What a year? Especially when you can add a statistical element to the emotional rollercoaster we've all experienced - on our latest trip around the sun.

Clearly, most of our readers ARE Barnsley fanatics. However, we don't always read the stories and background noise that happens in the football world that concerns us. For this reason, I simply love sharing my homework with you all.

So, let's absorb ourselves with our beloved Barnsley FC, at this time last year, courtesy of the analysis done by the professors at Experimental 3-6-1. We can all remember that we were tied to a division where anyone could beat anyone. The evidence was there for all to see.

As quoted on the site, "Every team in this graphic has been beaten by the one immediately clockwise of it during the 2015/16 season. For example, starting in the top left, Bradford lost 2-0 to Peterborough who lost 3-2 to Wigan who lost 1-0 to Burton and so on".

As any December graphic would definitely have suggested, the Reds were not the kingpins of the division. We were not an unbeaten side, capable of breaking the mathematical formula. Instead we were the experts in breaking hearts, away at Altrincham. It all seems a very long time ago now.

Jump ahead a few months. The form table at the closing stages of the season also suggests that we had no right to expect our automatic elevation from the so called 'pub league' either. We may have felt that we finished with a flourish, especially in the euphoria of our final day win (away) at Wigan. We were the stuff that dreams were made of, but other teams had held their own too.

In the play offs, the Reds were sublime. Making the best Walsall side for a generation look very ordinary. However, the barmy fans from South Bermondsey, London, would have expected more from their side at Wembley - in the showcase League One final, on Sunday, 14 May 2016.

What are your best memories following the Reds this season? Are you optimistic about Barnsley's chances in the Championship during 2017? Can we climb into the top six once again? Comment below and join the Super Reds Debate!
The Reds' skipper has been in cracking form this season and is certainly one of the major catalysts in helping Barnsley achieve a healthy league position on their return to the Championship. His performances have earned him rave reviews and plaudits from way beyond Oakwell.  Conor Hourihane has already collected the SkyBet Player of the Month award for August 2016 and it would take a better Irish bookie than many to doubt that further recognition and awards will follow.

Twice this season the 25-year-old has been on the cusp of making his international debut having been called up to the provisional Republic of Ireland squad. At the time of writing this post, WhoScored.com have him as the top rated player in the Championship (7.87). His stock is certainly on the rise. But perhaps, here are five things you didn't know about 'Captain Conor'.

  1. On the day Conor Hourihane was born, 2 February 1991, The KLF ft. The Children of The Revolution topped the UK charts with '3 a.m. Eternal'.

  2. Under Peter Reid, Connor Hourihane made his professional debut on 6 August 2011 for Plymouth Argyle, in their opening day draw with Shrewsbury Town at the New Meadow. He was amongst a total of ten debutants on that day.
  3. Born in Bandon, a town in County Cork, Ireland, Conor shares his hometown with Graham Norton, the BBC One chat show host and commentator of the Eurovision Song Contest.
  4. Having won a Cork Person of the Month award in July 2016, Hourihane is up for the Cork Person of the Year gong, to take place in January 2017. Watch this space.
  5. Since taking over as Barnsley captain in December 2015, the club rose from the relegation zone to playoff winners in just five months. Now occupying a comfortable league position in the Championship, life is never dull at Oakwell. But if it ever was, Captain Conor can take comfort from the fact his long term partner, the former Miss Great Britain, Shelby Tribble is there for support. Lucky man. As if being the captain of Barnsley FC wasn't enough?

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As we arrive at the international break, it's hard to believe that we're nearly a quarter of a way in to the 2016/17 season already. Barnsley sit in tenth spot, having accrued an impressive 16 points from their first eleven games back in the EFL Championship.

There's still a long way to go for Hecky's boys. The travelling faithful will be jamming in to football hotels up and down the country, on the way to completing well over 5,000 miles on the road following the Reds, before this season's full journey comes to a close.

By the time the international break returns, our next block of fixtures will have featured Barnsley at home over four of those games, with the only exceptions being Brentford and Buton away on Saturday, 22 October and Saturday, 5 November respectively. Perhaps therefore, it's our home form that will count most as we play host to Fulham, Newcastle, Bristol City and Wigan over this influential series of matches.

If 'Fortress Oakwell' is to retain it's reputation, fans need to be mindful that we are currently averaging a healthy two points per game on home soil. A couple of wins and at least a couple of draws are needed to maintain this return. The question is, can we improve on our average of just one point per game away from home? Barnsley head coach Paul Heckingbottom certainly feels the Reds are adequately equipped for this division.

“We’re playing against some really good quality at the minute and we’re holding our own.” ~ Paul Heckingbottom, 27, September 2016

With just one point gained from our last three outings, the doomsayers (often situated on the M1 slightly north and south of Barnsley) would have you believe our promising start was simply a fluke, our bubble has burst and the Championship has now 'found us out'. Don't believe them!

If this is where we are today, with a team that is just beginning to taste football at this level, just think of where we can be with more game time under our belts.

And as Camille Yarbrough (featured later by Fatboy Slim) famously sang, “We've come a long long way together, Through the hard times and the good, I have to celebrate you baby, I have to praise you like I should.”

What's your take on the season so far? We would love to gain your thoughts and opinions in the comments below. Please share this post far and wide, and thanks for reading.

