Today we hear from Roger Titford – STAR Board member
Back to the match
Tonight’s the first game under the MadStad lights since 3 March, the FA Cup tie against Sheffield United. I remember then there was already nervousness about the virus in the air. In our annual newsletter Reading Matter in April I wrote, ‘there is a certain logic that suggests we may not get back to “normal” football until 2021-22’ and thinking, maybe that sounds a bit pessimistic.
It’s been a long break from match-going but I’ve been keeping busy with various football projects. In particular I’ve been STAR’s representative working with Reading University and trying to help join various pieces of academic research to the real world.
Behind closed doors
The last few months of behind closed doors matches have allowed sports experts all over the world to conduct ‘experiments’ on the effect of no crowds. In one study it appears that the absence of crowds has had little effect on home advantage (which was already in long-term decline) but has shown that referees are a little more likely to yellow card home players.
Elsewhere even small crowds shouting support for home players can make a notable positive difference so everyone of the 2,000 here tonight has a genuine part to play in maintaining our push for a third Football League title. It was widely remarked that the noise and enthusiasm of just the Wycombe subs bench helped the team past the quiescent Oxford United in the play-off final at Wembley.
Another study in the USA showed that fans were more willing to pay to come to stadiums if they knew that fellow-supporters would be wearing masks and that only 25% of the capacity (rather than 50%) would be used.
During lockdown many of us have used the time to clear our garages, attics and spare bedrooms. STAR has received several enquiries from people looking to dispose of programme collections and other Reading memorabilia. The other memorabilia we’re definitely interested in – such as shirts, scrapbooks, tickets; programmes from 1965 onwards, less so as we have several virtually complete sets of home programmes. Programmes from this era don’t have a financial value, generally speaking, though STAR would be happy to sell you specific programmes maybe relating to your first game, birthday etc. But we’re happy to take in donated collections and distribute them for upcoming school and community projects.
On the STAR website and Facebook page we’ve launched a fortnightly series called ‘my piece of Reading FC memorabilia’. These are short articles each featuring a unique item and the personal story behind it. The first three are on the site now: a seat-back from Elm Park, a Network SouthEast cardkey and a quite strange medal. You can find them in the News section – here’s one: My piece of Reading FC memorabilia – an Elm Park seat back – STAR (star-reading.org) . We’d love more contributions from supporters in this style. All it takes is a photo and a story of 200-400 words – it doesn’t have to be word perfect – we’ll sort that out. Please write in to email@example.com
And all this memorabilia talk gave me another lockdown project which involves a couple of supporters from other clubs. It’s a blog and a campaign to find easier ways of saving the nation’s football memorabilia and you can view it at www.thegreatsave.net