Trevor Morley in awe of his old club Reading FCBy Jonny Fordham
May 14, 2012
Southbank hero Trevor Morley can’t quite believe his eyes.
The no-nonsense striker hasn’t stepped foot in Reading since he left the club in 1998 following his three-year spell, in which he netted 38 times in 90 appearances.
Things have come a long way in those 14 years.
Elm Park was swapped for Madejski Stadium just as Morley left the club for Brann in Norway.
The 51-year-old’s boots have since been traded in for a microphone at Norwegian station TV 2 where he works as their leading pundit on top-flight English football.
“I had three great years at Reading,” recalls Morley, who joined on a free transfer from West Ham United in August 1995, just months after Royals’ 4-3 play-off final defeat to Bolton Wanderers that saw them miss out on Premier League football.
“I did pretty well for Reading, but I had two horrendous injuries, I fractured my skull (and needed a metal plate in his head to repair the damage) and did my knee in.
“I really enjoyed the club, the fans and the town.
“Sir John Madejski actually thanked me the other day and said I was a bit of a brick to help them stay up in the First Division for two years and set things in place. That was really nice of him.
“I got player-of-the-year in my second season and at one stage in February I had 23 league goals.
“I was the top scorer in all four divisions and I had never done that in my career. I was 36-years-old at the time and those were great memories.
“We had a couple of great cup victories too. We won at Elland Road in the League Cup and that was a fantastic night. We had a youth team when I was there, but nothing like what there is now.
“The training facilities are top class. Reading used to have an awful training pitch, but the team spirit was always there.
“Micky Gooding and Jimmy Quinn did a great job and were so close to getting the club into the Premier League.
“The club is still the same community club it was when I was there. There is that vibe all the way through and that is reflected in their team spirit too.
“But the set-up here now is brilliant, it’s like a different world. Elm Park had its charm and we had some great times there, but the new stadium is built for top-flight football.
“I’ve seen the stadium on TV, but this was the first time I’ve been here. I stood out on the pitch and just thought ‘wow’.
“And then to see the Championship trophy in the trophy room was fantastic. I never thought they would be here, never.
“The fact that things have come on so much is brilliant. It’s been a gradual process as well, it’s not been overnight.”
Royals have broken back into the Premier League for the second time in their 141-year history thanks largely to manager Brian McDermott.
Steve Coppell was the first man to steer the club to the top flight in 2006, but McDermott’s achievements have eclipsed that of Coppell’s as he rose to hero status.
“Brian joined the club not long after I left,” continued Morley.
“I think with all the merry-go-round of managers that you see, to bring in Brian is testament to the club.
"He wasn’t a household name and I’m sure there were a lot of people who would have taken the job here. So it’s great that Reading gave him the chance and he has been absolutely brilliant and done a fantastic job so far.
“We’ve seen what Swansea and Norwich have done this year and I think Reading will be in a similar mould.
“I know fans will want them to splash the cash, but I don’t think they will do it that way and pay massive wages.”
Bustling centre-forward Morley believes that Reading star Jason Roberts will also be crucial to their success next season.
The January signing from relegated Blackburn Rovers was the same age as Morley was when he joined the club.
Roberts’ physical presence on the pitch today is similar to Morley’s back in the 1990s.
“Jason has made a big impact and I’ve always liked him as a player,” said Morley.
“He’s a quality footballer and I always thought he was under used at Blackburn and that irritated me. You can see he is a good lad as well and I’m sure he will bang some goals in next season.
“The captain Jobi McAnuff and goalkeeper Adam Federici will also be important players for them this season.
"McAnuff is a decent player and Federici looks like he has the makings of being a top keeper in the Premier League.”
Loyal Royals are likely to see more of their former striker in the coming months as he hopes to return to the Mad Stad as part of his on-going TV work.
And he believes Royals might even pick up a few fans in Scandinavia this season.
He added: “They are massive supporters of the Premier League in Norway and they always follow closely the three teams that come up.”