Tag Archives: twickenham

Harlequins: Marking the End of the O’Shea Era

We don’t often cover rugby on this site but, and it’s a big but, Harlequins are Twickenham’s top flight team and in the last few years under the direction of Conor O’Shea the club has achieved some notable success including winning their first (and only) Aviva Premiership title in 2012. Now O’Shea’s leaving the club and heading to Italy, times are changing and we felt it was worth paying tribute to the man and the success he brought to The Stoop. Occasional twickerati roving reporter and big Quins fan Bill Webb-Ellis looks back on the O’Shea era and ponders on what the future may bring…

 

With the reduced, ‘de-funned’ (for which read, de-deathed due to excessive drinking) London 7s last weekend, as well as the Aviva Premiership semi-finals taking place, the players at Harlequins were busy posting photos of themselves in Cannes on Instagram. Their coach for the past six years however may well be ruing his send off the previous Friday night in the European Challenge Cup Final.

With 80 minutes played and trailing by seven points, Quins had possession in their own half, if they could get a converted try, they could take the game to extra time. The ball came to flyhalf, Ben Botica, who inexplicably kicked it up field, giving possession to Montpellier who carried it out to win the match and the cup. Botica had already signed to play for Montpellier next season, and the conspiracy theorists had a field day. In truth, the game had been lost in the previous 80 minutes with Harlequins out-muscled by Jake White’s strong South African bolstered side, unrecognisable from the team that Harlequins put 41 points past at home in November 2015.

Conor O’Shea arrived at Quins in March 2010 among the embers from Bloodgate, and took over from caretaker coach John Kingston after Dean Richards resigned and was then banned from rugby for three years. O’Shea won 35 caps for his country as a stylish full-back and had played, captained, coached, been Director of Rugby and even Managing Director of London Irish, before working for the RFU as Director of Regional Academies and then National Director of the English Institute of Sport.

In O’Shea’s first full season, he took Harlequins to victory over Munster at Thomand Park in a Challenge Cup semi-final, becoming only the second club to beat the Irish province at home in a European Competition. In the final, Quins beat Stade Français with a last-minute try from Argentinian wing Gonzo Comacho, sent through the French side’s defence by a grubber from Danny Care; the conversion by Nick Evans gave them the cup by a point, 19–18 at the Cardiff City Stadium.

The confidence that came from the cup win after the lows and humiliation from the season before brought about a new Quins’ style. O’Shea held a summit with his four coaches as to what was needed to move on. The words and phrases that cropped up were leadership, culture, empowering players, discipline, and the response was immediate. In the 2011–12 season, Harlequins won their first 10 premiership games before losing to Saracens at Twickenham in the Big Game 4. A home playoff semi-final against Northampton Saints saw a 14-man maul go over the line for Joe Marler to score the winning try and secure a 25-23 victory.

Quins v Wasps [copyright Seconds Left Images]

Quins v Wasps  (Copyright Andrew Fosker / Seconds Left Images)

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Dr Tania Mathias: Being Twickenham’s MP One Year In

Who’d be an MP? Not us that’s for sure!  The long hours, having to deal with all those constituents, the listening to long speeches, learning how to wave order papers in the air in that special way, it’s all a bit too much. And that is why it’s a job best suited to other people.  Here in leafy Twickenham we had Vince Cable as our MP for 18 years and then, on the 7th of May last year, a day of big political upsets, Dr Tania Mathias the Conservative Party candidate, was elected as Member of Parliament for our humble ol’ town.

But what is it like being a new MP?  We’ve absolutely no idea (see above) and that is why we decided to put ten questions to Dr Mathias about her first year in the job. And can you guess what happened next? That’s right, she agreed to answer them.

 

Tania Mathias

Dr Tania Mathias MP

Here’s what we asked, and, more importantly, here’s what she had to say…

1. What was going through your mind in the early hours of the 8th May 2015 as you were declared Twickenham’s MP? And did Vince Cable give you any words of advice?

TM: At 4am on 8th May I was taken by surprise and I didn’t have a speech prepared. I found myself thinking of the young schoolboy Daniel who had told me on election day morning that he was going to stay up to hear the result. Mostly I was glad that all the supporters in the room and watching the results at home knew their efforts had brought success.

