Wokingham Today

Singing South Stand success

- With Simeon Pickup

SATURDAY’S home game against Preston North End saw Reading fans trial something brand new at the Madejski Stadium: a singing section in the South Stand. A diverse group of ‘Loyal Royals’, crowded around a megaphone, backed their team from start to finish with a mix of old songs and new.

There may have only been about 40 of us there, but it’s the most fun I’ve had at a Reading game in ages.

The 90-minute trial captured the true essence of what it means to enjoy a football game – standing with your mates at a game, watching the team you love and backing them to the hilt with non-stop chants to push them over the line and get the win.

Did we look a bit stupid in our tiny group, probably. Barely visible from the other end of the ground? Maybe, but I don’t care - I loved every minute.

In truth, the Mad Stad has badly needed a new fan initiative along these lines for quite some time.

The home atmosphere has withered in recent years, hardly helped by the team’s rocky fortunes on the pitch.

Even in bigger games, that matchday buzz hasn’t quite been the same.

The Y25/Y26 section in the south east corner is the hub of any atmosphere the home crowd does generate, but for me it falls down on its location.

After all, the acoustics are all wrong – you can’t have your noisiest supporters huddled into a corner.

Also, the tone of the chanting has become too much about slating the nearby opposition fans rather than backing the team.

There’s no point making noise if it doesn’t help your own players.

A new singing section solves both of those problems by making better use of the club’s most ardent fans. By grouping them in the South Stand - for the time being at least - and putting the emphasis on backing the boys and making some noise, we get a much better home atmosphere.

The trial continues for the visit of Sunderland, and hopefully of Ipswich Town too. I can’t wait to be part of it again.

Simeon can be found on Twitter @BucksRoyal and his website’s account is @TheTilehur­stEnd.

Head over to wokingham.today to hear the latest episode of The Tilehurst End Podcast Extra with

The Wokingham Paper’s Tom Crocker and Simeon’s colleague Olly Allen, discussing all things Royals.

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