Football: Sidelines - Unhappy relations for Royals family

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas

Editor

If his last two visits to Reading are anything to go by, Mark McGhee should brace himself for a rancorous reception today. The Wolves manager's crime was to forsake the Berkshire club for Leicester, although he left them in far better shape than when he arrived, adding the Second Division title to their modest honours list in 1994.

As if McGhee's presence were not enough to rile Royals fans, he brings with him several former Elm Park men. His assistants Colin Lee and Mike Hickman for starters, plus two ex-Reading players in Keith Curle and Simon Osborn. But for injury there would have been two more, Adrian Williams and Michael Gilkes.

The links between the clubs pre-date all the hot air over McGhee. Billy Beats, an early prototype for Steve Bull who was England's centre-forward on the day of the Ibrox disaster in 1902, had two spells as player-trainer of Reading. Valentine Gregory, who owed his first name to being born on 14 February 1888, captained Wolves in the 1921 FA Cup final after starting with Reading.

Sammy Chung, a former Molineux manager, played for Reading when they were still the Biscuitmen, while Floyd Streete, Nigel Vaughan and Mike Gooding have also served both. As co-manager of Reading until last summer, Gooding delivered three successive victories over Wolves and McGhee. The most recent, in April, came after they had gone into stoppage time trailing 1-0 and left a certain Scot speechless.

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