Hainault Forest Website

Written, Designed and with Photographs by Brian Ecott

Social History

 John Dick of West Ham United

John Dick (middle row far right)  with Bobby Moore and Martin Peters standing behind,  pictured in 1961.

With thanks to West Ham United Football Club for permission to use the photograph.

 

John Dick was born the 19th March 1930 in the Govern district of Glasgow, a street away from the birthplace of Sir Alex Ferguson. He became an apprentice machine tool operator and was a keen footballer. He was spotted by a Scottish scout

and was picked for the Scottish Junior team. He did his National Service in the Army between 1950 and 1952 at Colchester, Essex, being enlisted into R.E.M.E. (The Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers) and was soon playing football for the Army and Braintree Football Club.

 

West Ham United Manager Ted Fenton discovered John whilst in the Army and he was signed up to play for the Hammers on completion of his Army service, and he played forward between 1953 and 1962. Some of the younger members of the team included Bobby Moore, Martin Peters, Geoff Hurst, Johnny Byrne, John Bond and Kenny Brown. He became the joint-third highest goal scorer for the team playing 351 games and scoring 166 goals. He was Captain of the team in about 1960 and was runner up for the Hammer of the year title 1961-2.

 

John became the first West Ham player to be picked for Scotland in an International match against England in 1959. He replaced Dennis Law who was injured. The England team included Bobby Charlton, and Billy Wright (gaining his 100th cap). John was number 10 and being a left footer, played inside left. England were to win the match 1-0.

 

At a supporters dance in 1954 he met Sue Culley and they were married in Barking Abbey Church in 1956 and they set up home in Hainault with their two daughters Jennifer and Gillian. The WHU team would often be seen training and running at Hainault Forest and also Grange Farm, Chigwell. As a family they loved the forest and would often go for picnics accompanied by their cross Border collie Angus. They loved to visit the ponies, llamas, sheep and goats and especially the Rabbitry in an old farm building which displayed many breeds of Rabbits which they could handle and see the young litters. The grandchildren now visit the Forest.

In 1962 John moved to Brentford at a transfer fee of 17,500 where he played until 1965. He then took up a job with the Inner London Education Authority ILEA, in Hackney where he taught Football, Hockey and Archery on Hackney Marshes and Oakfield Playing Fields, Fairlop. Archery was a popular sport among paraplegics who attended John's classes. John also trained the WHU colts between 1971-3 on a part-time basis, and was later to coach Santos F.C.

 

John took early retirement in 1992 due to ill health. His heart problem meant that it was necessary to maintain a walking schedule which he did, often walking round the lake in Hainault Forest where he made many friends especially among the Forest Rangers. One particular acquaintance was Sidney, a Hainault resident for the past 40 years who has fond memories of John. Sidney was born in Ballyragget, Kilkenny in 1927. The children of the village walked to school barefoot. Sidney's father worked at Fords of Dagenham and used to send him sandals but Sidney would hide them in his school bag as he didn't want to appear different to the other schoolchildren. He worked for a time for Lord Kildare looking after the foxhound kennels and stables. Since retiring Sidney has been making daily visits to the lake in the forest, in all weathers, to feed the ducks, geese and swans. The swans are his favourite and they take the food from his hand. Sidney being Irish and John a Scotsman they ribbed each other in friendly banter. Sidney would ask John what he did with all his money earned at football. Of course when John played football they were only paid a living wage and not a super inflated income that today's football stars receive.

 

John died in 2000 and Sue and family had a seat dedicated to his memory by the Hainault Lake. His ashes were scattered by the seat and a memorial oak tree planted which would provide shade for visitors.  Sadly this tree was pulled up and a replacement was cut down.

Sue, family and friends plant the memorial tree. Photo: Sue Dick 2001.

Sue Dick with grandson Harry and friend with the commemorative oak. Photo: Sue Dick 2003.

John and Sue's daughter Jennifer with her son Harry and friend.

Photo: Sue Dick 2003.

John's grandson Harry plays football and cricket in the forest. 

Photo: Sue Dick.

Sidney feeds the swans from John Dick's memorial seat. 9 Mar. 06.