There are less than 48 hours to go before we take on AS Montferrand in the final of the Parker Pen Challenge Cup at the Madjeski Stadium, Reading, kick-off 12.00pm. You might expect me to say it has been a normal week; the boys have trained hard (true they have) and everything is going well (true it is), but it has been far from a normal week!
On Monday, the entire squad took advantage of an invitation from Royal Windsor Racecourse and spent the evening investing none too wisely on a few horses while relaxing and enjoying the early evening sun. There were one or two alleged 'experts' among the group, but it was not until the fifth race when a horse called Green Manalishi came in at 4/1 and got the biggest cheer of the evening from some 35 Quins players and staff who had invested in its performance!.
Yesterday, we had lunch at Canyon's restaurant in Richmond where the squad of 2001 were invited as our guests to meet the vintage of 2004, with seven of the group represented in both parties. It was a fun afternoon, catching up with 'old' friends and certainly helped us all too fully appreciate what winning a cup can mean.
We now have just one training session to go before the game on Saturday and that will take place at the Madjeski Stadium. We are aware that in recent weeks, although you could not fault the effort of the players, we have not performed to the standards we expect from ourselves. If we are to lift the trophy on Saturday at approximately 1.30pm then we will need to improve.
Montferrand are a tremendous team, with some very fine players, but we are also a very good team, and we also have some tremendous players. The coaching staff has worked very hard to seek improvement in the group year on year, and we all want that piece of silverware on Saturday.
All being well, there will be over 10,000 NEC Harlequins supporters in the Madjeski on Saturday afternoon and I am sure that every single one of you will get right behind the team from the moment they take the field, until the moment the final whistle blows and possibly beyond. And if there are 10,000 supporters in the ground getting behind the team, it seems that every single one of you has sent us a good luck message, which are now decorating the changing room walls at Aldershot. The messages are much appreciated by everyone involved with the club.
This has been a good season for Quins; we finished sixth in the Zurich Premiership table and we have reached the final of the Parker Pen Challenge Cup. That will not change whatever the result is on Saturday; never mind what our detractors may say. But it would be a tremendous for the season to finish with a win against Montferrand and a piece of silverware in the trophy cabinet; a true reward for all the players, staff and supporters of Quins.
During week commencing 22nd April Harlequins will launch an innovative, new Membership Scheme which will replace the existing Season Ticket Holder Programme. Further details of the scheme will be announced in due course.