My football team is West Ham. Legacy of 1966 when as a seven year old, Geoff Hurst became my hero. I’ve stuck with them through thin and thin ever since. MyDad, my son, my father-in-law, my brother-in-law, are all Arsenal. How I have suffered in comparison! We came third in the old First Division in 1986 and there is a special DVD/video about it, “The Boys of ’86”. It’s great. Frank MacAvennie, Tony Cottee, Trevor Brooking, Devo. Arsenal and Man Utd fans feel like slitting their throats if they come third.
My rugby team is Harlequins. Always quite liked their fancy-dan, underachieving image, but with some friends, got serious four years ago and now have season tickets. Love it. Brilliant running rugby and a great atmosphere, where all the fans mingle – no antagonism about the opposition. Good beer, decent burgers.
Both teams had a tough time of it recently though. The Irons got into big trouble over the Tevez/Mascherano deal (it always seemed too good to be true) and got relegated last season. Quins had the absurd “Bloodgate” crisis, which knocked them back for a season.
But now – and yes, it’s early days – it all seems to be going rather well. Penance has been delivered, redemption is on the way.
West Ham have a good squad for the Championship and Sam Allardyce looks to be a good man for the job of leading them back to the Premier League. (And I admit, it was the appointment I didn’t want to happen). Lost to Southampton last night, which is a shame, as a win would have put us top. But I’m feeling good about the prospects.
As for Quins, top of the Premiership with six wins out of six. Following the victory in the Amlin Cup (the second European tournament) over Stade Francais last May. Yes, teams like Leicester have lost more people to the World Cup, but we’ve lost a few too, to injury, if not the World Cup. We’ve benefited from having a team of really good young English players who aren’t quite ready for the England team. But they’re very close, and have been outstanding in the last few weeks. The running rugby has been exhilarating. If only England could play the same way. If there is one emerging player to look out for it is Luke Wallace. He will be one of England’s flankers within a year or so, surely. And he has the Jean-Pierre Rives haircut to go with it. (Old person’s reference to eighties French super star).
Curmudgeons (especially those from the bitter North) might say neither team deserved the second chance and probably benefited from being cool London teams, who pull the crowds in and have the bankers on their side. Yes, that is probably true. They are cool. They are good. Bankers like them. They play their respective games the right way. They will never be consistently the best, but they are both teams to be proud of. Come on you Quins/Irons!