FRED Dicker has stepped down as chairman of the Essex Leopards after 10 years in the job.

Dicker helped the Big Cats recover from dropping out of the British Basketball League to become one of the strongest sides in Division One of the English Basketball League.

He will replaced in the role by Tony Shorey.

And the club’s general manager Dave Ryan insists Dicker’s work will never be forgotten.

“Having worked with Fred throughout the last decade I probably appreciate more than anyone else just what he’s done,” said Ryan.

“It’s been immense and it isn’t an exaggeration to say we wouldn’t still be here if it wasn’t for Fred.

“He’ll always be part of the Leopards family and I hope we’ll see him back here regularly next season.

“It’s the start of a new era for the club but the work Fred’s done won’t ever be forgotten.

Leopards have again made the final four of the play-offs and will be looking to win more silverware in the competition finals which will be held in Manchester this weekend.

And, after that, Dicker will depart with some great memories from his time with the Leopards.

“I believe we should be very proud of our wonderful club,” said Dicker.

“We have coached thousands of children through our community programmes and hopefully given enjoyment to many people watching us play.

“We have always had a competitive team and have picked up a collection of trophies along the way.

“Indeed we are league runners up this year and have high hopes to win the play-offs.

“I would like to give thanks to everyone involved in the Leopards organisation over the last 10 years. I have met some wonderful people in the basketball world and have made so many friends so many great memories.

“I wish Tony and the new management team all the very best for the future,” he added.