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The Stoop Is Dead, Long Live The Stoop

By Prof
July 27 2005

The first announcement at the press conference on Tuesday 26th July 2005 was that The Stoop Memorial Ground was to have a change of name, it will be called 'The Twickenham Stoop' from the start of the season.

Mark Evans spoke first.

‘We had some dark days at the end of April and we had some difficult weeks following that but since then, as many of you on the Union side will know, we have had a lot of positive news on a whole range of fronts: our season ticket sales are up over 4000, the second best performance in the club’s history; the Lexus Stand is nearing completion and we are very confident that it will be completed for our first home game on September 17th which will see us playing in what we believe to be one of the best purpose built rugby stadia in England.

A great day at The Stoop Memorial Ground ©Prof
A great day at The Stoop Memorial Ground ©Prof

We’ve had tremendous support from our fan base, you’ll see around the strapline that we have been working to all through the summer “Commitment, Loyalty, Belief” and we’ve come a long way in a very short period of time. It was only 5 years ago when Harlequins were playing in the Premiership in front of pretty small crowds with a pretty small fan base and here we are now, five years later, with massive investment in the stadium, a disappointing performance last season but we fully intend to come straight back to be a force in English rugby union again. 

We know that this may seem rather ambitious but we have changed the club over the past five years. Harlequins was perhaps perceived as standoffish and perhaps even a little bit elitist, but this has changed. Now we are a locally based, community club who are committed to growing sport as well as giving people a great time in Twickenham and Richmond area. As a part of that we want to reflect the changes within the club we would like to announce this morning that from the beginning of next season the name of the ground will change.

Since 1963, when Harlequins arrived here (first game, Cambridge University – lost 15-0) and took over a very, very long lease on the ground in 1970, it’s been called The Stoop Memorial Ground in memory of one of the great Harlequins of yesteryear Adrian Stoop. We didn’t want to move too far away from that tradition, we are very conscious that the club has been going since 1866 as Hampstead Football Club, it split in 1870 and Harlequins and Wasps were born. Since then Harlequins have played at 15 grounds in their history although we have been here at The Stoop for forty two years.

So the first announcement today is that the ground will, in the future, be referred to as The Twickenham Stoop which we think more accurately reflects our core values and reflects that we are rooted more and more deeply in the locale.

It may appear as quite a small change but to us it reflects the type of club we have become and will continue to be.’

A video was then shown:

“Established in 1866, Harlequin Football Club is probably the best known rugby club in the world. A founder member of the RFU Harlequins has affiliated clubs as far afield as Melbourne, Hamilton, Pretoria, Nairobi, Dallas and Hobart. Playing in the renowned multi-coloured shirt Harlequins are synonymous with quality, class and style, summed up by the club’s adage “When you play, play with style”. Quins’ famous home, The Stoop Memorial Ground, forms a huge part of the club’s heritage and tradition and indeed has been home to some of the most famous names in world rugby: Peter Winterbottom, Will Carling, Troy Coker, Paul Ackford, Micky Skinner, Brian Moore, Andy Harriman, Chris Sheasby, Jason Leonard, Keith Wood, Zinzan Brooke, David Wilson and Will Greenwood to name but a few.

And where will you find The Stoop Memorial Ground? – Twickenham, a name and a place synonymous with world class rugby, but it wasn’t until 1963 that Quins moved to their current home at The Stoop because, for over fifty years previously, Quins played at the national stadium at Twickenham itself, rugby heritage indeed.

The Stoop Memorial Ground was named after Adrian Dura Stoop who played for Quins 182 times between 1901 and 1939, captained the side for 8 years, was honourary secretary for 28 years and finally became President between 1920 and 1949, he was a true Harlequin and he was said to be the person who developed modern back play, so who better to name the Harlequins stadium after? 

Today The Stoop is unrecognisable to those early days in the 1960s, in recent years the stadium has undergone huge redevelopment with a new East Stand, the new North Stand and the now truly impressive new Lexus Stand. The Stoop is set to become arguably the best rugby club stadium in the country, and of course the club will also be continuing with its ongoing commitment to the community.

Harlequins, whilst becoming one of the most progressive clubs in world rugby, will remain true to its traditions at home at The Twickenham Stoop.”

What will this mean to the fans?
In my opinion, not a lot really. Everyone will still refer to it as The Stoop, we'll no more call it The Twickenham Stoop than we used to call it The Stoop Memorial Ground. So from now on Harlequins will play at The (Twickenham) Stoop rather than The Stoop (Memorial Ground). It seems to have been changed so the changes off the pitch and in the culture of Quins can be reflected in the change of name of the ground. The new name will give non-rugby supporters and people from out of borough instant information about where our ground is.

One thing is certain and that is that The Stoop will be a great ground to watch rugby in when the new 'Lexus' West Stand is opened for the first league game of the season.

There is talk of the South Stand being replaced in two years time possibly with part of it or the North Stand becoming terraces too. So all in all the future's bright, the future's polychrome!

The new Lexus Stand taking shape   ©Prof
The new Lexus Stand taking shape ©Prof

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