Stephen Browett recalls previous trips to Reading as he prepares for the trip down the M4 for a night of FA Cup action.
Palace fans snapped up the tickets for our FA Cup Quarter Final at Reading in double quick time, but the good news is that the match is being broadcast live on BBC1.
After some appalling bad luck, last minute goals, bizarre decisions and injuries to key players, we can now put our league form behind us and concentrate on the Cup - with the prize of a semi-final at Wembley possibly just 90 minutes away. However, Reading will be a tough side to beat and it’s not often that we go into a game as the favourites. That always makes me nervous! I remember the Quarter Final in 1990 where we were really pleased to avoid the big boys and draw Cambridge United away. It was a pretty horrible game in the days when fans were caged in on open terraces. We only won it thanks to a late scuffed shot from Geoff Thomas following a corner. Despite beating three good Premier League teams to get to this stage of the competition, that counts for nothing on the night and we need to be focussed and strong to get through this round.
We’ve played Reading 80 times in total over the years with honours fairly even. Our first game there was in 1920 in the old Third Division South. Our first FA Cup tie there was a replay in 1931. These were a little before my time, but a game that I remember was our last ever visit to Elm Park, in 1996, when we won 6-1 thanks to goals from our 2 Aussies – Veart and Muscat - along with Tuttle, Freedman, Dyer and Ndah. Our most recent league visit was on the last day of the 2011/2012 season when Reading won the Championship. Julian had to go off with a broken finger but we still managed a 2-2 draw with Zaha and Murray scoring.
Tickets for the Reading game were a bargain £15 for season ticket holders, which was welcome news for Palace away travellers. There’s been some more great news this week with the announcement that ticket prices will be capped at £30 for all Premier League games for the next three seasons. Another good reason to stay in the league!
But, for now, it’s all about the magic of the FA Cup. Those of us who were at Cambridge United, Villa Park and Wembley in 1990 will never forget that cup run and how close we came to lifting the famous trophy. We can go a big step closer tonight and I’m sure that Palace fans behind the goal will be loud and proud.