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PersonalFullname: William Cook
aka: Willie Cook, Billy Cook
Born: 20 January 1909
Died: 11 December 1992, Liverpool (England)
Birthplace: Coleraine, N Ireland
Height: 5.07½ ft
Weight: 11.04 st
Position: Full-Back, Defender
Debut: Celtic 4-0 Ayr Utd, League, 20 Feb 1930
Internationals: N Ireland
International Caps: 15 Caps
International Goals: 0
BiogColeraine-born Willie Cook was a hard tackling full-back who signed for Celtic in February 1930 from Port Glasgow Juniors.
Strong, fit and with an excellent touch, Cook made an instant impact at Parkhead following his debut in a 4-0 league victory at home to Ayr United on February 20th. The talented defender quickly made the right-back berth his own and he soon became a key performer for the Bhoys and was an integral part of the 1931 Scottish Cup winning side.
Cook, who played in the Celtic team on the day of Johnny Thomson’s fatal accident at Ibrox, was called up to the Northern Ireland team in September 1932. However, just when it seemed Celtic had at last found a long term successor to Willie McStay the club agreed to sell Cook to Everton in December 1932. In his own words, it was a moved designed “to better my position”; it was also said to be the first time an established player had left Celtic mid-season. The move was described to be a major shock to the Celtic support who were not used to seeing their best players being sold (although looking back a bit more in our history, that's not necessarily fully true).
Wasn't the last we were to see of him. In June 1938 he faced Celtic in the Empire Exhibition Trophy final at Ibrox, Celtic triumphing 1-0.
A favoured player at Everton where he made 250 appearances, Stan Bentham, an Everton team-mate of Cook’s, said of him: "Willie Cook, right full-back, Irish international, with the ball control of any inside-forward. A hard player he could pass the ball facing his own goal, find our outside-right, which he often did."
Throughout his coaching career Cook took great pleasure in demonstrating his ball skills to his players. With a young footballer who couldn’t trap the ball properly watching, Cook is reported to have booted the ball high into the air, and as it dropped he killed it stone dead on the ground just to show the young lad how it was done. Another favourite trick was to drop a half-crown onto his toe and flick it into the top pocket of his suit. He would also regale his players with stories of his tussles with Stanley Matthews and the like.
Willie Cook – who had made 110 appearances for the Bhoys – was a great success at Everton and added a well deserved FA Cup winners medal to his Scottish Cup gong.
During the Second World War, Cook guested for a number of clubs across the British Isles, including Wrexham. With the resumption of competitive football with a “transition season” in 1945/46, Cook signed with the Welsh club permanently. Age was obviously catching up with him by this stage, and with league football returning in 1946 he found his only options were in non-league football. In October 1946 he took the position of player-manager at Rhyl, thus beginning a coaching career which would take him across the globe.
In 1947 Cook became coach at SK Brann Bergen in Norway, returning to briefly coach Sunderland in February 1948. He returned to Bergen from 1949-51, from 1952-1953 he was national coach of Peru, before returning home as manager of Portadown (1954-55) and as Youth team manager of Northern Ireland. He was off on his travels again, when he spent a year as manager of Iraq’s national side before he was appointed manager at Wigan Athletic in 1956, then at Crewe in 1957, and as trainer-coach at Norwich in 1958. A man well travelled!
There are few former Celtic players who have had as varied an adventure in their football lives as Willie Cook, and he will be one for anybody keenly interested in footballing history.
| APPEARANCES |
|LEAGUE||SCOTTISH CUP||LEAGUE CUP||EUROPE||TOTAL|
Honours with Celtic
Scottish Cup Winner
Latest page update: made by BigNan
, Jun 3 2013, 12:07 PM EDT
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