Explore the Hall of Fame and find out about those honoured by STAR for their great contributions to the life of the club.
STAR’s Reading FC Hall of Fame
The Hall of Fame is a work-in-progress project scheduled to complete on the 150th anniversary of Reading FC’s first match in 1872. Each year between 2016 and 2022 10-15 new names will be added (inducted) into the Hall of Fame.
In total there will be about 150 inductees fairly even spread across the 15 decades of the club’s history. Nomination is open to any individual that has played an exceptional or distinctive part in the life of the club. The Hall of Fame should not be seen as a ‘long service’ award. Specifically, it should include players, managers, officials, journalists and supporters. Below you can see the first eleven men to be elected.
A range of well-informed supporters has put forward initial recommendations to STAR. These have then been considered in terms of merit and popularity by a panel consisting of STAR Board members and outside experts who will determine the final selection of the latest round of inductees each year. Supporters are welcome to take part in future initial recommendation stages. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for further details.
1870s Edward Haygarth
Reading career 1872-76 c40 appearances c10 goals
Claim to fame: Reading’s first star player and first England international.
Edward Brownlow Haygarth was an inspiration to Reading FC in its very earliest amateur days. It is likely he played in the club’s first ever game. He is the club’s first recorded goal-scorer, first hat-trick scorer and first international player, as well as the second ever captain of the club. Haygarth’s links to the great and good of football’s early days would almost certainly have helped the status of the new Reading club.
Born in Cirencester in 1854 Haygarth came to Reading as part of his training to be a solicitor. He was an all-round sportsman, capable in athletics and a good bat for Reading Cricket Club. At football he played in a position described as ‘back’ in an era where he could face up to seven forwards. He was described as a having a powerful and accurate kick, fearless and heavy and able on occasions to dribble right through the opposition to score. Newspaper reports enthused about his play and soon he went on to represent Berkshire, to play for the select Slough-based club Swifts and in 1875, at the age of 20, to play at The Oval in the 4th ever football international against Scotland. In the FA records he is credited as being a Swifts player but there is no doubt he was also captaining and playing for Reading regularly at the time. He acquitted himself well in the international, a 2-2 draw, and continued to captain Reading for a while before moving to London, where he played for Wanderers, and then Cirencester where he set up in legal practice.
He retired from football at 23 but continued to play cricket as a leading batsman for Circencester Cricket Club and briefly as a first class cricketer for Gloucestershire. In later life he was a founder member of what became Circencester Golf Club and an important figure in the local community there.
1890s Joey Warburton
Reading career 1890-95 c60 appearances c40 goals
Claim to fame: The man who made sure Reading FC was called Reading FC.
Joey Warburton was a well-loved local hero who played several important roles in the decade that transformed Reading from a struggling amateur outfit to a nationally recognised professional club. He scored the vital goal in Reading’s first trophy win for 13 years, became club secretary at a key moment and soon after an important director when the club turned professional.
Joey Warburton was born in Thatcham in 1867 and moved to Reading in his youth to work for Jackson’s general and scrap metal merchants in Oxford Road, eventually becoming managing director there. He was active in local football and cricket at a young age and played for Garfield and Earley before joining an improving Reading team and making his debut in September 1890. Joey played mainly as a right-sided forward. He was almost ever-present in 1891-92 and scored the opening goal in the Berks & Bucks Cup Final in 1892. Reading won 2-0. Thereafter he featured less regularly in the first team though he did play against Old Carthusians in 1894 (the programme still exists for this match) and a few times in our first Southern League season 1894-95. He was a popular mainstay of the reserves towards the end of his career.
When the club turned professional in the summer of 1895 Warburton retired from playing and took on the role of Club Secretary and almost his first act was to fight off the claims of the breakaway Reading Amateurs FC to the title of ‘The Reading Football Club.’ This he managed successfully. The club became a Limited Liability Company in 1897 and Warburton, with his long association with the club and his playing experience, became one of the most influential directors. He died in 1939.
1910s Allen Foster
Reading career: 1911-1915 146 appearances 67 goals
Claim to fame: FA Cup and European hero and WWI casualty.
Allen Foster joined Reading in August 1911, for a transfer fee of £75. He was virtually ever-present for the next four seasons and top scorer in each of those seasons, with a total of 67 league goals from 146 appearances. He is particularly remembered for two scoring feats, an FA Cup winner against Aston Villa and a hat-trick against AC Milan. Tipped for international honours, he was killed in battle in the First World War.
