The Ultimate Play-Off Final: Reading Greatest XI Vs Swansea City Greatest XI

Ahead of the Play-Off Final this evening, Iestyn George looks at the best Swansea team of all-time and Tom Greaney does the same for Reading...
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Ahead of the Play-Off Final this evening, Iestyn George looks at the best Swansea team of all-time and Tom Greaney does the same for Reading...

Greatest Ever Reading XI

GK. Shaka Hislop

A former Nasa intern, Shaka was an absolute hero in goal. He was integral to our Division 2 winning side in 1994 and finally left for Newcastle for what was then a British record for a goalkeeper of 1.575 million. Although through the years he did earn the nickname of “Shaky” Shaka. 8

RB. Graeme Murty

When Reading went up in 2006, Murty was earmarked by many as someone who would not be able to step up to the level of the Premiership. They were wrong. He was magnificent. Murty was an assured leader and a great crosser of the ball. 8

CB.Dariusz Wdowczyk

Signed from Celtic near the end of his career Darius was a real class act. My main memory of Dariusz, is him coming up to take every free kick outside the area and whacking every single one into the wall. However I remember a really solid defender.9

CB. Adie Williams

Williams was one of the those few players who start off at a club, do well, get a move and then return a few years later only to be better than when he left. Another real leader at the back, he was part of two great periods for the club. 8

LB. Nicky Shorey

One of the classiest players to wear the hoops. A great left peg and cool under pressure. The only Reading player to represent England in my lifetime. Though has been unable to reproduce his fine form for Reading at Villa/Fulham/West Brom. His greatest performance was the 6-0 win over Reading where he controlled the game from left back. 9

RM. Glen Little

The White Pele. Little proved that you don’t always need pace in the modern game. He could and did take it past anyone and everyone. He created 14 assists in the 2006 season. Then Reading’s inability to replace him, due to injury, on the right in our second season in the Premiership was one of the key reasons for relegation. 9

CM. Phil Parkinson

Probably the least naturally talented player to make the XI, Parky was all heart and effort. He makes the team because of his tradition of sprinting out of the tunnel at the start of the game and his crunching tackles. 7

CM. Simon Osborne

The first truly skillful player I ever saw wear the shirt. When Osborne played the crowd applauded. He could spray cross filed passes that the Elm Park crowd had only ever dreamed of. Could take a mean free kick. 8

LM. Michael Gilkes

Gilkes was the classic football league winger; extremely fast and extremely inconsistent. He spent 13 years with the club and few things got the South Bank on their feet with a cry of “Go on Gilkesy” like one of his sprints down the wing after a ball from Dylan Kerr. He also had a gold tooth. 8

CF. Jimmy Quinn

71 goals in 182 appearances. Quinn represented a total of 18 clubs in his career but starred at Reading scoring 35 league goals in the 1994 Division Two winning season, the highest in the football league that season. Few supporters will forget him rising to head in the winner as Reading won the Division two title and the fans stormed the pitch in celebration. 9

CF. Robin Friday

I never saw him play. Few did. But it would be foolish to leave out the Greatest Footballer You Never Saw™. Clive Thomas, World Cup Final referee, witnessed his best ever goal. After the strike Thomas turned to Friday and said: "I have to tell you that that is the best goal I have ever seen." To which Friday replied. “Really? You should come down here more often, I do that every week." 10

Manager. Steve Coppell

Sir Steve is an interesting character with an amazing career. It would seem he either transforms a club such as he did with Reading or Crystal Palace or leaves in mysterious circumstances such as at Manchester or Bristol City. Either way, he managed the greatest ever Reading team to 8th in the Premier League. 10

Total: 102

Greatest Ever Swansea City XI

GK. Roger Freestone

All time appearances record for Swans, who, if truth were told, have not been blessed with the most secure custodians in the game over the decades. Anyone familiar with the name Gary Sprake…? 8

RB. Wyndham Evans

Exponent of the classic school of defending where you left your mark on the opposition in the first 10 minutes. If that didn’t break them, you just kept on dishing it out until it did. A folk hero, in the true sense of the word. 8

LB. Wilfred Milne

The Northumberland League player played 586 times for Swansea over 16 seasons spanning the 1920s and 30s. If you’re looking for a Brian Glanville-style analysis of his playing qualities you’ve come to the wrong place. His place is secured on the basis of valiant years of service and the Wikipedia entry stating that he was signed from Walker Celtic for the price of a fish supper and a cup of tea. 8

CB. Ante Rajkovic

It wasn’t only Ipswich that went for the cut-price version of the Argentinian pair that Spurs signed after the ’78 World Cup. Town bought Mühren and Thyssen, City went for Bosnians Dzemal Hadziabdic and Ante Raikovic. The former was a creative left-back who won’t be the only one scratching his head at his omission from the greatest Swansea team of all time. Ante Raikovic was a stopper with skill – largely unheard of at the time, where you were either a clogger or a fairy. And he also played sweeper. Madness! 9

CB. Mel Charles

So tempting to have a father and son combination at centre back - Mel’s injury-plagued son Jeremy played for Toshack’s Swansea side and Wales. All three Charles boys (Mel’s brother was called John – you might have heard of him) played successfully at the heart of defence and at centre-forward. Which is bonkers, when you think of it. 8

CM. Ian Callaghan

My head says John Mahoney, as he and Robbie James could boss the centre of the park while the rest indulge themselves in their creative flights of fancy. Mahoney was chiefly a mainstay for Stoke City and Wales, but his contribution to the Toshack era is completely underappreciated. But this isn’t real life, so Ian Callaghan, Liverpool FC legend, gets the freedom of the centre circle, just as he did when he moved from Anfield to The Vetch Field in 1978. The former wingman was a joy to watch at Swansea and was instrumental in the club’s rise up the divisions. 9

CM. Robbie James

He of the barrel chest and the hotshot Hamish tendency from anywhere around the box, James played like an unreconstructed Jimmy Case and shared a penchant for the kind of bad moustache that littered the pages of Panini annuals throughout the 70s and 80s. 7

LM. Ivor Allchurch

Ridiculous to find yourself deleting Cliff Jones’ name from any list of football greats, but when it comes to making your mark on Swansea City, there are very few that match Ivor Allchurch, who scored 164 goals in two spells at the club, ghosting past defenders with ease and striking the ball effortlessly with his cultured left peg.10

RM. Leighton James

Every team of the early 80s seemed obliged to have someone haring down the wing like a startled, er, hare, unruly mop of blond hair trailing close behind. Leighton James was more than a contractual obligation. Swansea to the core, he was suspended from his punditry gig by the BBC for anti-Cardiff City remarks made in his newspaper column. 10

ST. Alan Curtis

If you remember anything about Curtis it’s likely to be his perm and the boyish grin he wore whenever he scored. He was the perfect fit for the Toshack side of the early 80s – effervescent and eager to the last. Swansea had had its share of great homegrown strikers – Dean Saunders arguably the greatest of them all – but Curtis was the best by a long way. 9

CF John Toshack

it would be churlish not to include Tosh in a list of Swansea greats, even though his best playing days were behind him by the time he arrived at The Vetch. As manager he took the Swans from the Third Division to the top flight – undeniably the most exciting era in the club’s history. Yet the Cardiffian remains a hugely respected but curiously unloved character in his adopted home. Funny that… 8

Player/ Manager. John Toshack

Despite what I've said above it can't really be anyone else, Martinez had us playing the best football and Rodgers might reach the promised land but what Tosh achieved borders on the ridiculous. 9

Total: 103

Swansea shade it by a point.

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