Thursday, 25 July 2013

robin friday and reading festival 1974

When l was a young lad and my parents moved to RAF Benson (in between Reading and Oxford), one of the first things l did was choose a local football team to watch, which turned out to be Oxford United.
I went to just about all of their home games while we were there, but also some away fixtures (not many, as l  was still at school).
One of these was in 1974 against Reading, in a pre season friendly, where the programme was a single sheet of paper. Myself and a mate also hung around the ground for a bit and met some of the players, some of whom signed the back of the sheet.
One that did not sign (as l don't recall meeting him) was Reading's Robin Friday, who went on to become a cult hero at both Reading and Cardiff City, despite only playing a couple of seasons for both.  He was a wayward lad, drinking, shagging, drugging, being banned from pubs, and certainly a man who did his own thing, despite the consequences.  He was also a great lower league player who was skillful and gave everything in a match, which is why the fans of both clubs loved him (and still do).
There's a great book about him by Paulo Hewitt and Paul 'Guigsy' McGuigan (from Oasis), which is well worth reading called The Robin Friday Story (The Greatest Footballer You Never Saw).  Luckily, my piece of paper from this game proves l did see him play. Sadly, he died when he was 38 from a suspected heroin overdose (according to Hewitt).
On a related note, because l was into music as well, l often wondered why myself and mates didn't bother with the Reading Festival, which was pretty much on our doorstep.  Then l saw a poster of the line up and realised why.  I have grown to love The Sensational Alex Harvey Band and Kevin Coyne, and the older me would watch George Melly and Ronnie Lane, but at the time it was all Marc Bolan and T.Rex, Sweet, Status Quo and Deep Purple.  This Reading line up would have meant nothing to us at the time, and my first Reading Festival had to wait until 1977.

toodle pip

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