Joseph (Joe) Reader was born in West Bromwich in 1866. A talented goalkeeper, he joined West Bromwich Albion. When England international Bob Roberts left the club in 1889 Reader replaced him as WBA's first-team goalkeeper.
Reader played in 25 games in the 1890-91 season. However, WBA finished bottom of the First Division of the Football League that year. WBA also struggled the following season. However, they did well in the FA Cup beating Old Westminsters (3-2), Blackburn Rovers (3-1), Sheffield Wednesday (2-1), Nottingham Forest (6-2) to reach the final against Aston Villa.
In his book, Association Football in Victorian England, Philip Gibbons argues that: "Villa dominated the early proceedings, with Athersmith and John Devey exerting pressure on the Albion fullbacks. However, the West Bromwich side soon responded as Billy Bassett passed to Roddy McLeod, who crossed the ball to the waiting Geddes. He shot towards the Villa goal and Warner failed to collect the ball clearly. It rolled between the Villa goalposts to secure a surprising one-goal lead for the Albion team."
Billy Bassett was also involved in WBA's second goal. He won the ball on the halfway line and after running at the Aston Villa defence he passed to Alf Geddes. His shot was saved but the goalkeeper could not hold onto the ball and Sammy Nicholls had the simple task of scoring from the rebound. Jack Reynolds scored the third with a shot from 25-yards. Reader made several excellent saves and WBA ended up 3-0 winners of the FA Cup.
On 3rd March 1894 Joe Reader won his first and only international cap for England against Ireland. The England team included Bob Holmes, John Devey, Jimmy Crabtree and Fred Spiksley. England drew the game 2-2.
Reader also represented the Football League. In his book, The Essential History of West Bromwich Albion, Gavin McOwan describes a game Reader played against the Irish League: "With Reader's defence caught out by a counter attack, he rushed 50 yards out of his goal to thwart the Irish charge. But rather than merely booting the ball away, Reader coolly controlled it, beat his man and then played the ball forward to a team-mate."
1891 Charlie Perry replaced Jem Bayliss as captain of West Bromwich Albion. In his book, The Essential History of West Bromwich Albion, Gavin McOwan argues: "Charlie Perry was the heart of the defence... He was cool under pressure and a great marshal of his troops, yet despite the physical nature of the game in this time, he was never cautioned."
Over the next few years WBA had only moderate success in the Football League: 1892-93 (8th), 1893-94 (8th) and 1894-95 (13th). After beating Small Heath (2-1), Sheffield United (2-1), Wolverhampton Wanderers (1-0) they played Sheffield Wednesday in the semi-final. WBA won 2-0 but Charlie Perry suffered a serious injury and missed the final against Aston Villa. The Villa striker, John Devey, scored the only goal of the game after 39 seconds.
After playing 315 games for WBA Reader retired in 1900.
Joe Reader died in 1954.