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  Wednesday, 6 March, 2002, 12:58 GMT
London Irish - Madejski stadium
The Madejski stadium  - home to London Irish RFC
The Madejski stadium is also home to Reading FC
By BBC Sport Online's Ed King

Madejski stadium - Capacity 24,200

The Madejski lies in a barren area consisting of large roundabouts and grandly named business parks, but don't let that deceive you.

Inside, the pitch is surrounded by a magnificent bowl of a stadium, explaining perhaps why the ground has also been used by the RFU for cup semi-finals, and for the 2001 European Shield final.

The problem for London Irish is that for most games, the crowd can indeed marvel at the Madejski's sparkling blue seats - as they struggle to fill half of it.

Commercially, a great success, but there must be a few who long for the dilapidated glory of Sunbury.

Where to stand/sit?

On match days only the west and east stands are open, both of which offer excellent views, unobstructed by pillars or floodlights. Both come equally recommended.

Pubs to visit:

The Swan at Three Mile Cross. The London Irish supporters pub, and home to Irish Wolfhound 'Jumbo' the club mascot. Landlords Vic and Jenny also provide good home-cooked food at a reasonable price.

This is 10-15 minutes walk from the Madejski Stadium - at M4 J11 take the A33 towards Basingstoke and first left at the next roundabout.

Town centre

Blagrave Arms. A traditional and warm pub with a big sports screen, a few minutes walk from the station. Must be one of the only places where Biltong and Ostrich are freely available. Blagrave St.

Scruffy Murphys. Popular with London Irish fans before the match, this scruffy Irish establishment offers all you need - excellent Guinness Extra Cold on tap and ferry listings for the homeland. Greyfriars Rd.

Restaurants:

London Irish's South African coach Brendan Venter in action against Leeds Tykes
Irish player/coach Brendan Venter

London St Brasserie. The epitome of Reading chic, overlooking the canal in light and airy surroundings. They specialise in continental fare and seafood, presumably not caught in the canal. Duke St. 01189 505036. 10 mins from station.

Oracle centre. Host to a bewildering variety of theme restaurants and cafes, overlooking the canal. Should cater for any tastes. 10 mins from station.

Top tip

Take all of Reading's pedestrian signs with a pinch of salt, as someone seems to have turned some the wrong way. In one case, Reading station was located somewhere towards Basingstoke.

Directions:

Car:

Exit the M4 at J11, and head for Reading on the A33. At the first roundabout, take the second left onto the Reading relief road. Continue straight on and the stadium will appear on your left.

Train:

Reading is well served with services from London and the Midlands.

Park and ride buses run from the station to the Madejski every 15 minutes.

London Irish supporters coaches leave from various locations around South west London. Call the club for details.

Did you know?

London Irish set a world record for Guinness consumption on 17 March 2001. The total was 23,452 pints, and they are planning to beat it next year.

What to do with the other half who hates Rugby?

Reading Museum is worth a visit, if only to see Reading's version of the Bayeaux tapestry, put together in 1885.

Further on up the Thames at Henley lies the acclaimed River and Rowing Museum, where you can see the boat that Redgrave, Pinsent et al rowed to victory in Sydney 2000.

Prices:

Advance bookings: Adult -16, Concess - 12, U-11 - 5

Matchday: Adult -20, Concess - 12, U-11 - 5

Disabled - 6

Ratings:

  • Atmosphere: 6
  • Access: 9
  • Toilets: 7
  • Location: 3
  • Bars: 7
  • Pies: 6
  • Disabled facilities: 9

Contact details:

Club: 01932 783034


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