Fourth time lucky? The Hellenic League boss yet to complete a full season

Reading City manager Simon Johnson. Photo: Neil Graham.
Reading City manager Simon Johnson. Photo: Neil Graham.

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Three years in charge, 72 games, 54 in the Uhlsport Hellenic League Premier Division, three in the FA Cup and four in the FA Vase, but remarkably Reading City manager Simon Johnson is yet to complete a full season.

The nature of the Coronavirus pandemic plus a mid-season appointment means the Cityzens manager is still waiting on completing a season as a manager despite leading his side from second bottom of the division to third at the point the 2020/21 campaign was curtailed.

Speaking to Football in Berkshire, Johnson – who is taking on a gruelling charity run in March – joked: “Someone must be trying to tell me something! There must be a few people out there in the same situation, I know Craig Martin at Longlevens is!”

Johnson took over in December 2018 following the departures of Andy Finlay and Rob Creach from The Rivermoor dugout and had to build a new side almost from scratch.

A view across The Rivermoor from the new outdoor bar.

That first season – 2018/19 – was all about keeping Reading City in the Premier Division after a turbulent few months, something Johnson achieved thanks to a 2-1 win at home to Martin’s Longlevens.

Naturally, it’s a frustrating time for managers and players up and down the country, something Johnson echoed with particular reference to the improvements at The Rivermoor ground.

He said: “It’s definitely frustrating, as a club we’ve come so far on and off the pitch, but there’s nothing official to show it. I think this season we were playing well and grinding out results, so it was very disappointing to find out we won’t know where that start could have taken us.

“Hopefully it’ll be fourth time lucky for me! I’m hoping we’ve all learnt something from this and we won’t go back until we’re in a better place. Nobody enjoys all the stop-start, null and void nonsense. So let’s just wait until it’s safe to come back, clubhouses can be in full use and no limits on fans!”

As well as Johnson, there are clubs that are yet to complete a full season since formation, none seemingly as unfortunate as Jersey Bulls in the Combined Counties League.

The club, based in the Channel Islands, formed in the summer of 2019, has twice now competed in incomplete Cherry Red Records Combined Counties League Division One campaigns and are yet to be beaten.

The Bulls have won 36 of 36 competitive games since formation but, after two curtailed seasons remain a Division One side.

Speaking to BBC Sport, director Ian Horswell said: “We’re taking it really well.

“We actually agree with the decision this year.”

The club though has only played four games this season due to travel restrictions to and from the island that came in at the end of September.

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