Whilst we have been raving all season about our new attacking free-flowing football, whilst at the same time Twitter has a meltdown when we don’t win every game and blame the world’s problems on Kevin Nolan, my personal highpoint of the season has been the signing of Aaron Creswell.
The lad has been a revelation and will be getting my vote as Hammer of the Year. Now this got me thinking, that basically it has taken us circa 15-years to finally find a replacement at left-back for Julian Dicks.
Now, you may ask why would I bring up Julian Dicks, well the fact is that Julian done me a massive favour this week by helping me out when I requested he sign a shirt for a friend of mine who has been very unwell. I sent a tweet and Julian got back to me within five minutes, arrangements were made and I was up at Chadwell Heath the other night were Julian kindly signed the shirt, following his coaching of the ladies team. Julian was a gentleman and even kindly posed for a photo with me in selfie mode!
So I thought why not now take this opportunity to look back at Julian Dicks time at West Ham. It is no exaggeration to suggest that Julian was the most popular and skilful player at the club during the 90s and it bugs the hell out of me when his name is brought up in the media the old hard man stereotype get thrown at him. True, Julian was hard as nuts, if you look on the internet there is a great image of him squaring up to Roy Keane, and I know who I would back if it ever all did kick-off! However, there was so much more to Julian’s game, the sweet left foot, heading ability, skill, passing ability, goal scoring and yes of course those penalties!
I was bit young to remember his early days at the club but I remember being devastated when he suffered his first serious knee injury, having read his book, this should have finished him, however, Julian returned but sadly he alone was not enough to keep us up, but Julian stayed loyal as dropped down a division and this was I started going regularly to games. Now, Julian got sent off three times that season and it is fair he had discipline issues, however, for me his ability outshone all that, as when he played he was easily the best player on the pitch. Oxford United at home he scored two long rage specials, lovely stuff! I believe after Trevor Morley he was our top scorer, this was our left back!
We went up, however, it was clear the team needed to strengthen and the only solution appeared to be cashing in on Julian. To say I was devastated would be an understatement, as a nerdy 15-year-old he was my idol along with Kurt Cobain! However, the deal in the short-term worked well for West Ham, we got David Burrows, Mike Marsh and with the cash Lee Chapman came in which was enough to keep us comfortably. The move to Liverpool did not work out for Julian and joyfully – well,maybe not for Julian – he returned to West Ham a year later. Sheer joy for a still nerdy 16-year-old, following the earlier return of Tony Cottee!
For the next few season Julian was a again in my opinion our most important player, the disappointing spell at Liverpool had seen Julian return a bit more grown up, he even admits this on a interview in a season review I recently dug out. If it was not for having cropped his hair he would have got his deserved England call-up – interestingly, I just heard an interview with Ian Bishop in which he suggests he did not get a call-up as his barnet was too long! Sums up the running of the national team really!
My last great memory of Julian at the Boleyn Ground was his two goals against Tottenham Hotspur on a wind swept Monday night, resulting in a thrilling 4-3 win, sadly soon after his knee problem returned and Julian was on the sidelines for almost 18 months. Julian did return to the side, but the team had moved on in his absence with Harry Redknapp adopting a wing back system. Julian retired at the end of the season, however, in his testimonial another club legend Paolo Di Canio started a near riot, not a bad way for Julian Dicks to bail out hey?!
So there you go, Julian Dicks a club legend, gentleman with much to offer for West Ham moving forward and who will put a massive smile on my mates face when he gets the signed shirt.