Distinctive in long trousers, West Bromwich born goalkeeper Josiah “Joe” Reader joined West Bromwich Albion as an amateur in January 1885 and turned professional in August of the same year. Initially understudy to Albion’s England international Bob Roberts, Reader made his Football League debut in October 1889 in a match at Aston Villa and broke into the team on a regular basis in 1890. He won an FA Cup winners medal with Albion when they beat Villa 3-0 in the 1892 FA Cup Final at The Kennington Oval. In March 1894 he won his only England cap, in a 2-2 draw with Ireland at Cliftonville Gardens, Belfast. Reader also represented the Football League three times.
From 1892-93 onwards he was a near ever present for the rest of his Albion career and he helped Albion reach the FA Cup Final once more in 1895, but this time he was on the losing side as Aston Villa won 1-0 with what was the quickest goal in an FA Cup Final for the next 114 years. Following Albion’s move to The Hawthorns in 1900, Reader became the only player to have represented the club in a competitive match at three different grounds, namely Four Acres, Stoney Lane and The Hawthorns. He was part of Albion’s April 1901 FA Cup semi final team beaten 4-0 by eventual winners Tottenham Hotspur at Villa Park before retiring at the end of the season (in which West Brom were relegated) after 358 appearances for The Baggies.
After retiring through illness, he later served Albion as a trainer and coach, and then as a Hawthorns steward until 1950, before ending a 65 year association with the club.