JULIAN Dicks has been appointed as the new manager of Heybridge Swifts, writes DANNY RUST.

Dicks has replaced Jody Brown in the Aspen Waite Arena dugout following his resignation last week.

Swifts received close to 30 applications for the role, but Swifts chairman Gary White admitted Dicks being a first-team coach at West Ham United and a regular at Heybridge matches made him the number one candidate.

White said: “The calibre of applicants was very high and I feel this reflected the esteem in which the club is now held after the achievements under Jody Brown.

“Julian’s two-year period as coach at such a high level was a major factor in his appointment and the fact that he has extensively watched Swifts as a fan over the past five years has given him a great affinity to the club and its fans.

“Julian’s roots are firmly in non-league football and his father Ron was a non-league player in the west country, having also managed Frome Town in that area, who Swifts beat in the FA Cup last season.

“Julian is also committed to the junior football side at Swifts and has been a regular visitor to Sunday matches there, as well as taking on some coaching sessions for the boys.

“He is keen to continue and increase this work to ensure that the thriving junior section at the club continues to develop and improve, and potentially provides a pathway to senior football for the best young players there.

“So much of the success of last season came from the unity created at the club with many new fans coming from the junior section and cheering on the first team every Saturday, both home and away.

“I see that increasing further in the season ahead with Julian’s appointment.”

Having begun his playing career with Birmingham City, the Bristol-born left-back went onto become a legend at West Ham United.

Across two spells with the Hammers, Dicks made close to 300 appearances.

Dicks, who also represented the England under-21s and England B at international level, also featured for Liverpool before hanging up his boots at Canvey Island.

Managerial spells at the likes of Wivenhoe Town and Grays Athletic have followed, while Dicks also spent a season in charge of West Ham United Ladies before being recruited as first-team coach when Slaven Bilic was named manager of the Premier League club.

Along with Bilic, Dicks left his position in November 2017.

Former Colchester United midfielder Karl Duguid will remain as assistant manager, while Adam Drew has taken up the role of football operations manager.

White added: “Adam has great connections within the local non-league and professional game and has been instrumental in us being able to secure the services of many new players in his relatively short time with the club to date.

“We believe we have a potentially very strong team off the pitch to help ensure we continue to improve on the pitch and start getting the results again that we know we can achieve.”

Dicks’ first match in charge will come on Saturday as Swifts make the trip to Mildenhall Town.