Today we hear from Kevin Lenton – STAR Board member
Bless em all, bless em all, the long and the short and the tall
A new player emerges from the tunnel and steps onto the hallowed turf. The crowd stretch their necks to take their first look. “Wow, his height will be good in both boxes”. “Blimey, he is shorter than the mascot”. “He will be blown over in a strong wind”. “ You fat …” well, you know the rest.
So, over the years who has been the tallest, shortest, heaviest and lightest weight Reading players? I can go back 51 years to when the Rothmans Football Yearbook first came out. I’ve got every edition published. These statistics relate to League appearances only, and up to the end of last season (2019-20).
There is some confusion about the tallest, as goalkeeper Shaka Hislop was originally recorded as 6ft 6ins. He was certainly tall, but not that tall. By the time he was sold to Newcastle in 1995 he was recorded as 6ft 4ins, which has been confirmed elsewhere. He must have been standing on tip toes when originally measured! So, the tallest players, not surprisingly are also goalkeepers, Mikkel Andersen who made 5 appearance between 2007 and 2015 and Sam Walker who made 7 appearances up to the end of last season. Both are 6ft 5ins, significantly taller than Reading goalkeeping legend Steve Death at 5ft 7.5ins who made 471 League appearances.
The shortest player was Paul Brayson at 5ft 4ins, a prolific goal scorer for Newcastle Youth and Reserve teams. He was one of Tommy Burns’ seven transfer deadline signings in 1997-1998. It is fair to say that he had didn’t have the same success with Reading.
The heaviest player was Marcus Hahnemann at 16st 4lbs in 2002, but interestingly enough he was down to 13st 3lbs by 2006. He made 282 appearances between 2001 and 2009. Worthy of mention is Terry Hurlock who was 14st 1lb but only 5ft 9ins, so you can imagine his shape if you did not see him play.
Lastly, the lightest player was Tony Wagstaff at 9st 3lbs, who played 166 times between 1969 and 1973. He was a very talented midfielder but his lack of physical strength did lead to a number of niggling injuries.
Bless ‘em all is not a usual Christmas song but sadly this isn’t a usual Christmas. Wishing you a happy and safe Christmas from all at STAR and a return to the usual fare as soon as practical.