In celebration of Reading Football Club's 150th anniversary, The Reading Chronicle spoke with 15 figures from the Reading community, past and present, to find out above all one thing: What makes Reading FC special?

Phil Parkinson



Appearances: 415

During my time at Reading, it was always a very well run club and it was a club at the heart of the community as well. I think like a lot of football clubs in the country, the success of the club is so important for the people in the area.

It was great to be part of some good times where you could see how the football club helped galvanise the area. I enjoyed being a part of that. And also the transition from Elm Park to the Madejski Stadium really realised the potential of the support which there was at Reading.

Reading Chronicle: An animated Phil Parkinson during the 2001/02 season. Image by: PAAn animated Phil Parkinson during the 2001/02 season. Image by: PA

My memories of a couple of promotions, but also being involved in playoff finals…the support. One of my biggest memories, even though I was injured, was the (1995) playoff final against Bolton. When the coach turned up at Wembley, just seeing the thousands of Reading fans lining Wembley Way was a moment that really made the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.

We’d been away to Lanzarote in preparation for that game and we kind of almost were shielded from the magnitude of the support. Everyone at Reading was behind the team. There are lots of special moments and the Reading fans certainly come out in numbers.

There are people working behind the scenes who were there when I was a player and that’s what football clubs are all about. They’re about the people who work at the club, they’re the life-blood of the club. But more importantly, the supporters who stick with the football club through the good times and the bad times. The Reading supporters who were there in the Elm Park days, fully deserved the success when the club eventually got into the Premiership. 

Reading Chronicle: Phil Parkinson in one of his 415 appearances for the club. Image by: PAPhil Parkinson in one of his 415 appearances for the club. Image by: PA

The people who’ve supported the club for a lot of years…and I’ve got so many friends who’ve supported the club for a long time, who are season-ticket holders for many years. As great as it is for the players who you played with, in those eras, to discuss those times, it’s equally good to have those memories with the supporters as well.

Stand-out memory:

It’s difficult to choose but I think the first promotion under Mark McGhee when we beat Brighton at Elm Park. I always remember that as a very special day. We’d been at the top for quite a long time and as we got near to the finish line the tension was building. And then we beat Brighton to get promotion.

And the other game I’ll never forget was Brentford away in a similar scenario under Alan Pardew where we’d been at the top of League One for quite a while, we’d lost the playoff final the year before, and we just could not finish the job off. We had to go to Brentford and if they’d won they’d have gotten promoted and we needed to draw. We managed to get the draw through a Jamie Cureton goal.

Reading Chronicle: Reading fans celebrate Jamie Cureton's equaliser against Brentford. Image by: PAReading fans celebrate Jamie Cureton's equaliser against Brentford. Image by: PA

We came back to the Madejski Stadium and there were thousands of fans waiting for the coach. I think those two - and obviously from a personal point of view, having a testimonial at the club - so probably three highlights really.

I was at the club for 11 years, my children were born in Reading, some of my best friends remain people who live in the area. So some great memories I shared, not just with the players, but with the supporters who lived through it all with you. Some great memories. And equally a lot of the players from those teams are still great friends of mine, I keep in touch with a lot of those players from that era.

Click here to read all of our 15 for 150 interviews