I could never be a journalist because I don’t possess the dispassionate impartiality required and, of course – for me, as a fan – life is about feelings, not objectivity.
Yesterday Harlequins duly succumbed to Saracens 31-17 at Allianz Park, a points margin that I’d have accepted if you’d offered it me beforehand.
Saracens have been far and away the best team in England this season, no question, and they now stand on the verge of a history-making Aviva Premiership and Heineken Cup double.
Good luck to them in their quest, but I hope you’ll pardon me for rooting for Northampton Saints in the Premiership final, if only because Saracens’ latest (2012/2013) reported annual loss was as high as £5.9 million – making their total losses £32.7 million in the last seven completed seasons – whereas Saints have turned a profit in every one of the last thirteen.
Soccer has its financial sustainability issues and so does rugby union.
Yesterday, as expected, Quins came out of the blocks all guns blazing. Against a side with the playing strength and firepower of Saracens, they had no other option. Both sides’ kickers had average days at the tee but, by keeping things moving and taking their rare opportunities when they arose, Quins somehow scored two tries in the first half and led 17-11 at the break.
As a television viewer sitting at home, I was on edge with excitement – could Quins somehow keep their momentum going and sneak an underdog’s victory?
Sadly, the home side soon answered that one by knocking up 20 unchallenged points in the second stanza. It soon became apparent that Harlequins had given their all in its predecessor and now the wheels were coming off. They began to run out of puff and then suffered an unlucky (fatigue-related?) series of injuries to key players that left, inter alia, Mike Brown hobbling (now a doubt for England’s tour of New Zealand) and – through lack of alternative substitutes – Danny Care having to move from scrum half to play on the wing.
Meanwhile – as Quins faded – Saracens, maintaining their energy and intensity levels, won at a canter.
Your reporter was reducing to fuming at Quins’ failure to carry on where they left off; at Saracens’ ‘dodgy’ tactics – at one stage they had two players simultaneously in the sin bin; and at the sudden proclivity of referee Wayne Barnes to favour the home side in all 50:50 situations … all three complaints, as any sports fan will recognise, classic last refuges of the fan whose team is gradually going under.
To round off a depressing afternoon, an hour later I switched my television back on to join ITV’s coverage of the FA Cup Final and – seeing Hull at that stage, against the odds, 2-0 to the good – duly applied the kiss of death to their chances by adopting them as my team for the duration. Arsenal came back to win 3-2 in extra time, courtesy of a cracking Aaron Ramsey goal.
That’s life for you.