Saturday 26th May 2012. Remember the date. It might just become one of the most significant in the history of Harlequins. On that day the mighty Quins take on Leicester Tigers at Twickenham Stadium in a bid to lift the Aviva Premiership trophy for the first time. Victory over the Tigers will be a well deserved end to a season in which they topped the table since September. Put simply, it’s a massive game. In this guest item, Twickenham resident and longstanding Quins fan David gives his take on what it means to support Twickenham’s top flight rugby club.
ASPIRE IN THE CATHEDRAL
“I often wonder what the difference is between hope and aspiration. When a child, my parents would drive me to Twickenham from my home in Wimbledon to visit my now dearly departed grandparents. One of my lasting memories was staring in wonderment as 707s, VC10s and Tridents roared inexplicably slowly over their garden. Moments later, I thought, they would be over the cathedral of Rugby, Twickenham stadium. I aspired and failed to be a pilot but hoped that one day, I would have my prayers answered at the Home of Rugby. I also aspired, one day, to make Twickenham my home. This I achieved in 2000.
It’s only reasonable then, that my allegiance to TW1 should be matched with an allegiance with the team just a few hundred metres from home and across the road from its grandparent. The mighty Quins.
The beauty of this match is that as a Quins fan, the beginning of each season is filled with hope, but the reality of the affiliation is actually just aspiration. Quins never really win anything. Quins also never really lose anything. They are consistently and frustratingly above average. I frequently berate my children when their reports come home with the same comment. Above average is lost. It’s not good and it’s not bad; it’s not even average. It’s aspiring to be good, but failing.
Sitting in my seat next to Peter at the Stoop this Christmas, I had to pinch myself. The mighty Quins are seated at the pinnacle of the Premiership looking down on all the others, and a long way down on mightily successful teams like the Leicester Tigers. 10 games, 10 victories. Mighty good.
But success brings a new emotion. Fear. As Peter and I have a beer and a burger in the Turks Head or the Royal Oak, we call it PMT. Pre-match tension. You don’t get this if you are above average. In that state, you are just content. Happy to be out at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon, wandering quite aimlessly through the high street to the A316 and the familiarity of our seats in the Etihad.
On Saturday 12th May it all came true. Around 4.00pm, Saints ran in a try in a game where Evans and Lamb had simply traded pointless penalties. 8 points down and as many minutes to go; the burger weighed heavily in the pit of my stomach.
“There’s still hope,” said Peter. But no aspiration, I thought to myself. Then miraculously, the Quins mightied up. Evans scores three. We just need to try, harder. At the death, the pack finds some dying breaths and what seems like the whole Quins team shoves the entire Saints team back 20 metres to turn hope into ecstasy.
I’ll be walking on the other side of the A316 next week. The cathedral to which I once aspired awaits. And I’ll be full of hope, full of hope that the mighty Quins can go from Stoop to conquer.
Come on you Quins!!!
* About David: “David’s a local who enjoys the life that Twickenham and the Harlequins afford him. He says that in these times of austerity and cuts however, the last thing to go will be the season ticket!”
* Harlequins take on Leicester at Twickenham Stadium on Saturday 26th May. Quins website.
* Quins photos courtesy (and copyright of) Seconds Left Images