Dicks Defiant

Julian Dicks says he is not worried about the consequences that returning to competitive football may have on his future health.

Julian hopes to make his first 90 minute appearance of the comeback trail tonight (Tuesday), when he is due to face Sutton United with Ryman League outfit Canvey Island, and he admits he is effectively defying doctor's orders in doing so.

"If you keep worrying about things and it plays on your mind there is no point in life," says Julian, who made his Canvey debut against Braintree Town at the weekend.

"It kept going over in my mind what my surgeon said to me, which was that I will one day need a knee replacement, whether it is in five or 10 years, or whatever.

"But I thought I might as well keep going until the knee gives up completely; it swelled up on Sunday but started going down on Monday.

"The surgeon said to me after my second major operation 'you are going to end up with a limp if you carry on', but all I have known is football.

"I hadn't played competitive football for two years and I really enjoyed it at the weekend.

"I thought the knee would be a lot worse after playing 80 minutes as we had agreed."

Explaining why he joined Canvey Island, he says: "I have had time off to chill out from football and in the last six months it has been going over my mind about whether I should play or not and I kept coming back to the same decision, which was 'yes.'

"I have known Jeff King, the manager, for a few years and he asked me to come along and see how it goes.

"I miss it a lot and that is the reason I went back to playing again."

Of his debut on Saturday, he says: "I kicked a couple of people - not properly, but I got stuck in.

"There will be people out there who want to kick you for who you are but I've had that for 16 years so it doesn't bother me.

"They normally have 500 supporters there but there was 1200 there on Saturday, including a few West Ham fans which was nice.

"And Canvey are top of the Ryman League so everyone wants to beat them.

"Football has always been in my blood and there is nothing like playing; just going out in front of those 1200 people still gave me a buzz.

"I am interested in management but for the moment I will keep plugging away on the field."

He says the fact that the standard was much lower than he has been used to in his illustrious career did not bother him and he adds: "I still go out and give 150% and it is just the same whether you are earning 50 grand or £200 a week - you just want to win."

And he insists the comeback does not affect the deal which saw him retire early at Upton Park while still a Hammers player.

"If it was pro football I would have to pay some insurance back," he explains.

As for the proposed players' strike, he says: "I think it is right; a lot of people are getting the wrong idea about it.

"It is not about people earning £80,000 a week and wanting more.

"The worry is about players in the lower divisions who don't earn a lot of money and if they end their career through injury and can't afford to have an operation the PFA helps them, which is right, and that is why the majority of players are going on strike.

"But I hope it doesn't come to that because it is only the supporters who will suffer; the players want to play and the supporters want to watch, but if it has got to be done it has got to be done."

As for the much publicised golf career, he says: "I am not knocking the golf on the head but putting it on the back burner; maybe until the end of the season, or maybe for a year.

"But I will go back to it when my days of football are finally over."

Julian recently made his first return to Upton Park since quitting - and he says he is delighted that his visit coincided with a change in the club's fortunes!

He observed the 2-0 win over Southampton which started a sequence of three wins in a week and says: "You have got to be happy with getting nine points in four games.

"If they get another couple of wins they will be in the top half and I think they will do well once they settle down and get their confidence back."