Under 23s manager Noel Hunt was one of many former Royals to pay tribute to the late Academy manager Eamonn Dolan, six years on from his premature passing.

Dolan, who had formerly managed Exeter City, arrived in Berkshire in 2004 and oversaw the Academy during a golden age in which the likes of Alex Pearce, Jem Karacan and Simon Church took the club to Premier League promotion.

READ MORE: Former Reading FC stars on Academy success and Eamonn Dolan

Losing his battle with cancer on June 20 2016, the North Stand was named after him and a mural in his memory unveiled on the outer wall of the stand.

39-year-old Hunt, who was coached by Dolan when he stepped in as caretaker manager following the dismissal of Brian McDermott in 2013, now leads the Under-23s at the new Bearwood training complex.

Speaking to the club media on the anniversary of his death, Hunt said: "Everything around here reminds you of Eamonn. There was hardly anyone in this last few weeks, just a few staff, but the players coming back in today is fitting because they would have walked past the big picture of Eamonn smiling and I’m sure he would’ve been a very proud man watching everyone walk back in through the doors.

"There’s no man that would’ve been prouder to see this [Bearwood] than himself. Unfortunately, he didn’t get to see the vision come through but I’m sure he’s here in spirit."

Speaking to the Reading Chronicle earlier in the year, many icons of Royals past have waxed lyrical on the impact Donal had on their careers.

Pearce, who broke through in 2007 before making more than 200 appearances, said: "A lot of credit goes to Eamonn Dolan. The way he grounded us and developed us. He broke us all down and rebuilt us, through the training and the pressure he would put on us.

"He knew that if we wanted a career in the game we would need testing mentally and physically to deal with the pressures you’ll get in football. Everyone who came through, especially at my age group, are very grateful to Eamonn."

Church, who made his debut in 2009 and was a crucial part of the side that won promotion in 2012, referred to him as "another dad" when he spoke to the Reading Chronicle in spring 2022.

Reading Chronicle:

"He was such a massive impact on all of us that came through," he started. "He was like another dad to us. He’d be hard but at the same time he’d put his arm around you and tell you where you need to improve.

"There was a lot of time spent off of the pitch making us into people that are prepared for a life in football; to handle to ups and downs of life as well. I had some family health problems at the time and he was a massive figure in my career, even when I burst into the first team he brought me back to life. It was about much more than being ready to play football, we were growing up as men."

Geoff Warner, who coached alongside Dolan in the Academy, summed up: "He walked into something that was moving forward very quickly and he didn’t alter too much. He kept it ticking over, brought in one or two recruitment people such as Steve Shorey, but he kept everything ticking over nicely, had a great personality and was a great coach."