ALLY DICKSON today revealed how he thought his professional rugby career might be over before it had even begun as he savoured another giant stride down the comeback trail - a key role in the Edinburgh back-up squad’s 40-12 win over Currie at Malleny Park last night.
"When I think back to those seemingly endless hours of rehabilitation work after tearing my cruciate knee ligaments 16 months ago, and before I’d made by Edinburgh debut, I did wonder if I would play again," said the 24-year-old centre.
"I underwent surgery last November and these were really dark days," added the Walkerburn-reared youngster.
"Now, thanks largely to the good work of Edinburgh doctor Stephen Mutch and physio Stuart Barton, I have reached the stage where it is partly a question of not trying to overdo things.
"At times against Currie I certainly was tempted to take on more work than was good for the team, or me, but hopefully I identified the tendency.
"It was easy to get carried away because the big Currie pack were making it hard for us until they began to tire and I was relishing the contest.
"Also the concept of back-up matches is very worthwhile, both from the point of view of identifying young talent and also for players like myself who now have a platform on which to put injury problems behind them.
"Coming through Edinburgh’s opening match against Rotherham last weekend successfully was good, and to get another game under my belt within 48 hours was a huge boost, but at one stage I had to tell myself to stop carrying the ball on so much and concentrate on doing the simple things.
The self-analysis certainly worked, as Dickson helped the back-up squad ring down the curtain by laying on the last of six tries for Boroughmuir’s Ben Fisher.
Certainly Dickson’s name was the one on many fans’ lips as they left Malleny Park and it will be fascinating to see how he renews partnerships with fellow Gunners’ backs Chris Paterson and Marcus di Rollo which were established at age group level with Scotland.
"Turning out again in the same team as the likes of Chris and Marcus is, for me, a considerable incentive," said Dickson.
Meantime his ability to maintain concentration until the end caught the eye of back-up squad coach Iain Paxton.
He said: "I though Ally Dickson proved what a useful talent he is, while others to put their hands up as pro’s-in-the-making included fellow centre Matt Dey and full-back David Millard, who used his pace well.
"Of course, we struggled initially in what was always going to be the difficult part in coming together but we quickly managed to acquire some shape which was encouraging."
Coincidentally, Millard laid on the first of Edinburgh’s six tries for the 18-year-old Watsonian prospect, Alan Nash, and scored one himself, while others came from Ally Warnock (Boroughmuir), Fraser Thomson (West), Chris Bain (Boroughmuir) as well as Fisher. Warnock slotted five conversions.
To begin with, though, Edinburgh looked as though they would struggle for cohesion in comparison to their club opponents who pinned them into the corner and deservedly went ahead when prop Duncan Wilson - whose ball playing skills drew warm appreciation in the Gunners’ camp - drove over for a try which Michael Plum converted.
What partly prevented Currie building on their advantage, apart from a Kent Rae try at the start of the second period to close the gap to 12-19, was the need to integrate a host of new players.
Their other problem was the sheer class throughout the visitors’ ranks, where teenage prop John Cox was another to impress with one bullocking run lifting a would-be tackler off his feet.
Skipper John Shaw acknowledged the dice were loaded against his side, but insisted the encounter was a worthwhile exercise.
Shaw, who has opted to remain with Currie despite being a signing target for national league side Dalziel, said: "Performance was always going to be more important than the scoreline.
"To that extent I was especially pleased that we scrummaged solidly and got the line-out basics correct."
Where Currie looked particularly strong is in the acquisition of Australian prop Danny Woolnough who was rightly described by Shaw as "dynamic", while New Zealander Grant Johnston had one penetrating burst from full-back besides revealing a prodigious boot.
Shaw also praised former Scotland age group hooker Andy Kelly who has moved over from Stewart’s/Melville.
Also, scrum-half Iain Monaghan looks to have grown in confidence as a consequence of being called upon by Edinburgh last weekend.
He could well now become one of the leading lights of the Premiership.
The Edinburgh shadow squad’s next outing is at Heriot’s FP tomorrow week.
Edinburgh called on the following players: Millard, Couper, Dey, Dickson, Nash, Warnock, Bain, Talac, Thomson, Dickinson, Snodgrass, Pike, Strokosch, Fisher, Brown, Burns, Malloy, Cox, Linton, Fraser, Barrie, Borthwick.
Currie used the following: Johnston, Gracie, Muldoon, Mooney, Gentile, Plum, Monaghan, Wilson, Kelly, Quigley, Hogg, Adams, Sneddon, Cairns, Shaw, Tait, Barratt, Dingwall, Rae, Macdonald, Russell, Woolnough.
Referee: Mike Hall (Boroughmuir).