There wasn’t any time for a handover that morning and my duties started the following Monday so I didn’t manage to get any tips or advice from Dr Cable until later in the year.

2. How easy (or tough) has it been adapting to life as a new MP?

It’s been relatively easy because I’ve always had jobs that are all-consuming. There’s also a lot of support from colleagues from both sides of the House especially from those who entered Parliament at the same time.

3. What has surprised you most about Westminster life?

The biggest surprise is that the House of Commons as a workplace – from the doorkeepers to librarians – is one of the friendliest and most helpful I have worked in.

4. How well do you think you have represented your Twickenham constituents in your first year?

I’d like to think I have represented Twickenham constituents well. Whilst I’ve supported the delivery of the manifesto on which I stood, I have not been shy to challenge the government when it has been wrong. I have replied to over 10,000 emails from constituents, handled over a thousand individual cases, and held weekly surgeries throughout the year.

5. What are you most proud of from your time in Parliament so far?

I’m proud of already being known for standing up for local concerns – opposing Heathrow expansion, fighting for Kneller Hall – and for standing up for those who need help such as single parents on tax credits and unaccompanied refugee children.

6. You’ve said you are in the ‘remain’ camp for the forthcoming EU Referendum. What is that decision based on and do you think it reflects the views of your constituents?

I have based my decision on our economic needs for small businesses and on security. While I describe myself as ‘Euro cautious’ I believe we can be strongest in a reformed EU.

7. You’ve come in for criticism, especially on social media, after voting for cuts to ESA disability payments. Planned changes to junior doctors’ contracts are also proving controversial. As a doctor yourself, do you stand by these policies?

ESA will be fully protected for those who are not able to work, but I did support changes for those who can do some work – existing policies to support people with disabilities to find work have not been as effective as they should have been. I have met with disability groups and individuals with disabilities in Twickenham about the 2017 changes for new claimants and I share their concerns that current work programmes are not helping enough people. The changes to ESA need to go hand-in-hand with better, more individual support for claimants to find work.

On the junior doctor contract, I have met with the junior doctors and with Jeremy Hunt and have urged both to negotiate without pre-conditions. I do not agree with the Government’s move to impose the contract, but nor do I support the strike action. It is only through negotiation and compromise that a reasonable solution will be reached.

8. Heathrow expansion. You’re opposed to it but isn’t it just a matter of time before it happens anyway?

Whatever the Government decides, I will continue to fight for a ‘better not bigger’ Heathrow, and I will do all I can to oppose a third runway. I believe that pollution concerns will ultimately stop expansion anyway – noise and air quality are already unacceptably poor for too many people in Twickenham and beyond.

9. Now you’re an MP rather than ‘just’ a local councillor, how do you view your role in terms of getting involved in local issues? Could you ever see yourself disagreeing with LBRuT?

My job is to speak up for my constituents and this will mean disagreeing with my own party either in government or in the council – and that has already happened on some issues. I am, however, able to discuss my concerns with local government colleagues.

10. And finally, what are your priorities for the year ahead?

Nationally, I will continue to push for the issues I stood on at the election : a strong economic policy to maintain lower personal taxation, and low corporation taxes and investment allowances support local small businesses. I will continue to promote engineering and science in our schools. I will also continue to support human rights both in the UK and abroad.

Locally, I will continue to oppose Heathrow expansion and push for the airport to do more to tackle current levels of noise and air pollution. I will fight for better rail services and CrossRail 2 for our constituency; I will fight to keep a military presence at Kneller Hall; and I will fight for better flood defences.

 

You’ll probably be pleased with some of what you just read. You’ll probably be displeased with some of what you just read. Please feel free to delete as applicable. Well, actually you can’t delete it but you could always add a comment below.

 

Spring sprung?

