Ahead of tomorrow's fierce clash at the Madejski, Keith Ingham spoke to Royals Fan Antony Strange about all things Reading and his time as a fan.
Tell us a bit about yourself and how long you've been a fan.
I am Antony Strange, I'm 17 years old and I've been supporting Reading since about 2009, and have been a season ticket holder at the madejski stadium since the beginning of the 2015/16 season. I also attend as many away games as possible and the furthest I've travelled for football this season is to Deepdale in Preston.
Who are your favourite Reading players of all time?
My favourite Reading players of all time would be players such as Jem Karacan, Jimmy Kebe, Shane Long and Adam Le-Fondre however in a whole growing up in a house full of Liverpool fans, I've always liked Steven Gerrard and in my earlier football days, I looked up to Fernando Torres.
What has been your favourite era as a fan?
The greatest era for me as a Reading fan would be our 2012 promotion to the premier league, we had a team similar to the one we have now in that it doesn't stand out on paper but was always able to compete and win games although in more recent times, we've had a couple of good FA CUP runs , reaching the semi-final and quarter-final in the last two seasons are times I'll look back on with good memories.
What has been your most memorable game?
There are a few games I'll never forget like the quarter-final of the FA cup against Bradford (winning 3-0), the semi final against Arsenal at Wembley (losing 2-1), and recently our away day at Ashton gate, where we came back from two down on 70 minutes to win the game 3-2.
Who are your biggest rivals?
This is a horrible question for a reading fan because we don't really have one, we have a degree of hatred for Swindon but evidentally they're not too bothered about us as they are more interested in their rivalry with Oxford. Some people say we have a rivalry with the London clubs like Fulham and Brentford but I think that's a bit far fetched and actually our biggest rival is probably QPR as a result of the blue and white hoops argument and the fact we are situated reasonably close to each other.
Who have been your stand out players this season?
The stand out players for us this season are undoubtedly Ali Al-Habsi and Liam Moore. Without Moore in the side we have lost 3-0 to Preston, and 5-0 to Fulham, this shows just how important he is. Ali Al-Habsi is without a doubt the best keeper in the league, ok his distribution can sometimes cause us problems but his shot-stopping is incredible as we saw in our 2-0 win at Hillsborough.
Are you impressed with your current performance this season?
I think both Reading and Leeds have had similar seasons in that nobody expected anything of either side back in August as our teams don't exactly stand out on paper. However for both sides, a brilliant manager is in charge and that's one of the key reasons for the success of Leeds and Reading this season. However if the season started again I don't personally think we (Reading) would be as high as we are.
Who is your Championship team if the season?
My team of the season (4-4-2)
GK Al-Habsi (Reading)
RB Bruno (Brighton)
CB Jansson (Leeds)
CB Moore (Reading)
LB Malone (Fulham)
RM Knockeart (Brighton)
CM Mooy (Huddersfield)
CM Hourihane (Barnsley/Aston Villa)
LM Cairney (Fulham)
ST Wood (Leeds)
ST Gayle (Newcastle)
What is your top 6 prediction?
What's your prediction for the end of the season?
I'd love to say I think Reading will win the play-offs but that would be lying. I think If my top 6 prediction is correct then Leeds will be in the prem next season however If Wednesday make it into the play offs then they could have a good chance of winning it. In my prediction, all the teams in the play-offs have been hanging around the bottom half of the table for the past couple of years so that's a big statement for all of their seasons but currently I think on the pitch and on paper leeds have the strongest side out of the four so Im backing them for promotion via the play-offs this year.
We'd like to thank Antony for taking the time to answer our questions and wish him best of luck for the rest of the season.
By Keith Ingham
With the 25th anniversary of Leeds United becoming the last true English champions, Keith Ingham got the chance to speak to a player that was there to see it all, Jon Newsome.
