I am taking part in this year's Blogging from A to Z Challenge. This is my submission for Q ...
Or Harlequins Rugby Football Club to give them their full title. I went to my first Quins game with my ex. I was surprised to find it all a bit passion-less, although maybe the fact that my ex wore a club tie to every game should have been a clue. There was no shouting, the applause was polite and the supporters - well, they didn't do much that struck me as supportive. I found it all rather lacking frankly.
I genuinely like rugby and enjoy live events, so we continued to go to the odd game - more to see the opposition than Quins, if I'm being honest. But things started to change. A new breed of fan was gaining in numbers. They proudly wore the shirt - in the famous club colours of magenta, french grey, chocolate brown and light blue. They were vocal in their support, they were proud of their club and its players. They were dubbed "diamond geezers" by the club's MD and started to wear diamond geezer trousers - you know, those vile chef's trousers in a multi-coloured diamond pattern - as a badge of honour; that of a true Quin.
I'd come to love Quins. I knew the players, I knew their strengths and weaknesses. We bought seasons tickets and I was enjoying the improving atmosphere, but vocal support was still only found in pockets. I'd started to use the supporters' online forum where a plot was hatched one day. Our ground was undergoing development, so the players had to walk the few hundred yards to our ground in time for kick-off. There was much talk about the selection and playing of suitable music at this point - to get the crowd and the players "up" for the important game that weekend. I commented how great it would be if the players could just hear the crowd chanting "Harlequins" over and over as they walked across. They liked the idea. It turned out that every section in the ground was represented by someone on the forum and each of us undertook to make a change that weekend. At the appointed time, I bounced out of my seat and started clapping and shouting for my team, along with the others forumites in my section. My ex looked shocked - and not a little horrified. But our quiet section - previously dubbed the library - was soon alive with sound. We lost that game and were relegated, but something had changed. The Quins supporters had found their voices ... and their soul.
Oddly, I enjoyed the next year hugely, despite relegation. Our top-name signing from New Zealand still joined us and a large group of supporters insisted on the club using the difference in cost between a top flight season ticket and a lower level season ticket in whatever way was most beneficial. Legend has it that the head coach nabbed it all and so kept the team intact. We travelled far and wide and watched rugby in some great old fashioned grounds and club houses. It was tremendous fun. Quins became a proper rugby club, no longer the fancy dans of London rugby.
The club hasn't looked back since and while we've not - yet - had the success of other top clubs, we did finally win the premiership nearly three years ago. What a day that was! The final is always played at "big" Twickenham, just across the main road from our ground. The word got out that our players always walked from our ground to the stadium. Once again, that forum got involved. On the day, supporters thronged every step of the route and cheered the team across the A316. Our opposition that day were Leicester - a hugely successful club with an exceptional pedigree. Most neutrals would assume they'd win. But their fans said later that the sight of our team walking through a solid wall of chanting, multi-coloured flag waving supporters had chilled them, as they realised what a lift it provided. As supporters, we'd like to think it did ...
That was a few years ago now and I've not been able to attend more than the odd game. But I'm reading about our signings for next year and there's a familiar flutter in my tummy. It seems I'm still a Quin.
Have you experienced a memorable day with a big crowd - did it make you feel part of something special?
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