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Family of former Romford FC manager David Bickles reunited with contract after 41 years

PUBLISHED: 11:00 21 December 2017

Gary Bickles holding his Dad Dave Bickles Romford FC contract and his England Youth International cap. Photo: Terry Felton

Gary Bickles holding his Dad Dave Bickles Romford FC contract and his England Youth International cap. Photo: Terry Felton

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The family of a former Romford footballer received an unexpected early Christmas present this week when they were presented with a pristine copy of his first managerial contract.

Robin Chandler, Dave Bickles, Alan Taylor and Graham Paddon with Dave's children Gary, Craig and Glen after his testimonial 1975. Craig holds the FA Cup. Photo: Terry FeltonRobin Chandler, Dave Bickles, Alan Taylor and Graham Paddon with Dave's children Gary, Craig and Glen after his testimonial 1975. Craig holds the FA Cup. Photo: Terry Felton

Former West Ham centre half Dave Bickles, who passed away in November 1999, joined the Hammers as a youth player and rose through the ranks at West Ham before spells at Crystal Palace and Colchester United.

In 1970 he signed for Romford FC. Five years later he was named club captain and, in January 1976, was offered the role of player/manager at the club.

For many years, the club’s former secretary, John Haley, held onto both copies of the contract, but now one has been donated to the Havering Local Studies Library, while the second has finally been reunited with Dave’s family.

The Bickles family were also given a copy of never-before-seen video footage of David captaining a Romford XI against an Arsenal Celebrity XI to commemorate the club’s reformation in 1992.

Romford FC club historian Terry Felton presented the contract and video to Dave’s son Gary on Sunday.

Gary said: “My Dad passed away in 1999, aged just 55, and to have this contract knowing he held it and signed it is quite emotional.

“And to now have film footage of him is going to make the family’s Christmas, because we will actually see him again after 18 years.

“My Mum is coming from Lincoln to stay with us and we plan to play the film on Christmas Day.

“Mum will be over the moon as will my brothers Glen and Craig.”

Despite his deep and happy association with the Boro, Dave also maintained strong links with the Hammers.

Gary revealed: “Until his last illness, Dad was still working with West Ham’s schoolboy and youth teams.

“When he was in Oldchurch Hospital, Frank Lampard and Harry Redknapp paid him a visit.

“As they walked through the ward, patients started getting out of their beds to go and say hello to them.

“One of the nurses joked: ‘It’s a miracle, some of these patients haven’t been able to get out of bed for weeks!’”

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