Post by somersetstokie on Nov 7, 2020 20:25:33 GMT
Warning! Contains some material that a few readers might find to be distressing.
When we were last in the second tier of English football, in 2004, we were participating in the newly created Championship, in our first spell of management under Tony Pulis. On the first Saturday of November, just like today and just after Bonfire Night, on Saturday November 6th, Stoke played at Reading and we lost 1-0. This of course was Stoke's infamous Binary season and after a good start to the season, with Stoke going top of the table in early September, any hopes of a promotion push soon vanished with some poor performances and most notably a lack of goals being scored. In fact Stoke went on a run of 'binary' results, from 23 October 2004 to 22 February 2005 the only score line was that of 0–0, 1–0, 0–1 and 1–1. Supporters began to vent their anger at the lack of entertainment on offer as the side fell into mid-table obscurity and a final finish of 12th.
However, despite the monotony of the Binary season I remember that particular game at Reading really well, even though, in the event, I didn't attend and I wasn't there. At the time we had a little place in a village in rural Somerset, and that day 6th November we were hosting a Bonfire party with guests, so quite a big do. Early in the day on Saturday morning I decided that I wanted to go to the Reading game, which was quite straightforward as regards a plan. We had an excellent small local country Station at Castle Cary, on the Paddington to Penzance line. Readers who have attended the Glastonbury Festival by train will know it as the drop off point for the festival, with Reading being about 80 minutes away. No problem to get there to Reading and back but the "missus" stopped me going, on some spurious excuse that there was a lot of party preparation to do, and she also didn't want me to miss any of the celebrations.
Saturday 6th November 2004 was the day of the Reading train crash. On that evening the 17:35 Paddington to Plymouth fast train, which had stopped at Reading as the 17.55 to Plymouth, was travelling at around 100 miles an hour when it was derailed as it struck a stationary van on a level crossing at Ufton Nervet, just to the west of Reading, at 6.00pm. The train was then carrying 300 passengers and tragically the car driver, train driver and four passengers died at the scene; whilst another passenger died a few hours later in hospital. Around half of the passengers on board were injured and there were 76 significant casualties, besides the 7 people who died. 61 of the injured were taken to the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading, where the major incident plan was activated.
The train, the 17.55 from Reading to points west, was the train that I would have returned on if I'd gone to the match, so perhaps I was really lucky not to have been on board. Every year now at 6.00pm on 6th November, when I'm home, I light a candle in memory of the victims of that tragic crash.
I also then remember another major rail accident that affected me profoundly. As a fairly frequent visitor by rail to London I arrive in the Capital from the West at Paddington, and I can never approach the station without thinking of yet another rail disaster there, the Ladbroke Grove rail crash (also known as the Paddington rail crash) which occurred on 5 October 1999. With 31 people killed and 417 injured, it was one of the worst rail accidents in 20th century British history.
A morbid tale I know, but it struck me as being particularly poignant this weekend as it was yet another Bonfire night event, or close to, and we were once again fated to play at Reading.
Post by somersetstokie on Nov 7, 2020 20:38:41 GMT
Yeah, I wasn't fully aware of the tragic event until quite late in the evening and it certainly shook me up. As evidenced by my very strong memory of that day even so many years later. Something like that really puts a game of football into perspective.
Chilling and one not to dwell on. I used to take a train through Wimbledon and occasionally up to Clapham Junction and every day the same trains would come through and as a late teen i was late and missed one I occasionally jumped on and was the one that crashed near Clapham in late 1988. A case of a bullet dodged