As I walked into the room in Mr. Anthony Copsey's baronial mansion where the interview was about to take place I felt nervous - it was like entering a lion's den but the famous photograph of the ticket tout outside The Stoop put me at ease and made me realise that although TC has an amazingly rude and unwelcoming public side to his nature (something akin to Anne Robinson on a bad day chewing a wasps' nest) he is really quite acceptable and one might even say affable.
So now it was time for my attempt to Focus On ...
The Professor (TP): You were a hero of the Fez Boys at Sarries and they had a song about you and recently this song has even been heard coming from the lips of Diamond Geezers at The Stoop, so maybe asking you about it is a good way to start this interview.
TP: "There's only one Tony Copsey, Only one Tony Copsey" - well I have looked through the electoral register and the currently available censuses and it seems that there are loads so maybe we should just ignore this terrible start to the interview.
TP: "He's seven feet tall" - are you?
Tony Copsey (TC): " Well actually I am 6ft 7in tall ; but as I always say if I was all in proportion I would be 10ft 7in tall !! "
TP: "Built like a wall" - would you say that you are, or is there another player that deserves this description more than you?
TC: In my hayday maybe - but the wall is a little softer now. As far as players in the current squad that deserve the description look no further than Garrick Morgan or Jason Leonard.
I moved uneasily in my chair and decided not to ask anything further about the song lyrics - his hands looked rough and very strong! The interview wasn't going as well as I had hoped and I could see TC getting angrier and angrier.
TP: So you played rugby for Wales - how come - after all you're not Welsh, are you?
TC: I qualified as my parents had a Welsh dresser in their kitchen.
Seriously, I qualified because I had been living and playing in Wales for over 7 years. I also had the honour at the time of being picked for both the England and Welsh squads for that year's Five nations and had to choose.
It has always been a great privilege and honour to play for the Principality."
Then, all of a sudden Tony Copsey proved himself to be Welsh when he started singing "Quinn the Eskimo" in perfect Welsh, he even managed to sing in harmony with himself which I thought only Mongolian and Tibetan throat singers could do - and DaliQuin (aka Fletch) too of course. It was a good rendition of the song and strangely the lyrics made more sense than usual!
TP: You are Managing Director at Harlequins what exactly does that mean?
TC: It means I can sing 'Quinn the Eskimo' in whatever language I like in the office and no one can tell me to stop. Apart from this dubious privilege I am basically responsible for all activity that happens off the field in the areas of Commercial and Marketing. This includes such areas as Sponsorship, Corporate Hospitality, Events, Other Match Day & Commercial Sales, Marketing, Promotions, PR & Media, Community & Membership & Season Tickets, Merchadise, Ticketing, Stadium Operations (now that Ross has left.), and anything else you can think of.
TP: So taking all of that into consideration what is your routine on match day at The Stoop?
TC: Getting to the Stoop at about 9am and doing a walk around the stadium to check all areas and doing any last minute trouble shooting. The rest of the day is split between spending time with sponsors in boxes, with the Community Dept, the match entertainments guys etc. We actually have a detailed running order for every match which includes all activities from the match sponsor, clients in boxes and the Carvery, Which associated clubs are doing curtain raisers and coaching clinics, how many kids are down doing the dance workshop with Harley's Angels, What's going on in the Mighty Quins Village, to what live band is on in the East Stand bar after the match. We have some excellent staff that make all this happen and I am basically their to oversee all these activities.
TP: So, assuming the team has won, what would be your favourite drink to celebrate with?
TC: Anything if its free - or a pint.
TP: Assuming that your favourite drink hasn't completely eroded your memory - what is your favourite Quins memory so far?
TC: Winning the European Shield and the night after the Tetleys Bitter Cup Final last year at the Stoop.
TP: Rugby players and DGs are both famous for having a range of nicknames - what are yours and why (please remember children and people of weak constitution may be reading this)?
TC: 'Judge' due to the number of court sessions I chaired when I was a player. 'King of the Fez ' from my playing days at Saracens when the 'Fez Boys' took a liking to me (hence the song ).
TP: DGs are also famous for wearing their trademark trews - what would it take to make you wear a pair?
TC: Two pints of Murphy's and a curry ( who said I was cheap.)
TP: Being a man who has the reputation for having "been around a bit" where would you say your favourite rugby venue is (after The Stoop of course)?
TC: Stradey Park (Llanelli RFC's home ground) where I played 12 years of great rugby and had some great times.
TP: On away trips, and foreign trips in particular, you always have the reputation for getting back to the hotel later than everyone else - often returning from various illegal late night drinking emporia just in order to get the free breakfast at the hotel before going out to the next quaffing venue - how much money do you think the club would save if they didn't bother hiring you the top floor of the hotel on every trip?
TC: No comment. Let just say it wasn't me.
TP: On one recent away trip - Castres - you were seen in a nightclub dancing to and singing YMCA, which begs one question - good God man, what were you thinking?
TC: I was having a religious experience at the time
At this point Tony Copsey's better half entered with their newborn daughter and I realised it was time to leave. Tony (or Mr. Copsey, sir - as he had asked me to call him), ever the gentleman, escorted me to the door and he gave me a very sporting 30 second start before he released the hounds.
As I sprinted along the three mile long gravel driveway that would take me away from "Dunruckin'" - Copsey's family pile, I looked back on the interview and asked myself about the man, or rather the enigma, that is Mr. Anthony Copsey and one thing sprang to mind - he never even offered me a drink!
As I reached the safety of the road and vaulted into my ornithopter mere seconds ahead of his specially bred (and freakishly large) attack corgis I realised that I was now sober and could now "Focus On... Tony Copsey"
The Diamond Geezers would like to congratulate Tony and Annamaria on the birth of their daughter on Monday 21st January 2002.