Read­ing’s Si­mod Cup win­ners of 1987-88 are un­der the spot­light

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Neil Fissler

MICHAEL GILKES be­came the first Read­ing player to score a goal in a Wem­b­ley fi­nal but it was a close-run thing that he got to play there.

Gilkes had spent most of the sea­son at left-back, cov­er­ing for the in­jured Steve Richard­son, who re­turned to fit­ness just a week be­fore the trip to Wem­b­ley.

It looked like Gilkes might miss out on the big day un­til Mill­wall, who were chas­ing pro­mo­tion to Di­vi­sion One, came in on dead­line day and signed Dean Hor­rix.

With Hor­rix head­ing for The Den, it saved Read­ing boss Ian Bran­foot from hav­ing to make a dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion about who to play up front.


The choice was be­tween Hor­rix, who had scored against Ox­ford, Not­ting­ham For­est and Brad­ford in the ear­lier rounds, or Gilkes, who was very much at the start of his ca­reer.

He said: “Steve Richard­son, who was our reg­u­lar left-back, had been out for about four months. I had started to ful­fil a bit of po­ten­tial and got into the team as a cen­tre-foward, but that changed

“Af­ter Steve got in­jured, I was in the league team as a left­back, but the week be­fore Wem­b­ley we played As­ton Villa at home and Steve was fit again. I was left out of the team.

“We had Billy White­hurst and Steve Mo­ran up front, but they were cup tied. Then, Dean Hor­rid was sold to Mill­wall the week be­fore, which left a for­ward slot avail­able. I ended up play­ing up front af­ter 30 odd games at left-back. I don’t know what would have hap­pened – that was some­thing for the man­ager to de­cide.”

Read­ing had al­most van­ished from ex­is­tence five years be­fore when Robert Maxwell tried to buy them and merge them with Ox­ford United to form Thames Val­ley Roy­als.

Strug­gling at the bot­tom of the Sec­ond Di­vi­sion they weren’t fan­cied to beat Lu­ton Town, who had al­ready booked a place in the Lit­tle­woods Cup Fi­nal against Arse­nal.

De­spite go­ing be­hind to a Mick Har­ford strike af­ter 13 min­utes, Gilkes equalised eight min­utes later and was then fouled af­ter 25 min­utes for Stu­art Beavon to score from the spot.

Two fur­ther goals in nine min­utes af­ter the break, from Mick Tait and Neil Smillie, rounded off a spe­cial vic­tory.

“Lu­ton weren’t an OK team,” Gilkes added. “They were a top team and I think we gave them the shove they needed to go back later in the month and beat Arse­nal.

“They were the clear favourites against us. On the day, I know they went into a 1-0 lead, but we had a good strat­egy and it worked. It’s as clear as it gets.

“We had so many more fans than they did.

“Ev­ery­body was so happy to be there, but as soon as I equalised and then we went ahead it made ev­ery­body be­lieve we could win it.

“It wasn’t just the play­ers so much, but also the fans. As soon as the third and fourth goals went in, it was game over.”

1. Jerry Wil­liams: The winger lives in West Hag­bourne, near Did­cot, and works in the fi­nan­cial ser­vices sec­tor, spe­cial­is­ing in mort­gages and in­sur­ance. 2. Fran­cis Joseph: A striker

and el­der brother of an­other pro, Roger, who’s now liv­ing and work­ing the Mid­dle­sex area. 3. Gary West­wood: A goal­keeper now based at War­grave, Read­ing, where he runs his own busi­ness, Freestyle Sign & Print Co. 4. Colin Bailie: A full-back who moved to Cum­bria, where he joined the po­lice and is a mem­ber of the Pen­rith Ru­ral polic­ing team. 5. Steve Fran­cis: A goal­keeper now based in Dor­ridge, Soli­hull, who has worked for the Royal Mail for many years. 6. Mark White: A left-back still based in the Read­ing area and work­ing as a char­tered phys­io­ther­a­pist for the Royal Berk­shire NHS Trust. 7. Dean Hor­rix: A winger who was trag­i­cally killed in a crash near Read­ing in March 1990, when the car his wife was driv­ing ca­reered off the road and crashed into a tree. He was aged 28. 8. Ste­wart Hen­der­son: The for­mer Read­ing full-back spent 20 years at Southamp­ton in var­i­ous roles un­til the sum­mer of 2010 and is now a free­lance coach and scout. 9. Paul Franklin: A cen­tral de­fender who went on to coach at Wy­combe, Le­ices­ter and Nor­wich, then went to work for of­fice sup­plies firm Sta­ples Ad­van­tage as a na­tional ac­count man­ager. 10. Martin Hicks: A cen­tral de­fender and the Roy­als’ record ap­pear­ance holder now work­ing as a post­man in Strat­ford-upon-Avon. 11. Paul Canoville: A winger who be­came a teach­ing as­sis­tant at a school in West­min­ster, worked on Chelsea’s ed­u­ca­tion pro­gramme and is now a free­lance mo­ti­va­tional speaker. 12. Colin Gor­don: A striker who is now a di­rec­tor of Key Sports Man­age­ment and also re­cently bought a ma­jor­ity stake in Non-League Kid­der­min­ster Har­ri­ers. 13. Gary Peters: A de­fender who went into man­age­ment with Pre­ston, where he gave David Beck­ham his de­but, then on to Ex­eter and Shrews­bury. Now a foot­ball con­sul­tant for Mi­das Sports. 14. John Haselden: A cen­tral de­fender who went into coach­ing and then be­came a physio. Now re­tired in the Not­ting­hamshire area and is sadly suf­fer­ing from Alzheimer’s. 15. Michael Gilkes: A winger still based in Read­ing, where he has been a mort­gage con­sul­tant. Now works as a per­sonal trainer and coaches in Read­ing’s Acad­emy. 16. Stu­art Beavon: A mid­fielder who’s now a painter and dec­o­ra­tor, based in Read­ing. His fa­ther, Cyril, played for Ox­ford and his son Stu­art now plays for Bur­ton Al­bion. 17. Lindon Jones: A Wales U21 de­fender who has been Com­mu­nity Trust Man­ager at Swansea City for the last 13 years. 18. Ian Bran­foot: Went on to man­age Southamp­ton and Ful­ham, was Sun­der­land’s Acad­emy di­rec­tor, a scout for Leeds and coached at Winch­ester Col­lege. Now re­tired and liv­ing in An­dover. 19. Neil Smillie: A mid­fielder who has twice man­aged Wy­combe Wan­der­ers and also Gilling­ham. His fa­ther, Ron, played for Barns­ley and Lin­coln. He’s now Nike’s head of Tal­ent ID. 20. Les Tay­lor: A mid­fielder who re­turned to Ox­ford United in 1992 and is still work­ing for the club as their acad­emy man­ager. 21. Steve Richard­son: A left-back who has worked for Bas­ingstoke Town in a num­ber of ca­pac­i­ties and is now a painter and dec­o­ra­tor.






















PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

ROYAL PARTY: Michael Gilkes, Mick Tait, Stu­art Beavon and Neil Smillie at Wem­b­ley

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