The towering defender was the man to score against Sheffield United and Tottenham as Sergeant Wilko's boys clinched the title. Here's what he had to say;
Jon, you were part of the Championship winning side of 1992 does it seem 25 years since that incredible season?
Doesn't seem 25 years ago, time really does fly but that day will be forever etched in my memory.
What was it like working under 'Sergeant Wilko'?
I'd been an apprentice under Howard and Mick Hennigan at Sheff Wed so when they came in for me I knew exactly what to expect. Howard was very methodical, every small detail was taken care of and his record speaks for itself.
Who were your best mates during your time at Leeds?
Gary Speed, Chris Fairclough, Chris Whyte.....but we were a very close dressing room, one of, if not the best I was involved in.
As we all know you headed in Gary Mac's cross to score in that never to be forgotten game with Sheffield United, is it the best game you've played in or does another stand out more?
It was definitely one of the most unusual, a windy blustery day, a bobbly pitch and all to play for. One of the best days of my life if I'm honest
Were you sad to leave Leeds?
Yes, I was disappointed when Howard told me they'd accepted an offer from Norwich but once I decided to go and have talks with them I only looked forward and positively.
Strangest thing you've witnessed during a game?
Coventry away last game of season and crowd were going to invade the pitch. Ref said to us all, kick it out for a corner, all get up here and i'll blow the whistle and leg it! That or Benitto Carbonni being subbed so he could catch his flight!!
Eric Cantona - genius or maverick?
I'll let you decide !!
Top two and three to drop out of the Championship?
Rotherham, Wigan Bristol City
You've played for Wednesday and Leeds, who do you see going the farthest in the playoffs, if they both finish in the top six?
Its going to be a really tight race to get into the play offs this year, Sheff Wed will have it all to do if their injury list keeps growing but who can say. Its about getting and grinding out a win and that is based on a solid defensive unit in my opinion.
Thank you so much Jon and I'll never forget your goal or the day we won the Championship.
If you'd like to talk about your time as a fan or talk about your first game then get in touch on the contact section or tweet @weallloveleedsu with the hashtag #mystory.
By Keith Ingham
My love of sport, especially football stems from my father. He was a successful amateur cyclist and played snooker in a local league. Match of the Day was on every week and, in the 1960s, I became aware of Leeds United.
My dad was an armchair supporter, his cycling training and family commitments didn’t allow for trips to Elland Road, but the seed was sown. Watching England win the World Cup was a pivotal moment, especially with big Jack Charlton in the team.
In the early 70s I was persuaded to go to Elland Road. Now two things were holding me back. Football violence was at its worst and just travelling to a game wasn’t without its problems. I was also a tiny slip of a girl in my late teens. My first game was in 1971, Leeds v Liverpool. Standing in the scratching shed I could barely see a thing. However when something exciting happened, like Peter Lorimer scoring the winning goal, I disappear over the top of the crowd. I loved it! Cut to 2017 and I am a season ticket holder in the more sedate West Stand.
My all-time favourite player is Billy Bremner. It is hard to describe the commitment, talent and effort he gave to the club. He turned down two of the biggest clubs – Arsenal and Chelsea, to come to Leeds. Once describe in the Sunday Times as “10 stone of barbed wire”, the diminutive Billy ripped opposition apart. If only you could have bottled the essence of that man!
Having seen that amazing squad play it is hard to pick out other players as favourites, but two do spring to mind.
Lucas Radebe is one and Alan Smith is the other. Lucas Radebe was a formidable player but an absolute gentleman of the pitch. Alan Smith was Leeds United and I loved him for it. Many will disagree with me because of where he went to after the financial meltdown happened but I will always hold a soft spot for him.
Now a pensioner (how did that happen so quickly?) I still get excited waking up on a match day. Knowing I’m going to Elland Road or an away game. That excitement never diminishes.