Allen had begun his football career with Rotherham Town, a club playing in the Midland League (which later amalgamated with Football League club Rotherham County to form Rotherham United). Moving to Football League club, Bristol City in January 1909 he made 13 appearances; scoring one goal, before transferring into the Southern League with Reading in 1911. As a left-footed inside forward he formed a deadly partnership with Joe Bailey.
He scored a stunning volleyed winner in the FA cup 2nd Round replay against First Division, Aston Villa in February 1912, prompting a bid of £750 from Villa, which the Reading FC directors rejected despite the Club being in significant financial difficulties at the time. Villa were a leading side in that era as were Manchester United who Reading held in the next round (last 16) before losing in the replay.
During the Club’s successful end of season tour of Italy in 1913, he scored a hat-trick against Italian giants AC Milan in the Club's 5–0 victory. The result prompted the leading Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera to report that "without doubt, Reading FC are the finest foreign team seen in Italy.” The following year he played and scored on Reading’s tour of Holland. He was tipped for an England call up but war intervened.
Allen was born in Rawmarsh, near Rotherham in South Yorkshire, in late 1887. Having married Beatrice Jennings in the spring of 1912 in Bristol the couple moved into a house at 14 Kent Road in Reading (literally yards from Elm Park).
During 1915 Foster, along with many other professional footballers volunteered for active service, joining the 17th Middlesex Battalion (The Footballers’ Battalion). At 4.00 a.m. on 8th August 1916 at Guillemont, on the Somme battlefield Allen was part of the 17th Middlesex attempt to attack German trenches north of the village. Early in the advance he was wounded in the arm, thigh and abdomen. After being recovered by stretcher bearers he was evacuated to a Casualty Clearing Station at Corbie, where sadly he died of his wounds. Allen is buried in Corbie Communal Cemetery Extension.
1920s John Arlott
Reading career: Supporter from the 1920s onwards
Claim to fame: The first well-known personality to speak up as a Reading fan
John Arlott was the first nationally, indeed possibly internationally, known supporter of Reading FC. Whilst famed as one the very greatest cricket broadcasters he was also for some time a football journalist and kept his support for unfashionable Reading public in the press rooms of the nation and in his biographical work.
Leslie Thomas John Arlott OBE; a journalist, writer, poet and wine connoisseur was born on 25th February 1914 in Basingstoke, North Hampshire, an area that has done much to support the club over the years. An avid football supporter, as a young man he cycled regularly the 17 miles from his Basingstoke home to watch the Biscuitmen at Elm Park. He notoriously failed his entrance examination for Cambridge University by leaving the room after the first hour to go and watch a Reading cup tie.
After leaving school and brief employment as a clerk at Basingstoke Town Hall and four years working as a records clerk at Park Prewett Mental Hospital in Basingstoke John Arlott joined the Southampton County Borough Police Force where he served for 12 years rising to the rank of sergeant; using every opportunity to watch Hampshire Cricket Club.
Coming to the attention of the BBC in 1945 he was invited to join its Overseas Service in 1946 initially to commentate on England’s warm up games for India’s tour of England he made such an impression that he was invited to commentate on the subsequent Test matches, thus launching a 34 year broadcasting career in which he commentated on every home Test match in his popular poetic style aided by a distinctive voice, described by fellow Guardian journalist, Frank Keating as an, "articulate, leisurely, confiding countryman's burr". His contribution to British radio is commemorated in the Royal Academy’s Hall of Fame.
A liberal and humanitarian, he stood for Parliament as a Liberal Party candidate unsuccessfully twice. He was an outspoken critic of the England selectors’ initial failure to select Basil D’Olivera for the 1968 tour of South Africa amidst allegations of South African political interference with the selection committee. A result of which was his vow never to commentate on South Africa again, but following the cancellation of the 1968 and 1970 tours South Africa was ostracised from World cricket until the release from prison of Nelson Mandela in 1991.
John Arlott retired from cricket commentary and journalism at the end of the 1980 cricket season and moved to Alderney, where he died peacefully in his sleep on 14 December 1991.
1930s Tommy Tait
Reading career 1934-39 170 appearances 103 goals
Claim to fame: Instant success and prolific scorer part-funded by Supporters’ Club.
Tommy Tait had already scored goals in all four divisions of the Football League, with Southport, Manchester City, Bolton and Luton, before Reading paid Bournemouth £1,000 for his services in November 1934. Uniquely, £200 of that fee was paid for by the fledgling Reading Football Supporters’ Club and he immediately repaid the fans’ faith by scoring a hat-trick on his debut at Aldershot in a game that also saw him have two other ‘goals’ ruled out for off side.
