Yesterday I went to the Stoop to watch the Harlequins keep their quest for a Premiership top-four finish on track with a nervy 18-14 defeat of Dean Richards’ Newcastle Falcons.
To be honest, it was not a great game. I’m not suggesting Quins have lost their mojo, but they just aren’t playing like they should.
Take away the history and multi-coloured shirts, this could have been a clash between two Championship sides, or even two SSE national league 1 teams, such was its mediocrity.
Two tries and 12-6 up at half-time, one might have expected – indeed, I and those around me were expecting – a five point (one for four tries) victory. Instead, with ten minutes to no-side, the Falcons were leading 12-14 and dreaming of an away win. You could tell that because the man-mountain Deano, back at the ground where he once ruled and had his Bloodgate incident, had come down from the stand to prowl the touchline.
But enough of the game.
The blame for what happened must be laid at the door of Tom, whom I only know from rugby and pubs. We have been on several self-organised tours together supporting Quins, in England, Wales, France and Ireland, the main theme of which could be summed up by Tom’s immortal line – uttered only the second time I ever met him – in setting off across a road in central Paris towards a hole-in-the-wall cashpoint, “I’m just going to collect some beer vouchers …”
We had met in the Sussex Arms on Twickenham Green for what Tom described as a ‘livener’. Several pints of real ale later, having walked to the ground, we decided to have a top-up in the members’ bar before taking our seats.
After the match was over, we naturally had to go to the Turk’s Head in St Margaret’s for ‘one for the road’. I thought I was safe because it was 5.45pm as we arrived and I wasn’t due home for dinner until 7.00pm …
I was informed this morning by Her Indoors that she had come to collect me at 9.30pm, not long after she had been rung by Tom with the helpful news that “He’s on the Jameson’s chasers and he’ll be home by midnight …”