Julian Dicks on football and life
PUBLISHED: 13:43 12 February 2009 | UPDATED: 14:02 04 March 2010
They don't make footballers like Julian Dicks any more. Blood, muck and bullets, he was your man for a battle back in the 80s and 90s as a hard, tough-tackling left back.
They don't make footballers like Julian Dicks any more. Blood, muck and bullets, he was your man for a battle back in the 80s and 90s as a hard, tough-tackling left back. Today as the new manager of Wivenhoe Town, Dicks has given up life in the Spanish sun to help resurrect the fortunes of the Dragons in the non-league scene of the Ridgeons League. From Birmingham City, Liverpool and West Ham to grass roots football at Broad Lane, Dicks - 'The Terminator' - has plenty of views of the game, past, present and future. Green'Un editor Mike Bacon caught up with him to find out more.
IF you wanted someone
alongside you in the
trenches, someone you can trust to give it his all, someone with passion and commitment, whose heart is so emblazoned on his sleeve, it bleeds look no further than Julian Dicks.
In his prime he was one of English football's toughest full-backs, so adored by his fans.
Bad injuries, red cards, newspaper headlines, Dicks, now 40, has seen it all and done most of it.
Seven years out of the game, but the glint in the eye tells you Dicks is back, albeit with a tough assignment to help save the Ridgeons Premier Division survival of Wivenhoe Town.
It's a far cry from Anfield, Old Trafford or the Boleyn Ground and if I was expecting a rough-talking, brash ex-Premiership player, whose reputation invariably arrived at a football ground long before he did, I couldn't have been further off the mark.
Dicks can talk as quietly and concisely as hard as he could tackle. Good fun and interesting, he played at a time when many considered the game 'great'.
No Baby Bentleys or prawn sandwiches here, with Dicks then and now, it's just good honest football. You want 100%, forget it... with Dicks it's 110 or nothing.
We meet for a drink just outside Braintree and as we walked into the pub, the landlord recognized him immediately.
“Dicksy. Get this man a drink,” the landlord beamed with affection.
DICKS ON... Where it all started
I WAS born in Bristol on an estate and quite honestly was getting in all sorts of scrapes.
As a 13-year-old I was trialling at Aston Villa, but when the manager Ron Saunders left, he asked me to go to
follow him to Birmingham.
So even though I was very young, I left home and moved into digs in Birmingham. It was a bit scary especially to move away from my family in Bristol.
But play football is all I wanted to do. I made my debut at 17 when John Bond was boss at Birmingham.
It was against Luton and I turned pro the day after. I had gone from a young apprentice polishing boots, clearing the stands, cleaning the toilets, to becoming a professional player.
Dicks on... his managers
I PLAYED under some good managers and I got on well with all of them.
John Lyall: John took me from Birmingham to West Ham. I remember him saying, “It's £650 a week and £100 an appearance, you've got five minutes to think about it.”
I think I only needed five seconds.
John was a lovely man but when I played at West Ham with him we had some seasons of struggle to be honest.
But he never raised his voice, even when we were terrible. Everyone respected John, I certainly did.
Ron Saunders: I liked Ron a lot. He was a hard disciplinarian and really big into his fitness.
John Bond: John was a right character and loved his cigars. He tried to get me to play up front, but I was all over the place. I preferred midfield or full-back.
“For God's Sake, Dicks, forget it, get lost and go and train over there,” I remember him saying.
Graeme Souness: A lot of people didn't like Graeme, but I did. I only played 28 games at Liverpool, but I found Graeme honest.
If you were rubbish he said so, but not out loud in front of all the other players. I didn't feel some of the players gave him enough and I wasn't impressed with that. Plus Liverpool had some real traditions and rules which really annoyed me.
At West Ham I could get to the ground early and take one of the keepers out and do some shooting, but at Liverpool that wasn't allowed. You trained at 10.30am and finished about 1.30pm. It was like a rule and no going over or before that.
When Graeme left, Ronnie Moran and Roy Evans took more charge and I didn't see eye to eye with them.
Harry Redknapp: Harry was the best man manager I have played under.
He was also an excellent coach. It has never surprised me what Harry has gone on to do because he had the right attitude towards everyone.
Billy Bonds: Bondsy was a legend at West Ham and we played together a few times, so when he took over as boss at West Ham, he knew me well.
We used to clash a lot, at half-time or in training. I often stormed out of training when Billy was in charge.
DICKS ON... dark days
WHEN I was 22 I had a serious knee injury which kept me out for 14 months.
I was young and bored, I just used to drink in the evenings and I mean drink. I ended up going to see my
doctor and said at this rate I'm going to become an alcoholic.
So he said take up golf. I thought he was having a laugh, but I gave it a go and got the bug. I had a knee brace and that helped me play, so off I went.
I later turned pro when my career finished, so everything happens for a reason I suppose.
Five years later my knee went again and West Ham wanted to pay me off. I wouldn't have minded if they wanted to pay my contract up, but they didn't, only about half of it.
