THE ‘Meet the New Gaffa Day’ celebrated the reunion for hundreds of Swifts and Hammers fans with West Ham legend Julian Dicks on his return to the Aspen Waite Arena for his second spell in charge of Heybridge, writes JON LONGMAN.

Dicks’ first duty was to welcome new sponsors of the Swifts youth section, RDC, a Braintree company who are keen to invest in grassroots football.

Dicks was a regular at the Swifts youth games during his last spell and is looking forward to renewing acquaintances and seeing how the youngsters have progressed since his sojourn with West Brom.

Dicks welcomed the representatives of IT environmental recycling organisation RDC that has agreed a multi-year partnership with the Swifts youth section to invest and support the youth section of the club.

RDC marketing manager Charlie Wood said: “RDC have been looking at what we as an organisation could give back to the community as we move out of the pandemic which have been testing times for both children and families within our community.

“When the Heybridge Swifts Youth section approached us for support, we instantly knew that this family-based club that offers safe, fun and inclusive football for both boys and girls from the age of seven right through to under-23s was something we wanted to get involved with.

“Our partnership will help make grass roots football affordable to all of the teams within the Heybridge Swifts Youth section, providing children with access to physical, mental and social wellbeing through team sport, which is something we are very excited supporting.

“We look forward to following the progress of all of the youth teams and the first team next season.”

While he as busy signing books for fans, Dicks said: “I’m delighted to be back as I have unfinished business at the Swifts.”

The club were denied promotion to the Isthmian Premier three seasons ago. The Swifts won the play-off final only to be denied promotion by the FA’s pyramid changes.

Dicks is still fuming about the FA’s “ridiculous decision” to deny the Swifts a return to the Premier Division after a lengthy absence.

Saturday also marked a second reunion with the return of Dicks’ successor, Karl Duguid, after the Colchester stalwart took a break from football. as his number two.

“We were delighted to see so many people and I think they all had an enjoyable afternoon,” said Swifts vice-chairman Steve Spreadbury.

“We were delighted to welcome back the team of Julian and Karl to take us forward into what we hope will be another good season.

“They had a busy afternoon, signing autographs, chatting and answering many questions.”