READING Men have been relegated from the Premier Division, ending a run of 27 consecutive seasons in England Hockey's top flight, writes Dave Wright.

The final nail in their coffin was hammered home last Sunday when they lost 5-2 to fourth-placed Old Georgians, a side which contained seven of their former players, with three of them being among the scorers.

This left Blues bottom of the table with just nine points following two wins and three draws from their 18 games, finishing two points behind University of Exeter, the side immediately above them.

It is not the first time the club have been relegated.

Having won Division One (Tier Two) in 1988-89, they moved up to the Premier Division, but lasted only one season.

However, they bounced back by lifting the Division One title in 1992-93 and went on to enjoy tremendous success, winning numerous European and domestic honours. They were Premier Division champions on six occasions.

Reading once boasted a whole host of international stars, but over the years they started to leave Sonning Lane, with several being tempted away for financial reasons by league rivals.

Old Georgians have benefitted the most, as was shown last Sunday.

The Addlestone-based club took a 2-0 lead through Sam Ward and Ed Carson, but Reading’s fighting spirit shone through and they drew level thanks to strikes from Andy Oxburgh and Charlie Ellison.

However, their hopes of a shock victory were dashed by goals from Matt Richards and Lee Morton, both Reading players last season, and Ward, with his second of the game.

On three occasions during the match, Blues found themselves a man down with Craig Falconer, Harrison Smith and Oxburgh all being sent to the 'naughty boy's chair' for yellow-card offences.

Reading 2nds were held to a 2-2 draw by Witney, their goals coming from Tom Ferris and Huw Kimber.

They stay top of MBBO Regional One with one game to play, but Amersham & Chalfont are two points behind with two home fixtures remaining.

Third-bottom Reading 3rds crashed 11-0 away to Ashford.

A depleted Reading Ladies lost 2-0 at Harleston Magpies, leaving them runners-up in the Investec League Division One South, 13

points behind undefeated champions Wimbledon and nine points clear of Slough in third place.

Reading 2nds defeated Tulse Hill & Dulwich 2-1 to move up to third-from-bottom in the South Clubs' League Division One, while the 3rds sit at the foot of Division 3a following a 6-0 loss at runners-up Southgate 2nds.

The Sonning Lane club have now cancelled all training, meetings and activities for adults and children at the Sonning Lane venue until further notice.

SONNING Men's hopes of finishing top of MBBO Regional Two suffered another blow on Saturday when they lost 5-3 away to a West Hampstead 2nds side battling to move clear of the relegation zone.

Their second successive defeat leaves them in second place, one point behind South Berkshire, who crushed Banbury 2nds 10-3.

Sonning still have two games to play, one more than their title rivals, although it is now extremely doubtful if the season will be completed.

Ian Gallagher, Noel Plant and Huw Thomas were their scorers at West Hampstead.

Plant now has 18 goals for the season – the same as teammates Nick Leach and James Manser, while Gallagher was taking his tally to 15.

Sonning 2nds, who were left without a game, also occupy second spot in Division One, a point behind Staines 2nds with one fixture to play.

In Division Three, Sonning 3rds sit fourth after losing 4-3 away to champions Leighton Buzzard.

Sonning Ladies won 3-0 away to Hampstead & Westminster 3rds, their goals coming from Rachel Muncey, Erica Wong and Katie Pake's penalty corner. They are third in Division 3a of the South Clubs' League with three fixtures to play.