JULIAN Dicks says he would love to see his Heybridge Swifts side playing 'the West Ham way', next season.

Hammers legend Dicks has returned to Swifts for a third spell in charge of the Pitching In Isthmian League division north side.

Dicks made close to 300 appearances across two spells with the Hammers after making his debut in 1988 and also had a spell on the club's coaching staff before leaving, in 2017.

The former tough-tackling defender says he would ideally like his Swifts team to play attractive football, next season.

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Dicks told the Swifts website: "I like to play football I think the right way, with the ball on the floor - ball possession, keeping the ball.

"It's a big factor, because every time you give the ball away you become under pressure.

"I remember last time when I was here before, the boys just kept giving the ball away all the time and it's hard to get the ball back, at any level.

"So ideally, it's about keeping the ball.

"Do I like to play out from the back? Of course I do but sometimes, that's not possible.


"It depends on the team that you're playing and the players that you're playing against.

"For me, I would love to play the West Ham way but we'll see what happens."

Dicks is back at Heybridge after replacing Steve Tilson, who resigned from his position after nearly three years in the hot seat.

"It feels great to be back," he said.

"The pitch looks incredible, the stands look good - everything looks fantastic out there.

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"I think every manager should be looking to get promoted straight away.

"It doesn't always happen and obviously, there's a lot of factors i.e. with players budgets and everything else.

"But as a manager, I'm very ambitious and I would love to go straight back up.

"Is it possible? Of course it's possible.

"Will it happen? I don't know but you always try to do that and every player should be the same, so only time will tell."


Dicks' coaching methods prevented Heybridge from dropping into the Essex Senior League and then took them to the brink of promotion to the Isthmian Premier in May, 2019.

The team Dicks brought together won the North Division play-off final at Maldon and Tiptree but were denied promotion by the points-per-game rule dreamed up by the FA boffins as a solution to too many play-off winners for too few restructured leagues.

Dicks left Heybridge in the summer of 2019 to link up with his former West Ham team-mate Slaven Bilic, at West Bromwich Albion.

He returned to Swifts for a second spell in March 2021 but resigned in September that year, following five straight defeats.

Dicks added: "It's a project, starting as of now.

"It'll be great to get one or two of the old players back - if they want to come back, they must have my number and give me a bell and I'll speak to them!

"It is about players who want to play for the club.

"At the end of the day, it's not all about money; it's about playing for a club that you enjoy playing for and that looks after you as well and hopefully, we'll have a squad that resembles that."