Amongst passion down on the pitch during the pitch invasion at the Select Car Leasing Stadium during the game against Port Vale, there was a moment of compassion as Nelson Abbey ensured that a young ball boy was kept safe.
Tom Newbury, aged 13, has spoken about how the Royals defender came over when the protest started and helped him get to the tunnel.
He said: “When the fans ran onto the pitch, we were advised to just go down the tunnel as quickly as we could. However, everyone was trying to get into the tunnel at the same time so it was very busy, and Nelson Abbey helped and almost guarded me so that I could get in safely.”
“I was obviously quite scared because nothing like this had every happened before and there were lots of people, but Nelson’s actions just reassured me, knowing that I could get down and into some safety.”
When told about the act of kindness, Reading manager Ruben Selles told ReadingToday of his pride in his squad and that he wasn’t surprised to see Abbey acting in this way.
He said: “I have told you before that I think I have an unbelievable dressing room because they take care of each other, but they also take care of the club and the community.”
“I know Nelson and I know the ball boys, but I hadn’t heard about this story, however I am not surprised because all the players are such good people. This shows in the way that they conduct themselves and especially with the current situation, this story proves that fact even more. I will thank Nelson for his kind actions.”
Tom Newbury, who is a student at The Emmbrook School, is one of many ball boys who attends matches each weekend at the Select Car Leasing Stadium, getting the chance to be involved with his local team and interact with his football role models.
Craig Johnson, Assistant Headteacher at The Emmbrook School, has told us of his pride in both Tom and the Reading squad for the way they conducted themselves during the protest.
He said: “As a school we were delighted to see that the Reading players, Nelson Abbey especially, are embodying our school’s FAIR values (Family, Ambition, Integrity, and Respect). The way that they acted to help the ball boys, including one our students Tom, shows just how much they care about our local community.”
“We are very proud of Tom for all the work and effort he puts into every aspect of our community. He is a model student, and we are very proud to call him a member of our school family. This story not only reflects on the Reading players and their compassion, but it also shows how determined our Emmbrook students are to get involved in the local area.”
The Emmbrook School is a secondary school in Wokingham.
The protest, which involved a pitch invasion in the 16th minute of the club’s game against Port Vale, led to the game being abandoned and has now left Reading waiting to hear from the EFL as to what the consequences of this action will be.
Reading’s Director of Football, Mark Bowen, has shared his concern over the punishments that the club may be faced with following these protests, however he did understand the fans frustrations.
He said: “We all can agree that the fans are frustrated and that they’ve got every right to protest. It’s just that when it is going on, I worry about the consequences of such actions. We just don’t want to hurt the club even more.”
Ruben Selles’ team will continue their survival fight in their next game as they face Wigan Athletic at the DW Stadium this afternoon.