Twickenham from Eel Pie Island bridge

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Residents’ Riverside Draft Revealed

The 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death seems like an apposite time for an update on the Twickenham Riverside development. Why? Well, we’ve got comedy, tragedy, a cast of memorable characters, history repeating itself and bitter power struggles. Add to that the option for referencing this saga to the titles of Shakespeare’s plays (e.g. The Comedy of Errors or As True Likes It,  etc, etc, add your own versions at the end) and then top it off with the possibility that we might get an amphitheatre on which we’ll be able to see it all acted out one day. Bostin’ as they say in the Midlands although whether they say it as far south as Stratford-upon-Avon is a mystery (to us).

You’ll recall that after having listened to local residents across several consultations over several years, the Council went away, did some mulling and cogitating, worked with big name architects Q&F Terry and then unveiled designs for the riverside which nobody particularly seemed to like. Oh dear. LBRuT (pron: El Brute) then announced that it would work on revisions which would take account of residents’ feedback and, possibly, just possibly, make the scheme do the things that it was originally supposed to do, namely create a useful town square and open up central Twickenham to the river.

Twickenham riverside site from Embankment

Twickenham riverside site from Embankment

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A Twickenham Cultural Hub. Well, Will It Be?

You’ve probably seen this building loads of times. Perhaps you walk past it every day on your way to the station. Maybe you’ve even pondered on how it’s possible to put so much scaffolding against one single structure? But what exactly is it?

Brewery Wharf, Twickenham

Brewery Wharf, Twickenham

Why, it’s the new ‘community and cultural building’ for Twickenham of course! It’s part of the large Brewery Wharf development that’s going up on the old Royal Mail sorting office site. It’s a big site and will include over one hundred new flats and houses with a very light sprinkling of shared ownership homes too. Part of the deal for the development was for some kind of community building that would benefit the town. It’s not a bad idea even if, according to us here at twickerati HQ, it’s in the wrong place. Wouldn’t it be better located right, slap bang in the town centre, possibly even as part of the Twickenham riverside development? We think so, but what do we know.  Anywayyyyy…

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Please Sponsor Me In The Brighton Marathon

Spear LondonHello Twickenham. Here’s a request that’s a bit different from the usual twickerati nonsense. I’m after your money. Not for me you understand but for SPEAR, the Twickenham based charity helping homeless people in the area. I’m running in the Brighton Marathon on Sunday 17th April and any donation you can make to SPEAR will be very much appreciated. With less than a week to go there’s no time like the present to act so why not read on then immediately click on the link to donate via the twickerati JustGiving page. Yes, do it right now please.

What & why?
Apart from doing things like having a day job and updating twickerati with Twickenham related stuff, I also do a bit of running from time to time. 5k, 10k, 10 miles and more, but one thing has been missing – a full marathon. And that’s why I’m running Brighton. 26.2 miles is a long way. A bloody long way. Apparently, it’s twice the distance of a half marathon! It’s going to be hard, it could take a while, my knees and ankles are going to hate me more than they do already, but it will be worth it if I can raise money for an excellent local cause too.

Who?
I am raising funds for SPEAR, a charity based in central Twickenham. If you live locally you’ve probably heard of it. Its mission is to enable homeless people in South and West London to find secure accommodation and work towards a positive future.

If you enjoy reading twickerati whether on the blog, Twitter or Facebook then I’d be hugely grateful if you could make a donation to SPEAR to help it with its important work with vulnerable people. Any donation, however large or small, would mean a lot to me but it will mean much more to them. Thank you very much. Russell

 

UPDATE 18 APRIL 2016:

Thanks so much for all your donations, you have helped raise over £1,000 for Spear. Both Spear and I really appreciate it. The money will be put to good use tackling homelessness in our part of London. As for the run, I reached my ‘best case’ target time of 3h 45m thanks to a bit of preparation, fantastic support along the route and the knowledge that I was running for a good cause. Thank you all again. Russell

Sorry about the photo, the staff photographer was having an off day but you get the idea.

 

Did it!

Did it!

 

LINK:
* DONATE: twickerati JustGiving page for SPEAR
* More about SPEAR

ice-cream-van-twickenham-twickerati

P.S. If you are an actual friend of mine (and for the avoidance of doubt I like to think I have at least three, maybe four at a push) I also have a personal JustGiving page for exactly the same thing in case you’d prefer to sponsor me there.
P.P.S. And if you’re wondering why I have not asked for sponsorship earlier, my propensity to accrue minor sporting injuries has put me off doing that until now.