Sour grapes? Maybe .. it's been a frustrating afternoon for this particular Red.

There may have been a few individual performances that had dipped below the recent standards they have set themselves. That happens sometimes. You would have to admit that Reading took their chances better than we did. And whilst statistics might suggest that Barnsley were the superior team versus today's visitors, it's goals that win games.

What galls me most is the negative way that Reading, but more especially Ali Al-Habsi, provided a masterclass in wasting time at every opportunity.

I simply wouldn't be doing my duty as a football fan and a defender of fair play, if I didn't use my vexation in a more positive way. So here goes. If any of his camel training mates are reading this, maybe you can share this post with him. And maybe next time he wants to waste a full hour and a half, please ask him to do it in his own time.

Out of generosity, here are 5 suggestions for Ali Al-Habsi and other would-be time smugglers:

1. Be King of France (nearly 5 times over)

Following his father, Charles X's, abdication on the eve of the 1830 French Revolution, Louis-Antoine d'Artois was technically king for a period of approximately twenty minutes on August 2nd, 1830. Louis-Antoine's only official act as king was to abdicate the throne to his nephew, the Henri, the Duke of Bordeaux.

2. Complete a full lap of the Earth during a space walk

According to Michael J. Massimino, an American engineer and former NASA astronaut, "Being outside during the space walk, the view of the Earth is just spectacular, and getting a chance to do that is just unbelievable, everything about it. You are going around the Earth at 17,500 miles an hour, so you have 45 minutes of sunlight followed by 45 minutes of darkness. You do a lap every 90 minutes."

3. Watch The Perfect Movie

There's a school of thought that says 90 minutes is the perfect length for a movie - the length of 3 TV episodes, just enough time to get in, tell your story, and get out without wasting any more of the audience's time. There are countless examples that prove the rule, economically told stories that feel perfect and tight without a second wasted. So crank up the 'Netflix' and be entertained by some of these examples: Airplane (88 minutes), Godzilla vs Megalon (78 minutes) or even Zoolander (89 minutes). You might even find a minute or two spare to enjoy a cuppa and a snack break too.

4. Stop smoking

Whether you are a light or heavy smoker, a casual or long-term smoker, smoke ‘regular’ or use ‘electronic’ cigarettes, Geoff Anthony reckons that he has a proven programme to make you a confident and happy non-smoker in just 90 minutes. So what's the catch? Unfortunately these specialist clinics only operate in the Republic of Ireland.

5. Take a day trip to Australia

Okay, we're maybe grasping at straws a little here. With current technology, the shortest journey from Europe to Sydney is around 30 hours. That's more than an entire day devoted to traveling. However, German space agency DLR has added their own solution to our slow travel problem: the SpaceLiner. This yet-to-be-developed vehicle would zip over the globe faster than the speed of sound, achieving this feat by flying higher than the stratosphere. Packed with rocket engine technology, the SpaceLiner would travel from Europe to Australia in just 90 minutes. You could realistically pop over to Grandma's for lunch and be back home for dinner.
Next up, Reading FC head up the M1 to Oakwell, unbeaten in four matches after a hard-fought goalless draw with Birmingham in midweek.

Ahead of Saturday's match, we caught up with Dan from the excellent Royals blog, The Tilehurst End, to find out what we can expect from our opponents.

How would you sum up Reading's season so far?

Pretty decent, without really venturing into the spectacular. Jaap Stam's arrival has seen a totally new style put in place, as he seeks to turn us into a Dutch style outfit playing 4-3-3 with a heavy emphasis on possession. The possession point hasn't been an issue as we lead the Championship in that category but sadly it's not translated to many goals, with the club averaging the fourth lowest shots on target rate in the league. Sometimes it's frustrating watching countless passes around the back, but Rome wasn't built in a day and unlike Brendan Rodgers, who tried similar with us seven years ago, Stam has been picking up regular points. The jury is still out, but so far, so good.

So where do you think you'll end up?

A solid midtable finish is on the cards unless we make some big signings in January. I think we'll flirt with play-off contention but I could equally see us going on a bit of a slump. I'll say a 10th placed finish right now.

Who should we be wary of on Saturday?

Winger Garath McCleary seems to have rediscovered the mojo that saw him linked with a host of Premier League clubs a few years ago, while Roy Beerens has shown glimpses of why he was so highly thought of coming up in Holland. John Swift has been excellent since arriving from Chelsea but injury has slowed him down in recent weeks.

Any Barnsley player that's caught your eye?

We were heavily linked with Tom Bradshaw last season so it was disappointing to see him head to another Championship club, and he now seems to be hitting into form. Likewise, Adam Armstrong has the potential to be a cracking player and I'm slightly surprised that Newcastle let him go again.

Any fond memories of games between the two sides?

We've had some fun days out at Oakwell over the years, with a 4-0 win in 2012 being one of the best. Personally I enjoyed watching us earn our first win over Brendan Rodgers with a 3-1 win in 2009, that led to protests against the manager from unhappy Tykes fans!

Any not so fond ones?

My first season watching the club was the 94/95 season when our two clubs were locked in a battle for the final play-off spot. I remember you came to Elm Park in the March and absolutely drubbed us 3-0 and it was the first time my young self had ever seen us humped so heavily (sadly not the last!).

Finally, give us a score prediction?

I'll say 1-1.