I have sat through some awful League One games on a freezing Tuesday night but I would never give it up. I didn’t attend many games in the 70s and 80s but attended more in the 90s. This was an exciting time to follow Leeds especially as my two children often went with me. My son is an avid fan too and my daughter’s boyfriend is a Leeds fan so that is fine. The 90s saw one of the best midfields we have ever had – McAllister, Batty, Speed and Strachan. They were a joy to watch.
I have been lucky to see many great games in person and on the TV. Two favourites are the game against Manchester United in 1972 when Leeds won 5-1. Pure joy! The other game which I watch regularly is Leeds V Liverpool 2000 when Mark Viduka scored all the goals in a thrilling 4-3 win. If I want to cheer myself up I put that game on.
Leeds away games can be some of the best days out, and some of the worst. I don’t get to as many as I would like because my husband works Saturday mornings in school time. We also used to have a dairy herd and the cows had to come first. The most impressive stadium I have been to is the Etihad, it’s a stunner! I also liked going to the Riverside in Middlesbrough. We didn’t lose many games there. Oakwell is my least favourite, just for its setup and the fact Barnsley have a habit of beating us.
Massimo Cellino saint or sinner? For me he is both. I appreciate the sorting out of the finances and the investment in players. I was disappointed in January when no striker was brought in. I feel we rely on Chris Wood too much. I pray every night for his wellbeing. As fans we have no say in who owns the club so I feel we have to make the best of it. I choose to put my money into Leeds United. There was a time when the club nearly disappeared altogether and that is the worst thing that could have happened. I will take an owner with a risqué past over no owner.
Garry Monk, what can I say? WOW, hasn’t he done an amazing job in a very short space of time. I was fearful in the early days that he may be sacked as the results were poor but I’m so glad he is still with us. I think the cup game against Norwich was a huge turning point. Driving in I heard the team announcement and my heart sank. However it turned out to be an amazing night and I was so proud of my team by the end of the game. There was a real sense of being a team and I knew then something special was happening. Garry has certainly been the best manager since Simon Grayson. I think the appointment of Mr Hockaday was a particular low in the club’s history. What a lack of ambition that appointment was.
I am hopeful we will be in the top six come the end of the season. I expect Newcastle to go up but feel it could be Huddersfield who sneak into second into the second spot. The next few games are going to challenge us. We are blessed this season with a fantastic back line. Luke Ayling has to be bargain of the season. It is wonderful to see us defend so well. The warrior Beradi has had a great season too. We have ground out some good results through grit and determination. As a fan that is all I ask of my team. Like all Leeds fans I want the promotion and this is the closest we have been to it in years.
Anyone at the Derby game in January could see the potential we have. It was a fantastic performance. I know our history with playoff finals is dire but we have broken some curses in recent times e.g. last season wins home and away against Cardiff. Hadn’t happened in over 30 years. Can you imagine the 12th man at Wembley cheering the team on to victory? I can.
By Gill Ward
Gary Rowett agrees to become Derby County's third manager of the 2016/17 season, his contract runs until the end of the 2017/18 season.
Mark Warburton takes the manger's job at Nottingham Forest, he brings in his backroom staff of David Weir and Frank McParland. His first game in charge will be against Derby County at the City Ground.
Should be interesting!
Garry Monk explained that Gaetano Berardi's exceptional form prior to Charlie Taylor's return to fitness was the reason why the popular full back kept his place against QPR, Monk explained "Berra's been fantastic, Luke Ayling too, Charlie also did well at Fulham. A little bit of this is about looking after Charlie but I made the decision, that's what I have to do and there's no problem whatsoever."
Leicester City, after the embarrassing sacking of Claudio Ranieri reach the Quarter Finals of the Champions League with a 2-0 win over Sevilla to go through 3-2 on aggregate.
Blackburn deny Fulham with a injury time goal from Joao at Craven Cottage, it ended 2-2 with Rovers coming from behind twice. Fulham would have gone sixth with a win, they remain five points behind Leeds with 37 games played.
This day, thirty years ago Leeds United beat Wigan Athletic 2-0 at Springfield Park to reach the Semi Final of the FA Cup.
