Winner of both the Scottish Cup and the FA Cup, Billy Cook was noted as one of the most gifted full-backs of the 1930s, and developed into a world renowned coach...
Name: William Cook
Born: 20 January 1909, Coleraine
Died: 11 December 1992, Liverpool (England)
Height: 5.07½ ft
Weight: 11.04 st
Representative Honours: Ireland: 15 Full Caps (1932-1939); Football League: 1 Cap.
Club Honours: (with Celtic) Scottish Cup Winner 1930/31; (with Everton) Football League Champion 1938/39; FA Cup Winner 1932/33; Empire Exhibition Tournament Runner-Up 1937/38.
Teams....... --Seasons-- Signed -Fee- League FACup Other
Port Glasgow Athletic..... 1928 (Scottish Junior)
Celtic...... 29/30-32/33 Feb-30 ..... 100/ 0 10/ 0
Everton..... 32/33-39/40 Dec-32 ..... 228/ 5 22/ 1 .3/ 0
Aldershot... 39/40............. Guest ....... 6/ 0
Chester..... 39/40 ............ Guest ....... 1/ 0
Raith Rovers 42/43 ..... May-43 Guest
Wrexham..... 44/45 ............ Guest
Southport... 44/45 ............ Guest ....... 5/ 0
Wrexham..... 45/46............. (Regional League West)
Ellesmere Port Town
Rhyl........ 46/47 player-manager (Cheshire County League)
Plucked from the Junior leagues by Celtic in February 1930, Billy Cook was pitched into the first team within a week of his arrival at Parkhead. It proved an ideal game to ease himself into the top-class game, Celtic running out 4-0 winners over Ayr United. It was soon clear that Celtic had a top-class defender on their hands, and his first full season in the Celtic team saw him claim a Scottish Cup winner’s medal, and a place in Celtic’s end-of-season US tour.
In September 1932 Cook was awarded his first Ireland cap, in a game which also saw the debut of Old Firm rival Sam English. The Irish suffered a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Scotland at Windsor Park. Unlike English, whose career was already on a downward spiral following his tragic collision with John Thomson, Cook would retain his place in the international team right up to the outbreak of World War Two. He would also be given the honour of captaining his country.
Mid-way through the 1932/33 season Cook made a shock departure from Parkhead, signing for reigning English champions, Everton for £3,000. In his own words, it was a moved designed “to better my position”; it was also perhaps the first time an established player had left Celtic mid-season. Success was immediate, with the FA Cup arriving at Goodison Park in Cook’s first season as Manchester City were defeated 3-0 at Wembley. In June 1938 he faced Celtic in the Empire Exhibition Trophy final at Ibrox - Everton lost 1-0. In 1939 Everton claimed the League championship with Cook a regular, but as with Everton’s title success of 1915 it proved to be the last League season completed before the competition was suspended due to World War.
Usually to be found at right-back, Cook also slotted in on the left if required, and was famed for warning wingers: “Get the ball away!” before catching them with a firm challenge and chastising them: “You didn’t get the ball away!” There was more to Cook though than the typical defensive hardman of the day. 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."
During the Second World War years, 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.
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.
Ireland Cap Details:
17-09-1932 Scotland H L 0-4 BC
17-10-1932 England. A L 0-1 BC
07-12-1932 Wales... A L 1-4 BC
06-02-1935 England. A L 1-2 BC
13-11-1935 Scotland A L 1-2 BC
11-03-1936 Wales... H W 3-2 BC
31-10-1936 Scotland H L 1-3 BC
18-11-1936 England. A L 1-3 BC
17-03-1937 Wales... A L 1-4 BC
23-10-1937 England. H L 1-5 BC
10-11-1937 Scotland A D 1-1 BC
16-03-1938 Wales... H W 1-0 BC
08-10-1938 Scotland H L 0-2 BC
16-11-1938 England. A L 0-7 BC
15-03-1939 Wales... A L 1-3 BC
Summary: 15/0. Won 2, Drew 1, Lost 12.