From then on it was goals all the way as Tommy headed our goal-scorers in his first four seasons. A hardworking, aggressive forward, Tommy was also an innovative player who was one of the first centre forwards to roam across the pitch to create space for himself and his fellow forwards, as well as creating confusion among the opposition’s defence. The only black spot on Tommy’s Reading career came on Boxing Day 1934 when he became the first Reading player to be sent off in a League game at Elm Park when he retaliated to persistent fouls by the Millwall defence. Tommy soon got his revenge on Millwall, scoring the goal that knocked them out of the FA Cup a month later to earn Reading a home tie at home to Arsenal. That goal confirmed Tommy’s love of the FA Cup as it was one of 14 that he scored in 15 games in that competition. His dismissal never dimmed his support from the fans so there was uproar when the club announced that Tommy’s contract would not be renewed at the end of the 1937-38 season. The supporters began a petition in an attempt to get their favourite re-signed but Tommy had a better idea, scoring five goals in the next two games to earn himself a new contact.
He finally left Elm Park in 1939, joining Torquay. The start of the Second World War effectively ended Tommy’s playing career although he did return to Reading to make two more appearances as a wartime guest. One of the most popular players in Reading’s history, Tommy died in Cheshire in 1976 at the age of 67.
1950s Ronnie Blackman
Reading career 1947-54 240 appearances 167 goals
Claim to fame: Club record scorer for League goals in a season and in a career.
In 1950-51 his 35-goal League goal haul was increased by cup, friendly and reserve strikes to give him a remarkable 52 goal total while, the following season he was the first Reading player to top the division’s scorers with a club record 39 goals. In addition, that season saw him create another piece of club history when he scored in a friendly at Swindon that was the club’s first goal under floodlights.
Both Portsmouth and Southampton failed to pick up on Cosham-born Ron Blackman but 93 goals in 67 games for Gosport brought him to Reading’s attention. Signed initially on a part-time basis in February 1947 Ron cost Reading just the statutory £10 signing on fee, along with a friendly at Gosport, a promise that was not fulfilled until 1979!
Having signed as a full professional six months later, Ron was coached by Reading’s veteran centre forward, Tony MacPhee, and under this prolific scorer Ron made great progress and in April 1948 he scored his first League goal in his third game. Even so, Ron had to wait until the following February to get a regular starting place, making the number nine shirt his own with a hat-trick on his return to the first team – the first of a club record 11 three-goal hauls or better that included two matches in which he scored five times. From then on Ron averaged well over a goal every other game to top our scorers’ lists for the next five seasons.
Ron had a powerful shot in both feet but it was his heading ability that most fans will remember him for. He combined a powerful leap with perfect timing to score 96 of his 197 with his head – even more remarkable when, in one of his first games for the club, he was criticised in the local press for a lack of heading ability! By the summer of 1954 Reading were struggling financially and so reluctantly agreed to sell their club captain and record scorer to Nottingham Forest for £6,600, a record fee that did little to placate Ron’s legions of fans. The move to Forest was not a success and although Ron fared better at Ipswich under their new manager, Alf Ramsey, a series of injuries meant that he never repeated his Elm Park form.
After a spell in non-League football, Ron left the game and worked for Reading GPO until his retirement. Ron was a tough competitor on the pitch but a perfect gentleman and his appearances at Elm Park and the Madejski Stadium were always greeted by warm and enthusiastic applause by Reading fans, many of whom had never seen him play. There was genuine sadness throughout the club when he died in February 2016 at the age of 90, leaving goal-scoring records that are unlikely to be surpassed.
1960s Johnny Walker
Reading career: 1957-1966 319 appearances 27 goals
Claim to fame: A football man through and through and a great character.
Johnny Walker signed for Reading on his 29th birthday – and still managed over 300 games over 8 seasons for the club such was his love of the game. He captained an entertaining side which generally finished near the top of the old Third Division and was a dead-eye penalty taker too. Despite never losing his Glasgow accent, and love of Rangers, Johnny settled in Reading and involved himself in local football and was a well-loved character full of wry humour and practical jokes.
Walker’s professional career started with Wolves in 1947. Skilful and slightly built he made his mark in the First Division as a goal-scoring inside forward before joining Southampton in that role in 1952 for the then large fee of £12,000.
