Reading FC might be facing no man’s land in the Championship this season, but they’ve had some memorable campaigns over the years and graced the Premier League on more than one occasion.
In 2005/06, Reading steamrolled the Championship and picked up a record-breaking 106 points to secure a place in the Premier League, whilst six years later they were to put together another impressive run of results to win promotion under Brian McDermott.
A sluggish start to the season left Reading lingering towards the foot of the table, but McDermott’s side went on an incredible run of form following defeat to Blackpool in early December, losing just four times to beat Southampton to the title.
Over the course of the last week, Football League World exclusively caught up with former Reading left-back Ian Harte, who was a key part of McDermott’s side that season.
Reliving memories from his time at the Madejski Stadium, Harte revealed the key meeting set up by Jobi McAnuff that turned Reading’s season around and sent them flying towards another Championship title: “We were down near the bottom, I think we were fourth bottom and we had a big team meeting.
“Jobi McAnuff (captain at the time) said ‘we are all having a meeting’, the coaching staff, goalkeeping coach, everyone was in it. We had points on what we needed to improve on, good points and bad points.
“It kind of stemmed from that meeting and I think in the second-half of the season, we went on a lengthy unbeaten run. At one point we were 16 points behind Southampton and West Ham, who had some top, top Premier League players.”
The year previous, Reading had come within 90 minutes of promotion through the play-offs, with McDermott’s side beaten at Wembley by a Scott Sinclair inspired Swansea City side.
To Harte, that play-off hangover hindered Reading at the start of the following campaign: “It was the disappointment of not getting promoted the year before having got to the play-off final; we lost to Swansea City at Wembley and came back probably sulking a little bit.”
McDermott played a big part in putting Reading back on an upward curve and since his departure from the Madejski, he’s never really cracked a top job in English football.
Harte holds his former boss in high regard, though: “Brian McDermott was an unbelievable manager.
“He was vitally important, him and Nigel Gibbs, they were vitally important.
“They were disappointed with what had happened before, but they rallied the troops, got us all to refocus.”
Key moments will always define a promotion-winning season and during the second-half of the campaign, Reading went to both West Ham and Southampton to produce impressive victories.
Harte scored in a 4-2 win over West Ham at Upton Park in late March, whilst two weeks later Jason Roberts and Adam Le Fondre put Southampton to the sword on the South Coast.
“We went to West Ham and won 4-2, we went to Southampton and won,” Harte continued.
“Adam Le Fondre was up front, Jason Roberts as well, we didn’t probably play the best of football, but we had a great team spirit, great desire to go out and win games of football.”
That desire to win drove Reading to promotion and although it doesn’t stand in the record books alongside 2005/06, a title win in 2012 was unique in its own way.