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Pic of the Week: Room with a View

New flats going up on Heath Road offer the prospect of stunning views. The building, Twickenham House, has images on the hoardings showing the type of accommodation you can expect and we have to say that having a view across Mediterranean rooftops as opposed to the Tesco Express and the railway line will be a very attractive proposition for some.

Views across Tesco and the railway

Views across Tesco and the railway

Views across the Med

Views across the Med

Twickenham House on Heath Road

Twickenham House on Heath Road

It’s amazing what they can do these days, isn’t it?

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Twickenham High Street Update – Spring 2016

In January we did something of a bumper High Street Update as it had been many months since our last shops-related confession. But that was January and this is now and there’s more to tell. Things have happened. In telling you this tale we’re going to go with the theme of brevity and we hope you’re going to buy into it because we really need you with us on this journey. Let us begin…

Food Sanctuary, York Street

Food Sanctuary, new on York Street

Marc Jason’s Shoeworld, purveyors of cheap footwear to the TWs is closing down. To be fair, with its endless sales and discount banners it has always looked as if it’s been on the brink of closing but the words ‘closing down’ in the window do seem to be a big, big clue as to its current state.  We don’t know if Marc Jason has other ‘worlds’ beyond Shoeworld but it does seem to be the end of the line for this particular Heath Road outlet. The shop has lasted longer than you might think although we do say this without any insights as to how your brain actually works. So, how long do you think it’s been open? Two years? Three? And the answer is….  almost four and a half years. Plenty of other places have come and gone in that time. Continue reading

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RideLondon for SPEAR

Many of you will have had that familiar feeling when the mail comes through the letterbox and you just know it’s not going to be you — again. Another opportunity missed. Another chance to prove yourself among peers gone. Maybe next year. Maybe.

Or maybe this year. For those who like me, were rejected again by RideLondon (WHY ME?!?), there is still hope, and not only hope but the promise of helping others as well as testing yourself against the fastest.

It's a 'no'. But it doesn't have to be

It’s a ‘no’. But it doesn’t have to be

Local homelessness charity SPEAR have RideLondon places for cyclists willing to raise sponsorship for them. For an initial registration fee of just £30, you can secure a place to ride the 100 miles from the Olympic Park to the Surrey Hills before heading back to a spectacular finish on The Mall.

If you’re not aware of what SPEAR does, it’s been going for almost 30 years. Set up by local resident Penny Wade after two homeless people died in 1986 when sleeping rough in Richmond, SPEAR helps people from homelessness to independence. Initially a night shelter was started, but this became permanent accommodation on Kew Road in Richmond, now known as Penny Wade House, able to provide 14 people at a time with the chance to make a fresh start away from the streets.  SPEAR now operates across south and west London. Its head office is on Heath Road, Twickenham. Continue reading

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Twickenham Riverside Is Revolting (Again)

Just over a month ago LBRuT published the results of its consultation on the design plans for Twickenham riverside and the elusive town square. Despite the positive spin put on the report it was clear that feedback on the concept was – and how shall we put this delicately – strongly negative. Actually that’s not fair. If you discard the absence of any real ‘town square’, a dislike of the regency styling which has little in common with its immediate surroundings, the failure to open up the town to the river via Water Lane, the scale of the development and the inclusion of up to 40 flats, the plan went down pretty well.  Some aspects did receive a positive response, especially the parts focused on developing public gardens next to the river and reducing the dominance of cars and car parking on that part of the site.  For others, the fact that it was not a plan for a new lido was also a major disappointment. Jump back to the present and we now have a new action group, a public meeting and the appearance of TWIKKID, Twickenham’s very own online satirical cartoonist.

Twickenham riverside site from Embankment

Twickenham riverside site from Embankment

As we pointed out, of the 754 responses received just 93 comments said the plans met the needs of the local community. That’s a meagre 12%. Sure, it’s important to bear in mind that it’s easier and more natural to oppose development than to support it but that’s still a very low figure given that almost all of Twickenham is in favour of developing the site in some way. Continue reading

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