In 1957 he signed for Reading and, as the years went by and his pace diminished, he worked his way backwards from inside forward to wing half and then right full back where, on occasions, he partnered Gordon Neate. Many of his 27 goals for Reading were scored from the penalty spot, the cool head of a wily veteran coming to the fore. His party trick was to dance a jig on the spot and then speed past his baffled opponent. The nearest he came to any honours at the club was as a runner-up in the Southern Professional Floodlit Cup final in 1958.
After retiring from professional football at the age of 37 he assisted various local clubs including Wokingham and Tilehurst. For many years he worked for the Post Office in Reading and then at Theale Social Club. In retirement could often be spotted in Broad Street wearing a shirt with RFC embroidered on the breast – Rangers FC!
1960s Gordon Neate
Reading career: 1956-2009 107 appearances 2 goals
Claim to fame: 53 years of loyal service to the club
Gordon Neate is one of Reading Football Club's most loyal and popular figures, having served as player and groundsman for over half a century. Given the nickname 'Fred' by friend and colleague Maurice Evans, the local lad arrived as an apprentice at Elm Park at the age of 15 in 1956 after an impressive career in schoolboy football.
Gordon played for the club's minor teams before turning professional in March 1958 and made his first team debut away at Colchester in April 1959. His home league debut came on the final day of the season, when Reading thrashed Accrington Stanley 5-0.
The full-back was in and out of the side over the next seven years due to terrible luck with injuries, and was forced to hang up his boots in 1966 at the age of just 25. In his last playing season Gordon had some consolation when he picked up a Football Combination Division Two championship medal as part of the reserve team. Reading chairman Alf Smith then offered Gordon the post of groundsman and, after assisting Bill Smith briefly using the knowledge he'd gained working on the pitch during his time on the ground staff, he took on the task of tending the turf along with general ground maintenance. During his time as groundsman there was a competition to find out who had the hardest shot in the club. Gordon won it – beating the two goalkeepers into second and third place. All the forwards missed the target! Gordon liked a laugh, a chat and a friendly word with the fans – except when they got on his pitch.
Gordon's long service and loyalty was recognized as he received a Canon League Loyalty Award in 1985 and a Football League Long Service Award in 1996. He followed the club to the Madejski Stadium in 1998 as groundsman before eventually retiring in 2009 at the age of 68, meaning that he had served Reading Football Club with distinction for a remarkable 53 years.
1980s Roger Smee
Reading Career 1967-70 and 1973-74 62+4 appearances 17 goals
Claim to fame: Former player who saved and re-vitalised the club in its hour of need.
When Reading FC was threatened with extinction in the spring of 1983 it was former centre-forward Roger Smee who stepped up to the plate and saved the club from a ‘merger’ on most unfavourable terms with Robert Maxwell’s Oxford United. He was just 34 years old and less than 10 years away from the end of an injury-ravaged playing career. Under his chairmanship Reading achieved two promotions, the highest league placing for 60 years and victory at Wembley.
Reading-born Smee did his football apprentice-ship at Chelsea before joining Reading in January 1967 and scoring on his league debut. As a bustling, blond centre forward he made an immediate impact with 9 goals in 15 matches (only one defeat) as Reading narrowly missed promotion in 1967. But injuries thereafter kept him in, and mostly out, of the team with his last appearance coming in November 1969 as Dick Habbin (another successful businessman in later life) took his shirt. He dropped down into non-league football with Hillingdon and Hereford and took the then unusual step of playing abroad with KV Ostend in Belgium. In October 1973 Smee had one last go at league football with Charlie Hurley’s goal-starved Biscuitmen but it didn’t work and this time he was replaced by Robin Friday.
Roger Smee trained for life outside football as a quantity surveyor and estate agent, soon forming his own Reading-based property company, Rockfort, which grew in strength in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Reading struggled terribly in 1982-83. The directors put the club up for sale and gates were sometimes below 2,000. In March 1983 it was announced that Robert Maxwell, the Oxford U chairman, would acquire the majority shareholding in Reading and merge the two clubs. Smee, and rebel Reading director Roy Tranter, led the successful fightback and by July 1983 he was in a position to become chairman of the club.
