Crawley Town v Reading FA Cup preview: Both clubs always special to Mackie

John Mackie
John Mackie

John Mackie will have a unique view of Crawley Town’s FA Cup Third Round tie against Reading as he is the only player to have captained both teams.

In fact he went almost straight from spending four seasons at Crawley, playing at both Town Mead and Broadfield Stadium to the 24,000 capacity Madejski Stadium in November 1999, writes Graham Carter.

Separated by just three months at Sutton Utd he was signed by Alan Pardew and played for Reading for four seasons and helped them to promotion to what is now the Championship.

Mackie, now 36, went on to play for Leyton Orient for another three years, dropping down to League Two level and helping achieve promotion to League One in 2006 before joining Brentford in 2007.

He revealed: “These two clubs have a special place in my heart because Crawley was my first Non-League club and Reading was my first Football League club.

“I enjoyed playing there – I played with Dave McEwen (Spurs and QPR) and Ben Abbey (Oxford Utd, Southend and Macclesfield) who both went on to play professional League football.”

Mackie is looking forward to seeing the clash between his former clubs as a guest of Crawley Town. He said: “The club has moved on a lot and is now well established. It will be interesting to see how it has changed.”

Colin Pates signed him after he had impressed in two trial matches for Crawley Town Reserves. He said: “I was earning £50 per week which I thought was alright!

“I also played for Billy Smith and Brian Sparrow and during my time we won the Sussex Senior Cup and I won the Player of the Season award.”

Mackie said: “I turned pro at 23 which is quite late but played professional for eight years and gained two promotions and was captain at Crawley, Reading and Orient.”

It was at Orient he played with current Town captain Gary Alexander and they have been friends ever since.

He added: “I had good times at both clubs which both had beautiful new stadiums when I played there. It will be strange watching the game as they have both gone up tremendously – I won’t know who to support.”

And what is his prediction for the match? “Reading haven’t done too well this season but maybe their luck has just turned, winning on Saturday.

“Although Crawley lost to Bournemouth they are doing well, so I think they will get a draw at Broadfield and will earn a return match at the Madejski.”