For Reading Nostalgia this week, we are going back to the start of 2001 to focus on how the Royals were getting up to.

Looking back to January and February 2001, Reading saw the resurgence of their full-back, Stuart Gary, who had been out of the Royals frame for quite some time.

In three years at the club, he only played a total of 64 games with five coming in his final season.

However, after returning to the team at the start of the second year of the century, Gray put in some impressive performances which included keeping three clean sheets in his final three games for the club.

They came in a 0-0 draw away at Stoke City, and in two 1-0 wins over Bristol Rovers and Port Vale.

Fitzroy Simpson nearly joined Reading in Januaru 2001

Fitzroy Simpson nearly joined Reading in Januaru 2001

Alan Pardew, who was manager of the club at the time, said: “He’s been an excellent professional.

“He’s had limited opportunities under me but he’s never moaned or complained as he’s just got on with his work.

“He’s bided his time and he’s getting his reward.”

Gray would leave the club that season after he was loan out to the now-dissolved Rushden & Diamonds for the remainder of that season.

News surrounding the Royals seemed to focus on players needing to prove their work as Pardew urged striker Martin Butler to follow the footsteps of his then teammate, Darren Caskey, to what they can do in training to try and get into the first team.

Despite scoring an impressive 28 goals that season in 54 matches, Butler at the start of 2001 was in and out of the team following a poor run of personal form, which saw him go nine games without a goal in all competitions.

Nicky Foster in action against then PL side, Bradford City

Nicky Foster in action against then PL side, Bradford City

It was a similar situation for Caskey that campaign, as despite bagging 10 strikes in 49 appearances, he was still hot and cold with Pardew’s selections.

Speaking in 2001, Pardew said: “There’s no doubt Martin has been frustrated lately so I’m hoping he gives me the right reaction like Darren Caskey did.

“We’ve got an abundance of talent and it’s difficult to leave players out like him.

“They both did very well and we’re in a fantastic position of having three great strikers, plus Nicky Forster, so competition will be fierce.”

Finally, that time of the Royals’ history saw their popular defender Chris Casper continue his rehabilitation following a lengthy injury lay-off.

Casper, hadn’t played since Boxing Day 1999 when he came off hurt in Reading’s 1-0 away loss at Cardiff City, and despite not playing in well over a year, he gave himself the target of retuning to play in March 2001 for the club’s reserve team.

He said: “I’ve been running and doing a lot of fitness and strenghthing work so hopefully I’ll get the all clear to start joining in training with the academy boys.

“The fracture [to his leg], is still mending and the signs are positive and it’s improving every week.”

Chris Casper

Chris Casper

“It would be great to get some reserves games under my belt before the season ends and then see what happens.”

However, despite the then 25-year-old being full of optimism, he would never play football again due to the severity of the injury and retired in 2002, after failing to regain full fitness.

He would later go into management and won an out-of-court settlement from Richard Carpenter, the Cardiff player whose tackle hurt the ex-Manchester United player, following his premature retirement.

The season also ended in heartbreak for Reading as they missed out on promotion to the First Division, losing the play-off final to Walsall 3-2 at the Millennium Stadium.