An open top bus parade was held in the pouring rain to celebrate Reading winning the Championship in the 2011-12 season Phil Creighton, Steve Prince, Martyn Strong

After a four-year gap, Reading FC are returning to the Premier League after winning the Championship. Here Reading FC’s Chaplain Steve Prince gives an insight into the night when a single goal got the promotion party started – and looks at what happens next.

The celebrations started big-time as the final whistle was blown by the referee at the end of a tense game against Nottingham Forest on Tuesday, April 17.

After putting us through an emotional roller coaster, Reading FC achieved phenomenal success by gaining promotion to football’s top flight after a four-year absence.The game itself was nervy and anxious but as news filtered through about West Ham’s draw at Bristol City, the crowd started to sing “score a goal and we are up”. The team duly obliged and the goal was scrambled in – and the Mad Stad erupted as if the next 10 minutes of the game didn’t matter. When the final whistle blew, the crowds rushed on to the pitch and the players were exalted and honoured as the heroes they are. One of the very special characteristics of Reading FC is that it really is a team. Promotion to the Premier League has twice been achieved by teams who have worked hard together rather than through the efforts of one or two “superstars”.Behind the scenes there are also strong teams of people who work together with similar values and common purpose. Running through the club is a rich vein of leadership at every level and in every department. There is also a pastoral prayer team which meets at the stadium every Friday to pray for the health and well-being of everyone associated with the club.Promotion brings its own challenges but, as chairman Sir John Madejski has said, there is a Reading way of doing things which includes ensuring that good foundations are sustained and that the club’s role in the community continues to grow and develop. The investment of new major shareholder, Anton Zingarevich should help provide further resources to help Reading FC establish itself at the higher level.All the talk is of strategic spending that will help further strengthen foundations.Come on URZ!!

v Steve is pastor of Brookside Church, Earley