Tim Holland: In recent weeks you’ve been included in our articles on West Ham’s best defenders and best captains. How does it feel to still have a good relationship with the fans?
Julian Dicks: It means a lot to still be remembered by the fans and to be included in these countdowns considering the great players West Ham have had over the years. To be mentioned as one of the great captains in the same breath as Bobby Moore is an honour.
TH: Looking back at your career, you were Hammer of the Year four times and you won promotion to the Premier League but what was your overall highlight?
JD: It’s tough to single out one highlight – I joined West Ham when I was very young and all I knew about the team was Billy Bonds and John Lyall but I quickly grew to love the place and we had some good times along the way. Being voted Hammer of the Year four times was a bonus. So overall the highlight was playing for West Ham and getting to play at Upton Park in front of great fans.
TH: Who was the best player you played with in your time?
JD: That’s a tough question. In terms of West Ham, I played with some legends like Alan Devonshire, Billy Bonds, and Liam Brady. Devonshire had so much grace for a footballer but I’d have to go for Billy Bonds because he had such passion on the pitch. Outside West Ham I played with the likes of Paul Gascoigne and Alan Shearer in England teams and they were great players but out of the two, I’d probably go for Paul Gascoigne – an amazing player.
TH: You’ve done various things since retiring from football – dog breeder, golfer, publican, pundit, manager and now coach. Have you settled into your retirement from playing?
JD: I’ve not settled into my retirement and I don’t think I ever will. I was bitter at the start and said I didn’t want to get involved in football again but it eats away at you. I’ve had a couple of management jobs and I’ve applied for plenty of roles but I haven’t got them. I’ve applied for jobs at West Ham and have been told I don’t have the experience but it’s a catch 22 situation – how can you get experience without getting the jobs? I think it’s changed in recent years, the best manager I played under was John Lyall and his coaches were ex-players like Ronnie Boyce. They knew the game and they loved the club but nowadays you need a computer qualification just to get your foot in the door. But I still love football so that’s why I’m doing coaching now – helping kids and adults both at home and abroad to become better footballers. I don’t think I’ll ever properly retire.
TH: You mentioned you were a bit bitter about how it ended?
JD: It could’ve ended better for me – especially as I was quite young and the way the club and chairman at the time wanted to pay me off. All I ever wanted to do was play football, that’s all I’ve ever wanted to do.
TH: Wasn’t it Harry Redknapp who moved you to Liverpool and also played you out of position at the end of your West Ham career?
JD: Getting played out of position didn’t really bother me – the writing was on the wall before then. Yeah I suppose Harry helped the move to Liverpool along. I was enjoying my football and Harry, who was assistant to Billy [Bonds] at the time, came along and told me of their interest and said he could get me a move but I was never told I was still wanted at West Ham. If Billy had told me that then I would’ve stayed.
TH: Where do you stand on the current West Ham regime? Gold, Sullivan, Brady and Allardyce? And the West Ham way?
JD: I won’t comment on Brady but I like Gold and Sullivan. I think they have done a good job at West Ham and genuinely have the best interests of the club at heart. You can see that from David Gold on Twitter because he takes the time to speak to the fans. They did well at Birmingham. People say they sold the club for a profit but then again they worked hard and put a lot of their own money so why shouldn’t they? As for Allardyce, I like him as a person and I think he has done well for West Ham. But I’m not sure about the style of football we play sometimes and I think he was wrong to say West Ham hasn’t been a good footballing side. I can definitely remember us playing good football in my time! But in fairness it’s a results-based business and he’s done a good job so far.
TH: Where do you stand on the Olympic stadium? Do you think we should abandon the Boleyn Ground in the pursuit of glory?
JD: I think it’s always going to be tough for people moving away from Upton Park but sometimes things need to change in order to grow. I think the Olympic stadium should only be used if it can be affordable for all West Ham fans. I’m not talking about £40 for a ticket but £40 for a family of four. Football shouldn’t just be for the people that can afford a season ticket it should be for everyone.
TH: Finally, what’s your prediction for West Ham this season?
JD: I still think we need four or five new players otherwise we could struggle. But with Sam Allardyce you get stability just look at what did at Bolton Wanderers for so long and that’s what West Ham need – stability in the long term.
*Julian has now set up a football coaching school for kids and adults. If you or your team would like to get involved or have a training session please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further info.