By Glenn Goudie and Tom Canning
Reading YMCA have an unbeaten record that spans three Thames Valley Premier League seasons.
The record stretches back to 19th March 2016 when Reading YMCA last lost a league fixture and this Saturday they host Woodley United Royals looking to extend their unbeaten run to 59 games.
It is a remarkable achievement for the Padworth based side who have become a force in the recently rebranded Thames Valley Premier League – previously the Reading Senior League.
Since they won their second Senior Division title in the 2012-13 season, the Young Men have not finished outside of the top two. They have added three more league titles and are now hunting down the record of four consecutive league titles won by Forest Old Boys. Current chairman Mark Lemm was in charge during the first title season.
Manager Karl Curtis took over an already successful side led by current Vice Chairman of the club, Glenn Goudie after the latter won the league title, BTC Cup and the clubs highest honour to date, the Berks & Bucks FA Intermediate Cup during his three year tenure.
Curtis though has firmly established his side as the dominant team in the TVPL. His side has lifted their third consecutive league title, two Maidenhead Norfolkian Cups and he added another league cup trophy to the YMCA trophy cabinet.
Football in Bracknell caught up with Karl as he prepares for his teams game at Padworth.
What have been the key to your team’s success?
To begin with, they’re all good players, but to achieve what we have over the last few seasons has needed more than that; commitment, honesty, good discipline, a burning desire to win, a refusal to accept defeat and they all look after themselves, their fitness levels are without doubt the best in our league.
The teams 58 games unbeaten run is very impressive, what factors have helped you achieve this remarkable run?
The fact that we’ve had the same squad available for pretty much every game throughout April and May was key; there was huge pressure on us in terms of the number of games we had to play and also the small matter of overhauling Woodcote Stoke Row when they were 15 points clear!
Having the same, settled squad game after game whilst the pressure was on as we chased 3 trophies brought the lads tighter together and their collective desire to end the season as top dogs was frightening; after the draw at Woodcote in mid-March, we’ve been on a relentless run of 15 consecutive victories in all competitions and we’ve scored goals galore during that run.
I think the other significant factor was the experience we’d had of being champions the last two years, together with the fact that we badly wanted to put right what happened in the league cup final at Madjeski Stadium at the end of last season.
You obviously have a very talented squad of players but who deserves special mention?
It has truly been a squad effort this season where everybody has consistently performed well, right from the start way back in August, which is reflected in the fact that, in 37 games in all competitions, nobody has beaten us in 90 minutes; our only defeat was in the county cup third round on penalties against Langley and we’ve won 35 of those matches.
Ashley Searle and Ryan Adams have scored 67 goals between them, so they’ve been massive for us and the defensive unit, no matter who has played has been magnificent, with only 12 goals conceded in 25 league games, which is far and away the best in the Premier Division.
What’s the goal next season?
The same as any other season; to win a trophy. For me, the biggest one is always the league and the challenge for us next season is to go for it again to see if we can equal the record of 4 consecutive titles, set by Forest Old Boys back in 2001.
If we can keep the same squad of players, and can again count on the tremendous help we get off the pitch from the club and committee, we’ll have every reason to be confident.
Main image: Reading YMCA at Madejski Stadium by Andy Awbery.