Aviva Premiership Round 18: Franklins Gardens 27th March 2016; Northampton Saints 29 Harlequins 23.
It was my lot – and pleasure – yesterday to drive in decidedly changeable weather (and wind) up to my former sister-in-law’s farm near Northampton for a quick ‘round the kitchen table’ lunch prior to attending this game, which to all intents and purposes has lifted all the pressure and stress from this season’s end of term sufferings for Quins supporters as we engage in our traditional struggle to take the last place in the Premiership play-offs.
We now aren’t going to make the ‘top four’, that’s why. The best we can now hope for is a ‘top six’ spot and qualification for the senior European Cup competition.
All four relations present seemed on good form – my hostess has just had an operation to deal with what is called a Morton’s Neuroma in her left foot, which gave me the chance to gain not a few laughs with a ten-minute monologue on the state of my haemorrhoids almost as soon as I had arrived. My sisters-in-law then teased me by anticipating my habitual attempt to ingratiate myself with the lady of the establishment upon such occasions – viz. announcing “This is the finest [whatever the main dish is] I have ever tasted in my life!” – as soon as I have had my first taste of what has been placed upon my plate.
Both dogs were also apparently in rude health, although the German shepherd still has a fixation about flies and continually jumps up in order to try and bite or eat them every time she sees one in flight.
A feature of these irregular gatherings on the way to Franklins Gardens from the farm is that we always share our respective ‘doom and gloom’ accounts of our clubs’ fortunes this season. Both my companions were convinced the home team would come second, whilst I was quick to assure them with some confidence that – on the contrary – Quins were surely bound to snatch defeat from any jaws of victory that presented themselves.
I took neither pride nor pleasure in having being proved right as I began my return journey down the M1 at about 6.00pm last night.
It was case of proceeding at about an average 60mph all the way, thanks to the weight of traffic [my ‘take’ on it was that the bulk of my fellow motorists must be driving home after having spent the first part of the Easter weekend visiting relatives of one sort or another] and indeed the strong winds and squalls that seemed to have descending upon the entire country. Whilst I did so, I tuned in to Radio 5 Live and listened to a phone-in programme which I believed was called Call Wrighty that was hosted by a female soccer presenter named Kelly.
The ‘Wrighty’ in question was former Arsenal and England striker Ian Wright and I was pleasantly surprised by his articulate and perceptive comments made in responding to points made by those who called in to give their opinions on the unexpected 3-2 victory of the new-look Roy Hodgson England team over Germany in Berlin the previous evening.
For what it’s worth, even though I could never describe myself as a football fan, in order not to be left out of bar-room banter with my male pals, ever since they did the Double in 1961 I have been a notional supporter of Spurs. With Harry Kane having opened England’s scoring last night – and three of his club team mates also in the match day squad – I am now seriously contemplating switching my allegiance from the Stoop to north London (and the round ball game) next season …