Swansea, Reading and er.... Biscuits..
Chris Slegg, LKO London & SE Reporter -
As the local team of Princess Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Reading's nickname has never been more appropriate than it is right now. Yet until 1976 the Royals were known as the Biscuitmen, and there can't have been a sports reporter in Berkshire who didn't mourn the passing of that pseudonym.
Suddenly leads "crumbling", defences offering "wafer-thin" resistance and strikers "gobbling up" chances were puns which no longer hit the mark. It's particularly galling given the tasty treat of a six-goal thriller Swansea and Reading served up in the Championship play-off final.
Congratulations to Swansea for a masterful display in clinching that 4-2 win at Wembley and of course for a magnificent season, but they have now ascended to the world of Match of the Day. As such, they're beyond our remit here at Late Kick Off. So it falls to us to discuss their vanquished opponents.
If Reading were a biscuit variety box, then Brian McDermott would surely be a custard cream, which according to the BBC website was voted the nation's favourite biscuit in 2007 because of its reputation as a "no-nonsense nibble". McDermott is a no-nonsense manager, and one who has become a favourite with the Reading fans since taking over a team on the slide in December 2009. As well as guiding them to within one match of the Premier League, he's also racked up famous FA Cup wins against Liverpool and Everton. His predecessor was the man who has now transformed Swansea.
Brendan Rodgers was very much a Garibaldi as far as Reading fans were concerned. A biscuit that's not everyone's cup of tea, or at least a biscuit that not everyone would consider dunking in their cup of tea. While Rodgers becomes the first manager to lead a Welsh team into the top-flight since John Toshack took Swansea up 30 years ago, Reading and McDermott are condemned to another season in the Championship.
The oldest Football League team in the south of England have spent only two of their 140 years in the top division. Another year outside the elite could be a particularly difficult one though. A group of Reading fans I spoke to outside the Madejski Stadium before they set off for the semi-final 2nd leg against Cardiff told me they were worried that it was now or never. They were particularly worried that a failure to reach the Premier League would see the likes of Jimmy Kebe, Shane Long and Noel Hunt leave for pastures new.
It's to be hoped that McDermott is able to keep his squad together and have another go at the promotion that was so nearly theirs. "When it got to 3-2 our fans nearly pulled us over the line," McDermott told BBC Radio Berkshire. Indeed they did. Reading were a post's width away from equalising. What might have happened then? As it is, it's Swansea who can look forward to hob-nobbing with the elite at football's top table while Reading must search for some crumbs of comfort from what's been an otherwise promising season.