Well alright, I understand that one or two of you may have lost faith on Saturday as we went into the last minute of the game against AS Montferrand still six points down (20-26), but anyone who has been following the team over the last few weeks must have realised that the game was not over.
It was a tremendous effort by Andre Vos and his team to take that final opportunity and with it win the Parker Pen Challenge Cup trophy in such dramatic fashion. All 22 of the players involved, as well as the ten who were not, all deserve credit for the win. The determination and 'never say die' attitude that the squad have shown all season was truly reflected in Saturday's performance against Montferrand.
In addition, credit should also go to Mark Evans and his coaching team of John Kingston and Paul Turner as well as to the fitness and medical team of Paul Pook, Dave Bell, Cameron Steele and Steph Brennan, who have all contributed hugely to the progress that we have made this year. And of course a huge thank you to all the staff at the Stoop who have worked tirelessly all season, and have had to put up with the whims and fads of the playing side.
As I said last week, this has been a good season for NEC Harlequins. Our Second XV won the inaugural Zurich A League, we finished sixth in the Zurich Premiership table (our best result for six years) and having reached the final of the Parker Pen Challenge Cup, we came away with the silverware to put the 'icing on the cake.' We can all look back on ifs, buts and maybes, but at the end of the season we have to be pleased with the overall development that we have made on the pitch at all levels of the club.
As many of you will have seen, we have announced the first four new signings, while we are still in discussions with a further three players or their representatives to bring them to the Stoop for next season. As ever, these negotiations can take time but as soon as they are completed and the contracts signed, we will make an announcement here first on the website.
Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to pay a huge thank you to everyone who was at the Madejski Stadium on Saturday and who gave the team such tremendous support before, during and after the game at the stadium and afterwards back at the Stoop, where we received a fantastic reception from over 1,000 people.
The work continues preparing for next season but before that, this evening we have our End of Season Dinner which I am sure will be a very quiet affair! To those of you going tonight, I look forward to seeing you there.
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.