alongside Newbury. Founded in 1898 as Berkshire Wanderers, they still field a Wanderers XV.
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Originally for youngsters from non-rugby-playing schools, Abbey went senior in 1956, acquired a 22-acre site at Emmer Green and are now successful.
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Founded in 1926, and now nicknamed The Rams, Redingensians was originally for former pupils of Reading School. Runs teams in all age groups at its Sonning HQ.
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Has promoted cycling in Berkshire since 1974. With over 200 members, it is dedicated to giving cyclists the opportunity to race, ride and enjoy two-wheel life.
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The club has a long and proud history with past Olympic stars such as Ann Packer, Bev Callender and Britain's most successful-ever female sprinter, Kathy Smallwood.
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Provides after school clubs, school holiday courses, birthday parties and much, much more for boys and girls from the age of 5-14, in and around Reading.
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A friendly community rowing club located on one of the best stretches of the upper Thames, with access to 6km of river from Caversham Bridge to Mapledurham.
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Founded as recently as 1997, the Rockets had such spectacular lift-off that they now run age-group, ladies and seniors teams and are among Britain's best.
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The legendary (and still going strong at 81) Reg Fearman brought Speedway to Reading in 1968. Smallmead closed in 2008 but Racers faithful still have a website.

AND OTHER SENIOR SPORTS CLUBS AND VENUES NEARBY…

The Magpies have an extremely proud, and unique football boast - their York Road ground is the world's oldest football ground used continuously by the same club.
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Basingstoke share Maidenhead's status in Conference South - and they have some lively local derbies. Mascot Stokie is even taller than a certain Kingsley Royal!
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Few sporting venues match the history or rich heritage of Ascot. Queen Anne, staying at Windsor Castle in 1711 who first saw the potential for a racecourse.
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Newbury Racecourse is more than 100 years old, combining heritage with a modern sports/events venue. Constructed in 1904/05 - at a cost of £57,240!
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Although the local area has racing links to dating back to Henry VIII, the first race meeting here was not until 1866. The only figure-of-eight flat course in the country.
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Ice Hockey has been thriving in Bracknell for many years, with Bees playing home games at the John Nike Leisure Centre. Ambitious new team management in place.
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The Hawks are one of the leading clubs in the Thames Valley, among the top 50 in the country, and currently chasing promotion from National Division 2 South.
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Bracknell RFC has an illustrious pedigree, founded in 1955 by Welsh and Cornish men new to the New Town area. 2012/13 champs of South West Division One (East).
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The Blues, a focal point for the West Berkshire rugby community, are always competitive in South West Division One (East).
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News from The Reading Guide
31/12/2012 CLICK HERE > > > > >
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29/12/2012 BREAKING NEWS: LINKS TO THE TOP LOCAL SOURCES - AND READING USA
28/12/2012 SPORTS NEWS LINKS: CLICK FOR THE LATEST FROM THE ROYALS, IRISH AND OTHER CLUBS
12/01/2010 YOUR CHANCE TO CATCH UP WITH TV PROGRAMMES YOU MAY HAVE MISSED - THE FULL SET

Reader Poll
READING FC have gone into partnership with the Turkish club Galatasaray in a move designed to further the interests of both clubs. Is this link a good idea?

Poll started 27/02/2013. Vote to see the results.
      YES - Galatasaray is one of the giant clubs in Europe and to be in partnership with them is a massively prestigious step. Royals can swap scouting ideas, tactics and commercial information.

      NO - It has disaster written all over it. Galatasaray may be a big club, but it has a tarnished reputation for the behaviour of some of its fans. What happens when the Royals next play Leeds who had fans killed in Istanbul in 2000?

What's On - 26th APR 2015
Leisure, Cinemas
CINEMA LISTINGS - WHAT'S SHOWING WHERE AND WHEN IN READING

Leisure, Exhibitions
BRICKS IN MOTION AT MILESTONES MUSEUM

Leisure, Exhibitions
WALLINGFORD'S ROYAL CASTLE REVEALED

Leisure, Museums
THAMES STORIES - ART AND ARCHAEOLOGY

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DEAD OF NIGHT

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THOMAS HARDY'S FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD

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FROST-NIXON - BY PETER MORGAN

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RADIO TIMES

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READING CONTEMPORARY ART FAIR

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MERL GUIDED TOUR

Local Information,
STUBBINGS HOUSE GARDEN OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

Local Information,
READING CONTEMPORARY ART FAIR

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BITESIZE OPERA - MOZART SERIES

Leisure, Theatre
STAND-UP BY ROYAL APPOINTMENT

Local Information,
OPEN GARDENS AT STOCKCROSS - IN AID OF NGS

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BELLOWHEAD

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FRANK YAMMA

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MATT FORDE - 24-HOUR POLITICAL PARTY PEOPLE

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STONOR PARK OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

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CANAL BOAT HOLIDAY OPEN DAY

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