On this day in 1967, the biggest ever crowd at Elland Road 57,896 watched the FA Cup tie against Sunderland in a game that finished 1-1
Garry Monk's look at the game with Promotion hopefuls: Coyle and Denton out injured, Ayling and Phillips suspended, players have trained really well, prepared and looking forward to the game (with Brighton), players must enjoy the game, players gave everything against QPR but were frustrated with the result, always looking to improve, expects more to come from the squad, on the fans for season run-in: "It's time to crank up the noise. It's us against everyone else."
Up and 'at em' Monk.
Liam Bridcutt is open to extend his contract when his initial one ends "Id love to stay at this club as long as I can and I would be happy to finish my career here."
Aitor Karanka sacked by Middlesborough, the Teeside club have yet to win a game in 2017 and are expected to be relegated from the Premier League in May.
On this day in 1961.
Don Revie became manager of Leeds United FC, the rest is history and Don will never be forgotten by the faithful.
Over 300 Super League games refereed and one of the most respected in his field, Richard Silverwood talks to us about his boyhood club and his hopes for the season.
What were your first games watching Leeds home and away?
First started watching a few games in 1987. Wigan v Leeds in a FA Cup game at Springfield Park i recall one of them. Leeds winning 0-2. John Stiles and Mickey Adams scoring.
My uncle Stuart Silverwood was an apprentice at Leeds in the Bremner era so i grew up with Leeds due to him. He never made first team but he loved the club.
Who have been some of your favourite players to grace the pitch at Elland Road?
What is the era you consider the best in your time as a supporter?
Id say early 2000 when we had a really good side but overspent.
What is the greatest game you've seen at Elland Road?
2000. Leeds winning at home to Tottenham 4-3 or Leeds beating Milan at home 1-0
As you were a Rugby League referee have players ever mentioned your support of Leeds or did they never know?
No not really. It was only when i started on Twitter a few years ago that people knew. I then got always knew you were a leeds fan in reference to the Rhinos.
Funniest thing you've seen whilst in charge of a game?
Probably not the funniest but the strangest was 2010 in New Zealand. I was refereeing New Zealand v Australia at Eden Park when Australia score early on. The stand behind the posts must hold 5 to 7000 people which is all open with no roof. When i gave the try it must have been every supporter in the stand through a plastic beer bottle onto the pitch. Was a crazy scene. A shower of bottles flying over us. Never seen anything like it. It took a while to start the game again.
Your thoughts on the 2016/17 season so far and Garry Monk?
Monk has done a fantastic job. I really like is manner and how grounded he is and how he works his players. He seems to have been left to do the job which has not been the case in the past with Cellino. We have got into a great position. We just need to up it now for the last 9 games as other teams are hot on our tails now and we cant be drawing too many.
Top two and three for the drop in the Championship?
Newcastle and Brighton will go up.
Rotherham, Wigan and Burton go down.
Do you think Leeds will get through the playoffs and go on to win at Wembley?
They have a massive chance. Would love a Leeds v Huddersfield final. I just have a concern with our midfield at the moment. We arent firing like we should be.
We'd like to that Richard for taking the time to do the interview and wish him the best in all his future endeavours.
By Keith Ingham
- Leeds have lost their last 6 encounters against Brighton.
- Last win Aug 2013; 2-1 Luke Murphy last minute goal.
- Glenn Murray is behind Chris Wood in the scoring rankings. Currently joint second on 14 with Tammy Abraham.
- Leeds have won 20 games this season. More than their previous 6 seasons!
- Knockheart has contributed to 9 goals in 9 games for Brighton.
