Eric's 50-year love affair with Exiles

PUBLISHED: 15:00 18 December 2008 | UPDATED: 13:58 04 March 2010

MEMORIES: Eric Dickerson

MEMORIES: Eric Dickerson

AS this year comes to an end a special era finishes for one of the stalwarts of Ipswich football.

Eric Dickerson, 67, was one of the founder members of Ipswich Exiles, who celebrated their 50th season in 2008.

AS this year comes to an end a special era finishes for one of the stalwarts of Ipswich football.

Eric Dickerson, 67, was one of the founder members of Ipswich Exiles, who celebrated their 50th season in 2008.

And Eric is still involved with the club that has never been promoted to senior football and has been a member of the Metaltec SIL every year since 1958.

Eric began with Exiles as a player aged 17 and subsequently became manager.

For the last 30 years he has been secretary and admits to washing hundreds of sets of kit during his devotion to his only adult club.

“We were too old to play youth football with Ipswich YMCA Minors,” recalled Eric. “So we started up Exiles never believing that we would still be here 50 years later.

“Many things have changed in that time some for the good and some for the not so good.”

Facilities have improved tremendously over the last half-century when players cycled to games and Blue Bird Coaches were booked to take teams to games outside of Ipswich.

“We used to train midweek under the street lights in Lovetofts Drive,” revealed Eric. “There was a grass verge that we could use, and then we headed back to the Red Lion pub in Bramford Road for a wash and a beer.

“I would not change anything although I wonder what might have happened if we had not been pipped by Heath Row for promotion to senior football in 1963.

“We would have been able to hold on to some good players and not have had to virtually start again.”

Exiles have never played in the Senior Division, with Eric naming the club's highlight as the winning of the Suffolk Minor Cup in 1989 when they beat Waveney Exiles at Saxmundham.

They are now playing in Division Two with three youth sides, having been one of the forerunners of promoting youth football 30 years ago.

Among the players who have gone through their books are Andy Crane and Ian Brown, who both went on to play professionally, Dean Garnham, Dean Barker, Kelvin Knights, John Everett, Micky Bunn and Grahame Davies.

Eric still watches every game with Exiles' home venue now at Rushmere Sports Club.

“Last Saturday was one of the worst days I can remember weather-wise,” said Eric. “It was awful, but it takes nothing away from my love of the game and my loyalty to Exiles.”

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