After another Classic Match streaming this afternoon, Tom Vickers puts together his review from one of the greatest days in Northampton Saints history, as the men in Black, Green and Gold were crowned champions of England in 2014...
This was for all of the seasons when supporters dared to dream.
For all the years they told others that this was their team’s time. For all the years when those prophecies didn’t come true.
This was for those routinely melancholy months of May. For the heartbreaking Heineken Cup Final defeat to Leinster in 2011. For last year’s Premiership showpiece loss to Leicester.
This was for the tortuous play-off semi-final defeat at home to Saracens in 2010. For the excruciating play-off semi-final loss at Tigers in 2011. For the harrowing defeat at Harlequins in 2012.
This was for all those times when victory was just seconds away, yet snatched so cruelly from Saints’ grasp. This was a season when the tables turned.
This was for the Barwell family. For Leon who would have been looking down with a smile etched on his face. The late chairman did so much to steer the ship out of choppy waters last season.
This was for every question Leon answered and acted upon at the fans’ forum in February last year. For all the hours he put in to bring the likes of George North and Alex Corbisiero to this town.
This was for Keith Barwell, the man who has poured money into the club’s coffers since the early days of professionalism. This was for every time his commitment looked like it wouldn’t be rewarded with the Premiership trophy it merited.
This was for young Luis Ghaut, who bravely battled his illness to ensure he would be able to walk out alongside his heroes at Twickenham. The inspirational mascot deserved a celebration. He got one.
Who else was this for? This was for all of those men who weren’t able to play a part in the final. For Tom Collins, Ethan Waller, Ross McMillan and many, many more who helped put the club in position for a Premiership Final appearance.
This was for all those coaches who have worked so intently to bring players through the Saints system. For all those who have ensured the potential of players like Courtney Lawes and Alex Waller, whose last-gasp try won the title for his home town club, was realised.
And this was, of course, for all of those who have supported this club through thick and thin. For everyone who helped pack out the Gardens even when their side was relegated to England’s second tier.
This was for those who don the Black, Green and Gold (or lime) and travel mile after mile to drive their team on in the toughest of away games. For those who were at Exeter, at Newcastle, and many other stops on the route to Premiership glory.
This was for every time these players have been labelled bridesmaids. For every time the likes of Leicester and Saracens have celebrated, while Saints took a seat in the shadows.
This day at Twickenham, this 100 minutes of intense, bonecrunching rugby, was worth it, because Saints brought home the trophy.
No more are they the nearly men. They are the main men.
They are the champions of England.