Leeds vs Brighton: LLLLL
At home to Brighton: LWLLL
Leeds XI: Green, Berardi, Bartley, Cooper, Taylor, Bridcutt, Vieira, Sacko, Hernandez, Pedraza, Wood
Subs: Silvestri, Roofe, Doukara, O’Kane, Dallas, Jansson, Barrow
Brighton XI: Stockdale, Rosenior, Dunk, Hunemeier, Tomori, Skalak, Kayal, Stephens, Knockheart, Murray, Baldock
Subs: Maenpaa, Hemed, Sidwell, March, Norwood, Akpom, White
A majestic performance from Leeds United saw the club claim a 2-0 win against second placed Brighton and Hove Albion.
Leeds started the game well and controlled the possession in the first 10 minutes and had two great opportunities on the counter attack with a misplaced pass and an offside preventing Wood to take the chance.
Leeds keeper Rob Green was then called into action when a low cross from Rosenior was deflected by a Leeds defender before a miraculous save pushed the ball away from a certain goal.
It wasn’t until the 60th minute that Leeds found a real chance to gain a foothold in the game with a wild ball into the box from Berardi found Wood in the 6 yard box, only for the striker to poke the ball right at Stockdale.
That wouldn't be the end of it though as Charlie Taylor showed his immense attacking ability by driving the ball past two Brighton players before crossing the ball from the byline. An onrushing Chris Wood was then able to guide to the ball past a sprawling David Stockdale into the top left corner.
Brighton nearly equalised instantaneously as Sam Baldock was found unmarked from a corner but his diving header couldn’t reach the ball inside the 6 yard box.
Solly March was then introduced for the visitors and the left midfielder terrorised Leeds’ right hand side. Brighton should have been back in the game with a chance for an unmarked Glenn Murray who’s ferocious strike was brilliantly parried away by Rob Green.
Stand out left midfielder Alfonso Pedraza was then taken off and received a standing ovation as he left the field to be replaced by Souleymane Doukara. The young Spaniard was one of the standout players for Leeds in the game and remained a constant threat when called into action.
Garry Monk then saw the fruits of his changes as Stuart Dallas who had replaced Sacko on the right helped out Berardi to quell the onslaught from March. His other substitution Doukara then rewarded his managers faith in him by bursting in the box before being fouled by Tomori; Leeds Penalty.
Up stood Chris Wood to make his 21st league goal of the season by sending Stockdale the wrong way and wheeling off into the south stand to celebrate
-Monk: Going into international break with a win is nice. Team prepared well this week, excellent performance against a tough team who have had a fantastic season.
Rob Green, great save off Liam Cooper. Delighted for new deal, deserved it. Top professional, experienced and a great keeper. Deserves the praise he's getting right now but very focussed.
No Jansson; Monk does what's best for the group. Picks the team that's best suited. Who'll deliver the principles that they work to. When picking the team it's what's best for the group and the principles they uphold.Cooper is a top defender, he's improving. Listens and works hard. Excellent performance.
Biggest win as Leeds manager? It's just three points.
- Hughton: Disappointed. First half Leeds were better. Resonantly happy at 0-0. We had 2 or 3 good chances. Better in the second half and a draw would have been a fair result.
On the penalty; no complaints, shame for young lad (Tomori) in his first game for the club.
On chances it was an equal game, just a shame that Leeds took them and we couldn't.
By Ryan Ingham
Ahead of tomorrow's eagerly anticipated top 6 clash between Leeds United and Brighton, I got the chance to speak again with Naz. A fond seagulls fan who I had the pleasure of interviewing in the reverse fixture.
Since our last interview, have your thoughts changed on the automatic places?
Yes, only through the teams I mentioned before. Villa and Norwich out of it. It's now three teams into two, which doesn't go. I think everyone in Sussex is fearing Huddersfield, but at the same time I'd imagine the Newcastle fans are fearing the both of us given their patchy consistency. You could offer me 10/1 on a two team combo to go up and I wouldn't bet my money.
The only thing we have in our favour over Huddersfield is goal difference. That's massive as that's what cost us last season.
Is your love for Anthony Knockheart still going strong?
