<< Seasons 1915-19 >>

The outbreak of the First World War did not cause the Football and Southern Leagues to be suspended until the end of the 1914-15 season. Several Reading players joined up, with four dying in action, including Allen Foster. Foster's strike partner, Joe Bailey, who was to score Reading's first Football League goal in 1920, reached the rank of Captain and won the DSO and Military Cross.

In 1915-16, Reading entered a team in the Supplementary Tournament of the London Combination, a secondary competition starting in February, having been refused entry into the main competition. The league was divided into two sections, and each team played against the seven teams from the other section.

London Combination Table

                        PL   W  D  L  GF  GA  PTS
 1. Chelsea             22  17  3  2  71  18   37
 2. Millwall            22  12  6  4  46  24   30
 3. Arsenal             22  10  5  7  43  46   25
 4. West Ham Utd        22  10  4  8  47  35   24
 5. Fulham              22  10  4  8  45  37   24
 6. Tottenham H         22   8  8  6  38  35   24
 7. Brentford           22   6  8  8  36  40   20
 8. Queens Park Rang    22   8  3 11  27  41   19
 9. Crystal Palace      22   8  3 11  35  55   19
10. Watford             22   8  1 13  37  46   17
11. Clapton Orient      22   4  6 12  22  44   14
12. Croydon Common      22   3  5 14  24  50   11
London Combination (Supplementary) (14th)
                        PL   W  D  L  GF  GA  PTS     H    A  
 1. Chelsea             14  10  1  3  50  15   21     -    -  
 2. West Ham Utd        14   9  2  3  32  16   20    0-4  0-7 
 3. Tottenham H         14   8  3  3  32  22   19     -    -  
 4. Fulham              14   9  0  5  38  19   18    0-4  0-6 
 5. Crystal Palace      14   8  2  4  41  29   18    1-1  1-10
 6. Millwall            14   8  2  4  30  22   18     -    -  
 7. Watford             14   5  3  6  22  20   13     -    -  
 8. Brentford           14   5  2  7  29  33   12     -    -  
 9. Croydon Common*     14   4  3  7  28  27   11    4-2  2-10
10. Clapton Orient      14   3  4  7  17  27   10     -    -  
11. Arsenal*            14   3  4  7  19  31   10    1-1  1-4 
12. Luton Town          14   4  1  9  31  44    9    4-2  2-9 
13. Queens Park Rang    14   2  5  7  14  37    9    1-2  6-2 
14. READING             14   3  2  9  23  64    8

    * Croydon Common resigned
    * Arsenal previously known as Woolwich Arsenal

In the following season, Reading entered the main London Combination tournament, but it was soon clear that a lack of players was causing too many problems, and they resigned in October 1916 after just seven games. Note that not all teams completed their fixtures.

London Combination (Resigned)

                        PL   W  D  L  GF  GA  PTS     H    A  
 1. West Ham Utd        40  30  5  5 110  45   65     -   1-5 
 2. Millwall            40  26  6  8  85  48   58     -    -  
 3. Chelsea             40  24  5 11  93  48   53     -   0-6 
 4. Tottenham H         40  24  5 11 112  64   53    2-4   -  
 5. Arsenal             40  19 10 11  62  47   48     -    -  
 6. Fulham              40  21  3 16 102  63   45     -   0-9 
 7. Luton Town*         39  20  3 16 101  82   43     -    -  
 8. Crystal Palace      38  14  7 17  68  72   35     -   3-5 
 9. Southampton*        39  13  8 18  57  80   34     -    -  
10. Queens Park Rang    39  10  9 20  48  86   29    2-3   -  
11. Watford*            39   8  9 22  69 115   25     -    -  
12. Brentford           40   9  7 24  56  99   25    0-2   -  
13. Portsmouth*         40   9  4 27  58 117   22     -    -  
14. Clapton Orient      40   6  7 27  49 104   19     -    -  
15. READING*             7   0  0  7   8  34   --

    * non-London teams excluded
    * Portsmouth took over Reading's fixtures
    * Reading resigned, October 1916

For the rest of the War Reading played no official fixtures, however there were numerous charity games staged at Elm Park, many involving the Canadian soldiers based locally. On one surreal occasion, the Canadians, handicapped by having one hand tied behind their back, lost 8-5 to a ladies' team, with Miss Barrell scoring a hat-trick. Reading Football Club resumed something like normal business in February 1919 with a series of friendlies, before what was to prove the final season of Southern League in its original form kicked off in August.