The Julian Dicks Column: 26th October

It's with great pleasure that we welcome West Ham United FC legend Julian Dicks to Julian shares his thoughts with the readers of Knees up Mother Brown on a regular basis via his weekly column, the latest of which begins with a preview of this weekend's big game...


Although it was a good day against Southampton in the end, to be perfectly honest West Ham were awful in the first half and Southampton were the better side - without creating any chances. They passed the ball around well but we didn't get after them; it looked like West Ham were at the bottom end of the division and Southampton who were half way up the table.

I got the impression Sam went in [at half time] and told them they had to put Southampton under pressure because that's what they did as soon as they came back out. Scoring twice in the first three or four minutes knocked them back a bit and it would have taken a special side to get back into the game. In the end West Ham were comfortable winners although I don't think they were worth a four-one win.

Defensively as a team, Southampton were very poor, even in the first half, but West Ham didn't put them under any pressure so they got away with it. As soon as we put them under pressure you could see them conceding goals as they were all over the place. The first goal went in without anyone touching it, and then a penalty - but the fourth and final goal from Modibo Maiga was exceptional.

Goals like Mark Noble's first - the free kick that went straight in - happen all the time. You can guarantee there's going to be one or two of those every season. Sam said after the game that they practise those, as we used to at West Ham and when I was manager at Grays. You have to have players moving across the goalkeeper to make him unsighted and as long as you hit the target it's got a chance of going in.

If the goalkeeper's unsighted when you've got two or three players running across him and it's very crowded in the box, he's going to take his eye off the ball as he's keeping an eye on them. You can't really blame the goalkeeper in those situations as the defenders should be clearing the ball as well.

Throw caution to the wind

With our current squad we have the beating of most teams - and perhaps every team at home. Obviously away games are a lot more difficult, but I would expect West Ham to beat Wigan - even though, for me, they're a better team than Southampton.

The way West Ham have started this season, I hope Sam has a go at them this weekend. I'd probably play the same team as he did the other day, with perhaps the addition of a second striker. With the confidence that the players are playing with I would consider sticking Modibo Maiga with Andy Carroll up front. Against Southampton, Maiga looked bright, he looked sharp and scored a fantastic goal - plus he's got a point to prove.

If you put him in and he scores - or has an outstanding game - then Sam's got a tough decision to make. Whether Sam would do that or not away from home I don't know, but Maiga's probably chomping at the bit waiting for a chance. Sam's not silly, he knows what he's doing but if you keep bringing him on and he's scoring goals one day he's got to give him a run in the team. He looks a good prospect.

Yossi and Eyal

I thought Yossi Benayoun did well against Southampton last weekend in his first home start since re-joining the club - and he had a better first half than second, even though he was involved in the second goal. Obviously he hasn't played a great deal so his match fitness isn't quite up to scratch but I thought he worked hard. They're going to miss Ricardo Vaz Te because of his pace and positivity, but Yossi is a more intelligent player so he'll be good for West Ham.

I played with Eyal Berkovic quite a bit and like his compatriot, Eyal was very intelligent. Again, like Yossi, he didn't possess much pace but when you gave him the ball he could create things, like little balls in between defenders; he was a good player.

I was training at Chadwell Heath the day Johnny Hartson kicked Eyal in the head - and it was all caught on TV, which obviously didn't help! On that particular occasion Harry Redknapp had to let it calm down before getting involved otherwise I think Johnny Hartson might have smacked Harry too! Harry spoke to them both individually afterwards but to his credit, Johnny did apologise as soon as we got back to the changing rooms.

Things like that happened quite often; I can remember Alvin Martin having bust-ups with Matthew Rush at training and Paul Ince in the tunnel at Luton. It goes on all the time. At the end of the day you've got a load of blokes playing football with each other day in, day out and people are going to argue and lose their temper. It just happens.

I also remember Allan McKnight and Paul Ince - who was a young lad at the time and very arrogant - having a fight. As long as they apologise at the end of it, usually it's forgotten - but it's fun when you're watching it!

Banged up and bang to rights

Earlier this week Leeds fan Aaron Cawley was jailed, rightly, for four months after attacking Sheffield Wednesday's Chris Kirkland. At the end of the day you can't condone things like that; he could have been carrying a knife, he could have had anything. He should never be able to watch another game of football. Fortunately it's a minority of football supporters who would do something like this.

I played at Leeds and Millwall and places like that and you got one or two who were stupid - but then the whole club gets tarnished with the same brush. Yeah, they're volatile supporters but they're also great supporters who get behind their clubs. I never had to deal with anything like that; if I had, I wouldn't have fallen over - I would have chased him into the crowd and walloped him back!

I think the majority of supporters condone things like that and would have outed him - it doesn't matter what club they're at. If it had been two supporters fighting maybe it'd have been a bit different, but not when you're talking about a player getting punched by a stupid fan.

Eric Cantona was banned once for having a go at a fan who had abused him, but I agreed with him. As a footballer you have to take all the abuse in the world from supporters but as soon as you tell them to "piss off" or whatever, some of them report you. So when Cantona did that I thought "good on him"!

Looking back: A record-breaking season

In 1995/96 I scored ten league goals for West Ham, which is still the record for a defender in the Premier League. It was also the year in which I played at centre half on a few occasions against the likes of Chelsea and QPR. I used to enjoy playing at centre back and scored at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea with a header that season; Gavin Peacock put them ahead and I equalised before Danny Williamson scored the winner.

Five of my 11 goals that season came from the penalty spot. When I first started taking penalties I always used to smash them, then I tried to place one or two and missed one. After that I told myself that I was never going to place another one and thereafter I'd hit them as hard as I could.

One of my most famous penalties came against Manchester United the following season. We were 2-0 down with about ten minutes to go and Florin Raducioiu came on and scored a great goal. Two minutes later we were awarded a penalty.

I was waiting to take it - because Man Utd were playing up - and Eric Cantona said to me, "Dicks, small goal". I replied "Eric, big heart" - and scored. That was a great night, to come back from two-nil down against Manchester United. You're expected to get beat as they had some fantastic players - your Cantonas, Keanes, Scholes, Beckhams and Schmeichels - but at Upton Park we always had the chance to beat anybody.

Back then Pony were our sponsors and the shirts used to have buttons on. If you ever chested the ball down it'd hurt, so I used to cut the buttons and the collars off. I was never a footballer to look posh, with nice cuffs and collars, so off they came! It was purely for comfort. Prior to that we had a Pony shirt with a round neck and I used to cut a 'V' into it - once again because it was more comfortable.

Julian at West Ham Retro Forum

Julian Dicks heads a trio of former stars who will be attending the West Ham Retro Forum & Fair in Romford on Sunday, 4th November.

Kevin Lock, an FA Cup winner with the Hammers in 1975, and 1976 European Cup goal hero Keith Robson complete the star line-up for the fifth annual show organised by EX magazine.

The event takes place at the usual venue – the R.U.S.S.C. (social club) in Mawney Road, Romford, just off St. Edwards Way ring road – from 12.00 noon until 4.00pm.

Tickets are priced £10 each (children under 16 free when accompanied by an adult) in advance or £12 on the door. If you wish to pre-order your ticket(s) for £10 and collect them on the day, phone EX on 01708 744 333 to make this £2 saving. Or order online at

After you’ve met the ex-players, had your picture taken with them and got their autographs, enjoy the Hammers Heaven that awaits in our acclaimed collectors’ fair, including: signed memorabilia, books, programmes, photos, trade cards, DVDs, badges, etc.

Signed copies of the new book, Tony Cottee – West Ham: The Inside Story (£14.99), will also be on sale for the first time.

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