Yes, Knockaert is unbelievable. What's been great is the support around him. I mentioned Murray in the previous interview, but Baldock has really stepped up in the last couple of months, as has Murphy, March is back and back in the England under 21 squad and Skalak has performed well in his last couple of games after being dropped. To have four great wingers who all play different types of game is such a strength and Knockaert is just the pick of a very talented bunch.
Who will be your key player on Saturday?
Baldock. He's been instrumental recently and really does help turn defence into attack with his running and his desire. Sounds like a simple thing, but coupled with his talent I think he'll be our key man on Saturday evening. Dunk needs to have a good game as well, with a somewhat makeshift and half fit back four alongside him.
You're currently missing a lot of defenders from your squad, do you have the back ups needed?
Yes, I think we do, I think we have enough for the home games certainly. I've seen that Bruno is now passed fit which is massive for us because he is absolutely unreal at RB even at 36 years of age, and just signed a new contract which is well deserved.
Our 4th choice CB has come in and helped us to successive clean sheets against Rotherham and Derby. It was heartbreaking to lose Goldson to a heart problem the day after the transfer window shut but Huhnemeier has silenced any doubts with his performances.
Who is your manager of the year?
Gianfranco Zola. To do what he's done with that Birmingham team from when he took over, it shows his class. The Birmingham board made a great decision and their fans should rightly be proud of the way their club is being run. Steve McClaren would be a close 2nd, he was unlucky to get the sack as I felt he did a great job with a side clearly built on a shoestring budget.
Who is your team of the season?
I can't possibly be objective with this. There's a lot of top players, I'd say back 5 would be Stockdale, Sessegnon, Jansson, Duffy, Bruno. Midfield would be Ritchie, Hourihane, Stephens and Knockaert, and then Gayle and Wood up front. Apologies for missing out anyone your readers would have preferred.
Also a shout of for Sone Aluko who would give Ritchie a battle for the other wing spot, whenever I've seen him this season he's been on fire.
What's your prediction for Saturday?
2-2. I fancy an entertaining game with goals, given Ayling being out for you I fancy that to disrupt your defence as much as ours is disrupted. I'd take any draw away from home against you right now, get that extra point on the board away and then our home games will take us to 90 if we win them.
Whatever happens, I wish you good luck for the season, although geographically if we go up automatically i'd want Reading to win the playoffs!
We'd like to wish Naz the best of luck for the season and hope to see both ourselves and Brighton promoted over the dog botherers this season.
By Ryan Ingham
As always after a Championship game, Heidi Haigh reflects on the three points gained at St Andrews
Thank you Heidi, as always a superb read, this time on a Sunday.
This day a game that long live in my memory, the opponents Anderlecht, the year 1975.
On a foggy evening under the floodlights of Elland Road Leeds beat the Belgium Champions 3-0 in the 3rd Round of the European Cup. I remember during the game a chant came up "Eee I angio who scored the goal. Classic!
Talisman: A lucky charm or something/someone that brings good fortune.
Need I say more?
Chris Wood was named in the EFL Championship team of the week.
Leeds have won 20 games in the @SkybetChamp this season, the most in a single campaign since 2005-06 (21).
Thanks to @LUFCDATA
Fulham vs Leeds
Last five games
Fulham 1 Leeds 1 Champ Oct 15
Fulham 0 Leeds 3 Champ Mar 15
Fulham 2 Leeds 0 Premier Mar 04
Fulham 1 Leeds 0 Premier Dec 02
Fulham 0 Leeds 0 Premier Dec 01
Leeds face, in my opinion the best side I've seen at Elland Road this season, Leeds grabbed a late equaliser through Chris Wood to claim a point back in August.
Leeds weren't playing well but Fulham were, so this game is probably the toughest game we've played away since our visit to Huddersfield.
Garry Monk must decide if Kalvin Phillips and Alfonso Pedraza deserve a start after they both impressed as second half substitutes at Birmingham.
I'd settle for a point and I think we'll get one. 1-1