I went to Alabama to see a specialist who worked with the American Football guys.
He contacted my specialist in England and I had the op. I was out for another 18 months, although I coped better this time.
DICKS ON... The terminator
I WAS nicknamed The Terminator because after my first knee operation I told a newspaper “I'LL BE BACK”. And that was it really.
People were writing me off at the time, but I was determined I wasn't
To me football is all about winning and I would do anything to win. Even when I knew I was having a bad game, I never gave up.
When I was 14, I was only six stone and really slight and my dad told me if I wanted to be a player I had to be more aggressive. So I was.
As a youngster I was at Birmingham with some big characters including Mark Dennis and Mick Harford, so I had to stick up for myself.
DICKS ON... regrets
I DON'T have any regrets regarding playing football.
Well, perhaps just a couple.
I remember playing at Newcastle one day and little Franz Carr was
giving me the runaround. He could give me seven yards start and still beat me over 10.
In the end I remember him coming towards me and I just decided to elbow him in the face. I remember it so clearly, I just had to do it.
It was so premeditated and right in front of the Newcastle fans. I didn't bother waiting for the red card, I just walked off!
I was accused of stamping on John Spencer's head at Chelsea once. But that's not a regret, because it was an accident.
DICKS ON... football today
THE problem I have with football today is what I see as a lack of effort from some players.
I have no problem with the money they earn, good luck to them. But some just don't put the effort in to earn such amounts.
And all this kissing the badge when they score.
I never kissed any badge for a club I played for, I showed my colours by
giving absolutely everything, every single game.
So many players have no loyalty. They get showered and walk straight to their cars, some clubs have tunnels from the changing rooms to the car park, so they can avoid fans.
I used to spend an hour at West Ham after games signing autographs and then go and have a pint in the Boleyn Arms with them.
Can you imagine a Premiership player today having a pint with fans after a game?
I have always felt sorry for the fans. I remember when West Ham had a bond scheme going, I told The Sun newspaper you can't expect fans to fork out more money with some of the rubbish we are playing.
I was fined two weeks wages for that.
I always loved the fans and always clapped fans after games.
Today you watch
managers like Ferguson and Redknapp having to point their players over to their fans to go and applaud them.
DICKS ON... Wivenhoe
I'VE been living in Spain for about three years, but quite honestly I'd been getting a bit bored.
I got a call from my friend Nick Murphy-Whymark and most people know the rest, I'm here now. It's a
challenge, a massive challenge and there is no money about at the club.
And let's be honest, every club needs a bit of money, even if it's just to pay a few expenses for the players.
Our first game was at Needham Market and I sensed from the players if we kept the score in single figures then we had done well.
But God it was a nightmare, some players couldn't pass five yards.
We kept the score respectable and then lost 3-0 at Wisbech, when after 70 minutes it was goalless.
Against Dereham the other week it was embarrassing. I don't mind players making mistakes, but that first 45 minutes was just crap.
I so wanted to throw a few tea cups about and go mad at half-time, but I didn't. That wouldn't have achieved anything.
But I did demand 110% all round, that's all I can ask for.
Don't just hoof the ball forward and stand and watch it, move, run, give everything, I told them.
If one player makes a solid tackle, it lifts everyone, that's football all round, not just at Wivenhoe.
We were 4-0 down at the break, but 'won' the second half 2-1. If we play the rest of the season like we did in that second 45, we'll be ok.
I'm flying back to Spain for a few days soon, but that's the first time I've been back since I've been over here.
If I'm going to do something I do it properly and I have no intention of flying backwards and forwards to Spain all the time, while I am managing Wivenhoe.
DICKS ON... family life
I'M divorced, but have a girlfriend.
My twin girls from my first marriage are 20 now, one lives near Maldon and one in Spain with their mum.
My new partner has two boys who also live in Spain.
They come to England to see their father each month.
DICKS ON... golf
AS I said I started playing golf because of my first knee injury.
I got really good at it, playing off scratch and turned pro about eight years ago.
I had a go on the EuroPro tour and a pro tour in Spain, but quite honestly it is so hard.
I would come in with a level par score and thought I'd done well, but I was miles away as others came in six and seven under par.
DICKS ON... the future
I'M enjoying Wivenhoe, but the club needs money and the future is tough for them if we don't get help.
I finished football when I was 29 and to be honest I was very bitter about it. I still am to a point, but not as bad. It took me a few years to get over it.
But now I want to be a top manager at a top club.
I'm ambitious and if the right offers come along in the future, then I'll take them.
It's about being in the right place at the right time. Paul Ince got his chance at Macclesfield and then Blackburn, I'd love to get an opportunity.
At the moment I'm at Wivenhoe and enjoying it, but I'll never hide my ambitions. I love Spain and 300 days of sunshine, but I don't think I'd cut it in management over there.
Firstly I don't speak much Spanish and secondly I don't think I could handle all the players rolling around, it would do my head in.