Posted by: RFC Blogger from Bridgend | March 17, 2011

Man City 1:0 Royals – FA Cup qtr final

They have n’t made it to the qtr finals in my life time before 2010 and now they’ve been there two years running! Maybe it will be third time lucky to make it to the semi-finals though next year. Apart from the first game which was home to West Brom, the Royals travelled away for every game, Stevenage, Everton and then Man City.

File:Mcfc stad pano.jpg

I joined the 2835 other Royals supporters at the Manchester City Stadium to cheer on the lads to hopefully a momentous semi final place for the first time in 80 plus years. There is something really special about joining throngs of fans getting on coaches at your home ground to make the journey to cheer your team on. There was around 35 coaches leaving the Mad Stad moving northwards up the M40 and beyond.

I went with my uncle and cousin and had a good chat on the way up. The coach picked up more passengers at Keel Services – three Royals fans who travel away regularly but live in Somerset, Leicester and Derby. The one from Somerset strangely enough had met me before.

When I first used to go to the football at Reading or to Reading generally, I always expected to bump into people I knew. In the hundreds of times I’ve been back this has only happened twice or so. But then in a town with a population of 250k why would I expect to bump into anyone I knew? Anyway the last game I went to at the Mad Stad, me and MYC sat in a different stand to normal, and on our way down the stairs after the game a passerby entered into conversation with us. MYC was complaining that I was rushing, and the chap walking down the stairs next to us commented that I was in a hurry to get back down the motorway. I agreed and then wondered how he knew. He answered that he’d seen us whiz past him on the motorway on the way up from the West. He recognised us from our car which had my scarf stretched across the back window. He is a season ticket holder from Somerset, and goes to all home and away games – well done him!

Anyway here he was again, getting on the supporters coach at Keel Services – something him and the other two followers do regularly it turns out. There’s an idea I might pinch in the future.

We arrived at the stadium and a scary Manchester Met Police Officer kindly told us all that we were not welcome in the local pubs – home fans only, but of course we could go into the stadium from 3pm and spend money on drinks in there! We were not allowed to take any bottles (plastic with or without lids) into the stadium. We would all be searched before entering the ground (this did not happen) and we were warned to not go round to the right of the stadium as that was where the away fans would be (I think he meant home fans). This sounded like a really friendly place!

We got off the coach to stretch our legs and walked around for a while – it was a lovely day.

Before we knew it it was gone 4 o’clock and we went into the ground. By now the draw had happened for the next round, and we knew that the winners of the game would face Manchester United! It did not feel right somehow knowing who the next round would be against, before we’d even kicked a ball, but then that happened in the previous round, as we had not played Everton and knew that the winners of Manchester City and Aston Villa awaited the winners of our game with Everton. 

We got into the ground, and I made my way to the seats. Forgot to get a programme and could not see any for sale – so was feeling a bit sorry for myself. The atmosphere was quite good though, and I really liked the imagery of the full moon used by Man City – it looked really good on the big screens – there are two of these at this ground. There were some large flags swaying in the wind along one side of the pitch which also looked really good.

The game kicked off and I felt really nervous. I was hoping that the Royals would not be overwhelmed by Man City – with the likes of Tevez and Silva in their side they have the potential to rip through the Royals defence which was a bit like Dads Army (amateurish by comparison to the Premiership opposition) in the sense of our first team being hit with injuries, and our defence has not been fantastic at times recently. But although there was always the possibility of each Man City attack being successful and making the net in front of us billow with a goal, as the minutes passed the Royals settled into some sort of pattern – and they worked very well as a team effectively smothering each Man City attack on goal. We reached half time without conceding a goal.

The second half almost got off to the worst start, but we managed about 30 minutes before the inevitable happened – and Man City went in front. As the Royals made their way back to the centre circle some of us Royals fans tried to shout our encouragement – but the noise from the home fans was tremendous and our attempt to rally the team went unheard. 

Things changed then – and the cynical side of their team and the set up came into force. We also all of  a sudden were surrounded by Police officers down the flanks of our away supporters seats – although the officers were facing outwards. That is towards the Man City Fans!

When ever the ball went out and it was a Reading throw in – the Reading player had to go and retrieve the ball from where it ended up – ball boys obviously are told to hide under these circumstances! The time-wasting was horrendous. It’s a shame it comes to this really. Man City should have had the class to beat the Royals without resorting to this type of behaviour – it just rubs salt in the wound. But hay ho, that’s professionalism for you, the winning is all that matters not how it’s won!

Brian pulled the boys together for a moment to gather their thoughts, and then come towards the away fans so that they could applaud us and we them – which was good.

On the one hand I was really pleased that the team had acquitted themselves well and there was no sense of embarrassment in the way the game had gone, and losing to higher opposition. However Man City were there for the taking. They were not firing on all cylinders and if we had taken the few chances we had it could have been different.

The journey back was not too bad – I slept most of the way with my adrenaline drained.

That’s the cup adventure over for another year. I did not really expect anything from the game – although the optimist in me felt there was a possibility of success. It gets me down when they lose, and Monday was a bit of an anticlimax. MOH taped the highlights for me which I watched later on Monday night. I think Matt Smith and whoever else was in the studio forgot who Man City played in the game. They commented on Man City’s performance, and key players, and their Premiership hopes, and did not mention the Royals at all. It’s as if their part in the quarter finals has already been passed into history and forgotten about.

Hopefully the boys can reflect on how well they have performed this year and last year in this cup, and it will give their confidence a boost for the last push in the league run in.

Common the Royals!

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