Two fanatical Reading fans have been given a “once in a lifetime opportunity” to take part in the upcoming Royals legends match.

Steve Emberson and Jamie Hodder, both season ticket holders at the SCL Stadium for many years, attended the end of season gala and bid on a silent auction, raising vital money for charity, with the prize of running out on the hallowed turf the ultimate prize.


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With excitement and trepidation coursing through their veins, it was actually a something else flowing through their body that gave them the courage to bid, alcohol.

Speaking to the Reading Chronicle, Mr Emberson said: “Being at the gala dinner was fantastic and having that opportunity wasn’t something I was going to pass up. It was something I wanted to do, even if a sober person might not have bid that much.

“When it was confirmed, I was on top of the world. It was like I’d won the lottery.”

“Maybe the alcohol helped,” Mr Hodder added. “But it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

With the match now less than 24 hours away, the feelings are beginning to dawn on the two players, although the nerves don’t quite out-weigh the excitement.

“I’m so nervous,” Mr Hodder started. “I’ve not played football for a good few years and I’m not as fit as I used to be but I’m hoping the excitement with push me. It’s unlikely to ever happen again so I’m going to give my all for my ‘teammates’.

Along similar lines of thought, Mr Emberson is a bag of nerves ahead of the big kick-off.

“It’s a mix of nervousness and excitement,” he commented. “The adrenalin is up and down, we’re coming to the last couple of days now so it’s coming in waves but it’s all the things I strive for, I love that feeling, weirdly.”

And of course, the big question will always remain- what team would they choose to play on if they get the chance?

Mr Emberson was quite certain of his pick, Steve Coppell’s record-breaking 2005/06 side.

Reading Chronicle:

Above: Steve Emberson [left] in 1979- his first Royals shirt


“I would choose the Coppell team if I could,” he stated. “Because I loved the team mentality from that squad, right the way through to finishing eighth in the Premier League. We felt local even though we were in the Premiership and that we were all together, on and off the pitch.”

Agreeing that the 2005/06 team would be ‘special’, Mr Hodder has been thinking about it from a slightly more tactical perspective.

“They’re the first team to be promoted to the Premier League, so that would be special, especially having Steve Coppell as my manager. But having said that, the 2011/12 have some players who are still playing so maybe they could do a bit more of my running?

“Either way I’ll be honoured to pull on the shirt and play with some legends of our history,” he summed up.

With tickets selling well, many are expected to turn up at the SCL Stadium and enjoy a trip down memory way.


Reading Chronicle:

Above: Jamie Hodder with the two managers


Both players cannot wait, and more importantly are just there to enjoy themselves.

Mr Emberson concluded: “I can’t wait for the whole thing, getting there, seeing the players walk in, walking out the tunnel, putting on the kit, go out and run around on the grass- that all counts much more than how much I play or how much of a fool I make of myself.”

Similarly, Mr Hodder said: “I can’t wait to warm up with my team with the pressure off. I can’t wait to come on the pitch and I’m going to do everything I can to try and get a shot on target.”