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150 Not Out: Reading fan hits consecutive match landmark following Barnsley draw

150 Not Out: Reading fan hits consecutive match landmark following Barnsley draw <i>(Image: Simeon Pickup)</i>

150 Not Out: Reading fan hits consecutive match landmark following Barnsley draw (Image: Simeon Pickup)

‘We are staying up’ cried the 800-strong away end at Oakwell on Saturday as news filtered through that due to results elsewhere, the Royals’ League One safety had been assured.

However, for 29-year-old Simeon Pickup, there was a personal achievement to celebrate too as the entertaining 2-2 draw marked the fanatical fan’s 150th consecutive Reading match.

Starting immediately after the Covid-19 break, in August 2021, Pickup has attended every league and cup match for the past three years.

“It’s one of those where it wasn’t an ambition right from the start- I never sat there and said ‘I’m going to do 150 games’ but coming out of Covid where we missed loads of games, I just wanted to get to as many games as I could,” Pickup told the Reading Chronicle. “I did all of the games in the 2021/22 season and I thought that I wanted to do it again, so I went through 2022/23 without missing games.”

Not choosing the best time to undertake the task, Reading have finished in the bottom 10 of their respective division in each of the last three seasons, which included a run of 370 days without a win away from home and two FA Cup exits at the hands of non-league minnows Eastleigh and Kidderminster Harriers.

“There has been an awful lot of stress with train strikes and not knowing how I’ll get to a game, or back from a game. It’s been worth it- I’m proud of it. It’s quite a lot of stubbornness. There have been runs without a shot on target but it’s always enjoyable to keep plugging away. You need a bit of blind optimism. As I got nearer 100 I was like ‘I’m not giving up now.’ When you get past there, you’re well into the swing of it and you get into the habit. At this point, I’ve forgotten what it feels like to miss a game.”

As you would expect in a run of almost three entire years, the editor of the Tilehurst End podcast was reliant on a forgiving friend and family network to minimalise disruptions to non-football events.

Reading Chronicle:

Reading Chronicle:

“My family have been very supportive,” Pickup commented. “My parents’ birthday is in the middle of March and they wanted a family getaway in 2022. They had their getaway in Lincoln so I could still get to (Nottingham) Forest and back. We got battered 4-0 at the City Ground. My family have been very helpful and supportive, as have my friends. I wouldn’t have been able to get to Cheltenham or Peterborough over the festive period. I don’t really drive but my best mate drove so we could do the games. Without them, I wouldn’t be able to do it.”

As one would expect, following the Royals has not been the most enjoyable experience for supporters since the return from the pandemic. The Royals won just three matches on the road in the 2022/23 season but failed to win between November 2022 and November 2023.

Reading Chronicle:

Reading Chronicle:

Unsurprisingly, the club’s 2-1 win over Wycombe Wanderers in November was a high point of Pickup’s run.

“I forgot how good and enjoyable an away day felt,” Sim joked. “In the Paul Ince season, we had a couple of away wins but they were quite miserable, scraping wins. For Wycombe, there were thousands of people there just absolutely elated. I was there with Ben Thomas, my good mate, and being able to share that with so many people was fantastic. Since then we’ve had Carlisle, Stevenage and Bristol Rovers and they all felt special. If you’re a fan of a bigger club you get used to winning away from home but after the sheer number of dross games, you do value and cherish those moments.

Reading Chronicle:

Reading Chronicle:

“There was a particularly horrible week where we lost 2-1 at Kidderminster on the Saturday, on the Tuesday lost 7-0 against Fulham and on the Saturday we had to go up to Middlesbrough. We were winning, Andy Carroll got a header in the second half, and I thought we were going to win but they won 2-1. The amount of misery is character development.”

Off-field issues have dominated the last 18 months, with the stability of the club coming into question under the turbulent ownership of Chinese businessman Dai Yongge.

As with all supporters, the question of what life would be like without the football club was a pertinent one for Simeon and one where the answer contributed strongly to his desire to push on with his current record.

Reading Chronicle:

Reading Chronicle:

“Occasionally the thought has come to my head (not attending) but I’ve never seriously considered it. Football is part of my life. Every Saturday I go to a game- it wouldn’t feel the same if I wasn’t at a game. If I had the opportunity to go to a game and didn’t, it would feel wrong. When the club was in real dire straights, with the Wycombe takeover of the training ground, I was genuinely questioning if we were going to have a club next season and what my life was going to be like. When something is that big in your life, it’s hard to countenance replacing it.”

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