30 June 2016
It has been a sad couple of weeks for me. First. I had to say my last good bye's to two very good friends and then last Monday we heard of the death of Reading FC's Academy Director, Eammon Dolan.
It was with a heavy heart that I attended the funerals of Alan Lewis and Johnny Brooks.
Alan played as left back for Reading between 1977 and 1982 under the great Maurice Evans. He was a major influence in the very successful Fourth Division Championship winning side of 1978/79. "Lewey" was a great man and supported the association on many occasions.
The last time we saw Alan at Madejski Stadium was for the visit of Derby County in September. He was a big County fan and started his career with them under the legendary Brian Clough in the early seventies.
It said a lot of Alan and, indeed, the closeness of Maurice Evans' squad of '78/79, when the majority of that squad turned out to honour him at his funeral service.
It was heartening to see Pat Earles and Paul Bennett travel up from Southampton, joining former team-mates, Steve Hetzke, Mark White, Mike Kearney, Steve Wood, Stuart Beavon, Wayne Wanklyn, Jerry Williams and Ken Price at Alan's side.
Last week, I joined former Reading players Bobby Williams and John Sainty and a number of representatives from Spurs, Chelsea, Brentford and Stevenage to honour Reading born, England international, Johnny Brooks.
Johnny was born in Caversham and played for Coley Boys Club before stepping up to play for Reading FC during the late Forties and early Fifties. After making only 49 appearances at Elm Park, he was soon snapped up by Bill Nicholson's great Spurs team in 1953.
In 1956, he made his England debut scoring in England's 3-1 win and made two further England appearances against Yugoslavia and Denmark.
Always a fit man, I had the privilege to play against him in a 5-a-side tournament at Elm Park in 1997 to mark the closure of the old ground. Needless to say, he beat me to the ball every time. I was 35... he was 66!
I bought a copy of the local paper whilst visiting him at his home in Bournemouth and was astonished to read that he was, at last, hanging up his boots after playing a series of charity matches... he was then aged 74!
To Alan and Johnny, we thank you for the memories.
Last week we heard of the sad death of Eammon Dolan at only 48 years of age.
I had the privilege of working with Eammon with the Under 21's and enjoyed his company at a number of social events. He was truly a great man. He was an inspiration to the boys in the Academy, and a warm and kind human being. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him.
This Blog represents the personal thoughts and opinions of Richard Wickson and does not necessarily reflect the policy or views of the Reading FC Former Players' Association