The Royals’ Prince: behind the scenes of Reading FC with chaplain Steve Prince

The importance of team

On a bright and incredibly hot Saturday afternoon, and in a fantastic carnival atmosphere of colour and noise, the Royals started their Premier League season against Stoke City. A 1-1 draw is probably alright when you think about how many top teams have stumbled against a physically strong Stoke team. The introduction of several new summer signings inevitably means it will take a few matches for the players to weld together as a team.
I am sure most of the nation felt somewhat subdued after the closure of the Olympic Games. It was so refreshing hearing the national news starting with the day’s good news stories from the Olympics – then there was the continual stream of success stories rather than our usual cynical view of such momentous occasions.

Many have spoken about legacy flowing out of having held very successful games here in the UK. It was exciting to hear interviews with children and young people about how they had been inspired to try news sports. Another inspiring development since the Olympics is that there are reports of an upsurge in people volunteering to help with community projects and charities. What a great legacy if people are able to give of themselves to others – potentially a great antidote to the oppressive nature of recession and difficult economic times.

Much of Reading FC’s success in recent years has included the development and opportunities afforded to young footballers. This is set to continue as investment from the new owner is to focus on a long term strategy of strengthening the clubs already successful academy.It was interesting to hear Andy Murray speaking about the importance of being part of Team GB and that this contributed to his fantastic Olympic success. One of the biggest challenges any manager has at the start of a new football season is to quickly foster a strong sense of team. We have seen so often that a group of talented individuals do not necessarily make a great team, whilst a team consisting of less individual talent can achieve great things when they work and relate together well. At Reading we have a great manager, Brian McDermott who is very able at re-building new teams. As supporters we just need to have the patience needed to help encourage this process as it unfolds match by match.One thing the new owner, Anton Zingarevich, is very keen to see improve is the general atmosphere and singing at the Mad Stad on matchdays. Obviously good, exciting football helps a great deal but maybe us Royals fans from across the churches can also help with our background of giving our best in song singing. There can be little that is more encouraging to a player than when he hears the whole crowd chanting his name in unison.By the time this article is published, we’ll have played three of four games already. Whatever happened in these games, we know we are involved with a team that is well able to sustain good form when it really matters. As the off-pitch team of supporters and followers, let’s give our best to creating a fantastic atmosphere for the team to perform.

Come on URZ!!

Steve Prince is Reading FC Chaplain and the Pastor of Brookside Church