Al Hoenig (a.k.a. Big-Al) recalls the 2001-02 season.
The 2001-2002 season opened (as quite a few seasons have) with a match against Harlequins – we came away from the Stoop with a 32-21 win – but this was not to be our only visit to the Stoop this season, but more of that later. Let’s quickly go through the rest of the season:
It was not a bad season in the league, some good wins and most of the defeats were by small-ish margins. The most notable results happened within a few days of each other: Sunday November 18th, 2001 – London Irish 48-12 Northampton Saints; Thursday November 22nd, 2001 – Saracens 13-55 London Irish. And we beat Bristol 24-13 in the St Patrick’s match. We finished the season in 4th place, but lost in the play-off ¼ finals to Northampton.
In Europe, we reached the semi-final of the Parker Pen Shield, qualifying from the group including Dax, L’Aquila & Valladolid and a quarter final win in Pau. Pontypridd ended our run.
The cup was now the Powergen cup and the premiership teams now didn’t enter until the 6th round – we won away at Bath and at home to Gloucester setting up a semi-final against Harlequins at the Stoop – here is the match report (with thanks to Ronan MacManus – I hope I recall it correctly ):
There once was a man, a big Quins fan, he was a miserable sod
He went to the S-T-O-O-P, he thought Will Carlin was god
Then the I-R-I-S-H Irish, we covered the stoop in green
and we sang you can stick your chariots up your ****
Now Conor O’Shea had a feeling that day that this was going to be our year
If he could keep them on their G-A-M-E game and off the B-E-E-R beer
Then B-A-R-R-Y Everitt converted all the T-R-Ys
and we sang the F-I-E-L-D-S of Athenry
The G-U-I-N-N-E-S-S has been drunk today
We’ll always sing about the C-U-P and that semi-final day
We’ll have a C-R-A-I-C craic whether we lose or win
and that’s why we’ll always be a better club than the Q-U-I-N quins
I’m sure we have all had occasions following a poor performance and a disappointing result on a cold wet winter’s day when we wonder why we bother.
The answer is 20th April 2002 – a beautiful sunny day at Twickenham, a day when almost everything went right for us. It is well worth spending a couple of hours re-living that day – Powergen Cup Final 2002 (YouTube) (and it saves me having to write any details of the match).
The team that day was – Michael Horak; Paul Sackey, Geoff Appleford, Brendan Venter (Rob Hoadley 79), Justin Bishop; Barry Everitt, Hentie Martens (Darren Edwards 57); Mike Worsley, Naka Drotske (Richard Kirke 46), Rob Hardwick (Simon Halford 46);Ryan Strudwick (captain), Steve Williams (Glenn Delaney 72), Eddie Halvey, Declan Danaher, Chris Sheasby.
It would be good to have your recollections of this day and/or of other favourite matches from the Madejski era – anything from a couple of lines to a few pages, please email Al at: firstname.lastname@example.org