Dickson delighted as Saints finally shake off ‘nearly men’ tag

Northampton Saints victory parade in Northampton following win Aviva Premiership final against Saracens in 2014 NNL-140306-091453001

Northampton Saints victory parade in Northampton following win Aviva Premiership final against Saracens in 2014 NNL-140306-091453001

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Lee Dickson left the Heineken Cup final of 2011 in tears.

He wanted to make a hasty exit from the Millennium Stadium on a day when heartbreak was the main theme in the Northampton camp.

From 22-6 up at half-time, they had surrendered during the second half, with nothing left in the tank.

Leinster, inspired by Jonny Sexton, roared back to score 27 unanswered points and claim the trophy in darkness punctuated by pyrotechnics.

Last year, Dickson was a little more upbeat, managing a smile as he headed out of Twickenham following Saints’ defeat to Leicester.

There was a feeling they had done well just to get to that final and their fate had been sealed when Dylan Hartley was dismissed just before the break.

But this year, there was expectation.

And Saints lived up to it, making up for the agony that had gone before by bringing the big one - the Premiership trophy - back to Northampton.

And, needless to say, Dickson’s mood was slightly different at the denouement of a game that had everything, but, most importantly, yielded a Saints win.

“Last year was devastating,” said Dickson focusing on the past and present in equal measure.

“We have got to finals before, we’ve got to the Heineken Cup final, we’ve been to LV= finals, and we’ve just not won.

“We knew on Saturday it would be all about little margins, and I think we played the game well.

“We controlled it well, and just got that edge we needed in the last minute. It was an amazing feeling.

“We have been on the other side of it, and it is nice to be on the winning side now.”

Saints spent the month of May removing millstones from around the club’s neck.

They ended a run of 10 winless matches against Leicester with a stunning last-gasp win on an unforgettable Friday night at Franklin’s Gardens.

They ended a run of four successive final defeats with a second-half blitz against Bath in the Amlin Challenge Cup final at Cardiff Arms Park, banishing their demons in the Welsh capital.

And, last weekend, they finally ended a 14-year wait for a major trophy by bringing the league title back to town for the first time.

And Dickson is now setting more goals as he and his talented team-mates bid to keep the success story going.

“That (winning more trophies) is definitely the aim,” he said.

“We have had a taste of it now and we don’t just want to be one trophy ponies.

“We want to now go back to the drawing board, not get above ourselves, and work out how we can improve, how we can get back to this big showcase final, and how we can win more.”

Dickson has headed off with seven of his Saints team-mates – Alex Waller, Dylan Hartley, Courtney Lawes, Tom Wood, Stephen Myler, Luther Burrell and Ben Foden – for the England tour of New Zealand.

And with players who took part in the Premiership final not included in the squad for the first Test this Saturday, Dickson is hoping the other members of the national squad can get the job done.

“It is going to be a huge summer,” said the Saints No.9.

“After winning the league, everybody is on a bit of a buzz and we just want to get over there.

“Hopefully the boys can do a massive thing for us and win that first Test at the weekend, and I believe in them.

“England have a hell of a good squad, and it will be an amazing feeling to get out there and team up with the boys.”

Interview by Jeremy Casey