As a relatively young chairman Roger Smee was full of reforming and commercially-minded ideas in comparison with the moribund regime that preceded him. Out went the hooped shirts, Maurice Evans the respected manager (an unpopular decision) and the elms badge. In came plans to move the club from Elm Park to Smallmead, Ian Branfoot, the Royals Rendezvous bar, Trevor Senior, trophies, big transfers, records and promotions. It all ended in tears as the financial recession of late 1990 emptied Smee’s pockets and the club had to be rescued again, this time by John Madejski. But Smee’s six years not only saved the club but also revitalised its spirit with promotion from Division Four (1984), 13 wins from the start of the season (1985), promotion from Division Two (1986), highest-ever league placing (1987) and the Simod Cup victory at Wembley (1988).
1990s Ady Williams
Reading Career 1988-96, 2000-04 377+8 appearances 22 goals
Claim to fame: Mr Everywhere – he played at all levels and in every shirt.
Besides a fine and long career and a big personality Ady Williams grabbed more than his fair share of unusual records. He was the first player to play all the way through from schoolboy level to full international whilst on Reading’s books. He wore every number shirt from 1 to 14 in his Reading career, plus a very, very, brief spell as joint-manager and he netted the Royals’ 5,000 League goal. He is currently (2016) still with us as a leading football pundit on BBC Radio Berkshire.
Reading-born Williams came through the Centre for Excellence, the precursor of the Academy, as a right winger before switching to full-back, aged 17. It took until the 1991-92 season for him to become established in the first team playing alongside Keith McPherson at centre back. Under Mark McGhee’s management Reading – and Williams – improved considerably and the Division Two title was won in 1994.
The following season Reading challenged strongly for promotion to the Premier League – even after McGhee departed mid-season, leaving the 24 year-old Williams one of four joint-managers appointed by John Madejski. Ady quickly renounced any claims on the boss’s chair and continued with his forceful and stylish centre-half play, often bringing the ball out into midfield. At 6 foot 2 he was strong in the air as well. By now, and by virtue of his father’s place of birth Ady was a Welsh international.
In the summer of 1996 Williams re-joined McGhee who was now managing Wolves. Injuries in the mid-part of his career restricted Ady to just 36 appearances at Molineux and in the spring of 2000 he came back to Reading on loan. It was a successful spell under Alan Pardew’s invigorating management and so in the summer he signed for a third time for Reading and won promotion again from Division Two in 2002.
In 2004 Ady left Reading for a successful spell with Coventry before seeing out his career at Millwall and Swindon, retiring in 2009. In total he made nearly 500 appearances for all clubs and earned 12 international caps. After trying his luck in management, mainly at a non-league level, Williams then focused on a career in media where his energy and perception paid dividends.
2000s Graeme Murty
Reading career: 1998-2009 321+12 appearances 2 goals
Claim to fame: Captain of the “106” team and all-round good guy.
Despite an injury-blighted start to his Reading career Graeme Murty persevered to become one of the all-time fans’ favourites. He captained the club from right back in the years 2005-08 as Reading won promotion to the Premier League and then achieved the club’s highest ever league finish in 2007. In his time at Reading he was an active charity fund-raiser and ambassador for the club – as well as a notoriously infrequent goal-scorer!
Murty’s magic moment came in the final match of the 2005-06 season when Reading were awarded a late penalty. A goal and Reading would set a new Football League record for the most points won in a season. Murty’s only other goal, a screamer to be fair, had come five years earlier. With the chant of “he knows he is, he’s sure he is, he’s M U R T Y” ringing around the capacity crowd in the Madejski stadium stepped up to score amid wild celebrations.
He joined Reading in 1998, as a Tommy Burns signing, from York City where he had often played on the right wing. Playing in a pre-season friendly in July 1998 gave him the distinction of being the last Reading player to play at both Elm Park and the Madejski Stadium. Long spells out with injury restricted him to just 40 starts in his first three seasons. Thereafter he had five seasons as the regular right back, tough and tenacious in defence and overlapping to good purpose in attack. In the first of those seasons Reading won promotion back to the second tier (2002) and Murty was voted Player of the Season and into the PFA Division Two ‘Team of the Year’.
After Phil Parkinson left in 2003 he was appointed club captain. A well respected skipper among the players and fans, he led the club to the Premier League as Championship winners in 2005-6. He was voted supporters ‘Player of the Year’ again in 2003/04. During his time at Reading he played 4 times for Scotland. Murty will also remembered as an ambassador with all of his charity fund-raising and work in the local community. During his time at Reading he played 4 times for Scotland, the country of his father’s birth, Graeme being a Tees-sider. He left Reading in 2009 and joined Southampton, after a loan spell at Charlton. At Southampton he worked in the youth development areas and in 2014 took a similar position at Norwich City. He has also made numerous regional and national TV appearances.