Earlier this week I joined an irregular session of dispirited erstwhile and current Quins fans at a local public house to discuss the state of the club.
Let nobody beat about the bush – the motives of those attending this informal little brains trust can be confidently be filed under the headings either ‘self-fulfilling prophesies’ and/or ‘reinforcing one’s ‘glass half-full’ prejudices’.
In support of that statement I need do no more than cite the evidence of one participant who began his opening remarks by reviewing just how many points we still technically need to avoid relegation, despite the fact that Quins are currently ninth in the table and the club who are in twelfth and last place in the Premiership league table (London Irish) are 21 points behind.
The effect was compounded by a colleague, reacting to said exercise, reminding the assembled company that one of the just two league matches that the newly-promoted Irish have won this season was their opener against Quins at the London Double Header last September!
However, my favourite discourse of the evening was undoubtedly that of the veteran Harry, whose diatribe – as I told him – was worthy of being developed into his own series of half-hour podcasts and/or even a YouTube channel.
He lamblasted the club’s coaching staff for trotting out every well-known cliché in both pre- and post-match interviews … imitating the ‘speak your weight’ (stock-phrase-filled) delivery spewing out sporting verbiage by the yard … and then going on to answer it rhetorically in his own voice, as follows:
“It’s all about the performance …”
(“No it isn’t, pal – it’s all about the result!”)
“I was very pleased with the way our boys stuck to their task …)
(“Well, you might have been, but I wasn’t – we lost again!”)
“We were the better team for 60 minutes …”
(“What on earth has that got to do with the price of bread? Please explain to me why in the last 20 minutes we then created a minimum three chances to score tries and butchered every one of them, plus also shipped three tries and a four-try bonus point to the opposition? …”)
As a result of the quaint rules of the competition Quins went into that match needing a single point to go through to the knockout stage and the quarter-finals.
Besides a win (4 points) doing the trick in any event, a single bonus point could also be obtained by the losing team in any match either scoring 4 tries itself and/or by finishing 7 points or less behind the winner.
As it transpired, Quins went out, played a very conservative, unadventurous, game not very well at all – and ended up losing by the margin 36-10.
Never mind [presumably] going into the game trying solely and exclusively to win the game (even if it was by a margin of merely 3-0, as seemingly they attempted to do) … why hadn’t the coaching staff fired them up in the changing room just before they ran out of to the pitch as follows …?
“Right you horrible lot, for the moment just clear your minds completely of all the set-plays etc. we’ve been rehearsing all week and listen to me!
If we don’t pull our fingers out for this game we’re going to be going out of the competition, meekly and unacceptably, with a whimper. A whimper. Is that what you want? Is that the Quins way?
No it isn’t!
Get this into your thick heads. We need just one competition point to go through to the knockout stage. One single bloody point!
If you score four tries in the first half – that’s only an average of one every ten minutes – then as far as I am concerned you can switch off at half-time.
Because, if you score 4 tries, that’s all it takes for you to get the bonus point needed to qualify you for the quarter-finals!
To repeat: you score me 4 tries in this game … and I won’t mind in the slightest if you end up losing by a margin of 20, 30 or even 50 points.
Because you’ll have qualified for one of the few trophies we might have a chance of winning this season, that’s why!!
Now get out there a jolly well GO FOR IT!”
I could see where he was coming from.
The club is at a low ebb at the moment and seemingly has lost all sense of direction. And nobody is apparently doing anything about it. Especially out on the pitch where it matters most.
It could all go downhill from here if somebody doesn’t get a grip soon …