This is the start of my tenth season as chaplain at Reading FC. Joking with one of the coaching staff recently he said that perhaps I should have a testimonial!
During my tenure as chaplain I have experienced four managers and lots of success as the club has enjoyed its best ever years. Three seasons in the Premier League have been a real achievement and The Royals are now a recognised footballing name globally.
The start of every season brings a renewed sense of hopes and dreams and, despite relegation last season, the feeling is that the Royals should mount a genuine challenge once again. Nigel Adkins has strengthened the team with the additions of Wayne Bridge, Royston Drenthe and Danny Williams. Alex Pearce and Hal Robson-Kanu have both signed new contracts.
At time of going to press, three games of the season have been played resulting in a victory against Ipswich Town, and two draws against Bolton and Watford. During the games we could see a new Reading emerging with some great passing football – especially in the second half of the first two matches.
There has been lots of change at Reading FC, not only have the management team changed but also the ownership and directors have been added to since Anton has arrived.
Change can be painful. Some people have lost their jobs as a result of changes and relegation. Where possible I have sought to listen to some of these people as they deal with the full impact of change. Sometimes we all get faced with changes that affect us greatly. Some changes can feel like a bereavement and it can take time to adjust.
As a Christian I take great comfort and confidence in knowing that God is at work, using every situation and challenge I face to bring some good through these times for my benefit. It may not feel that a positive outcome is somewhere ahead but because God really is a good Father, He will care for my needs – both those I am aware of and those I am ignorant of. It’s partly through living in the light of the security God provides for me that I can help people to see Him in my role as chaplain.
Another significant change at the club is the achievement of the top academy status – some Premier League teams don’t even have this. This means a better future in developing younger players and we saw evidence of the importance of this as our U21’s recently beat Newcastle 4-2.
I hope that all supporters of Reading FC enjoy another exciting and special season. Together the teams on and off the pitch can work together to produce an environment that helps the players play with the kind of confidence that brings success.
Steve Prince is Reading FC Chaplain and the Pastor of Brookside Church