Familiar face of Cooke will be missing
ONE familiar face who will be missing from Hucknall Town's big kick-off is stalwart Russell Cooke, who has admitted he will miss the good times he spent at Watnall Road.
Cooke has decided to sever his links with Town after nine years, aside from a spell away from the club for the 2003/04 season.
A versatile player, who started in 1999 as a striker but ended up as a centre-back, he played in no fewer than five different positions last term as The Yellows battled against the Blue Square North drop.
But the 27-year-old now believes the time is right for a new challenge and has signed for local rivals Eastwood Town in the Unibond League, Premier Division.
Said the ex-Notts County man: "I am certainly going to miss the place because I had been there a long time.
"There are some brilliant people at Hucknall and the fans are excellent. I will try to get back there when I can and I will be playing there again next season – with Eastwood against Worksop Town.
"But I think I became stuck in a rut. I needed a fresh challenge after many years at the club.
"I made the decision before the end of the season that I would move on. I had a chance in recent weeks to come back because Mick Galloway made me two very good offers and made it clear that he wanted me to stay.
"But my mind was made up and I am now looking forward to the new season at Eastwood.
"I know the management team of Paul Cox and John Ramshaw very well. It was John who brought me to Hucknall in the first place.
"Paul and John have made some good signings and the club do seem to be on the up. They have also signed another Hucknall player, Alistair Asher, whom I have been friends with since childhood, so that is a bonus."
Cooke revealed he had a lot of time for former Yellows bosses David Lloyd and John Knapper and said he was disappointed with some of the treatment they received.
"I think they took a lot of stick from some of the fans and officials at the club," he said.
"It was unfair. They were working hard and it wasn't easy for them. Perhaps they needed a bit more support.
"Some people at the club also said some unkind things to the team towards the end of the season when our commitment was questioned.
"But that was to be expected because of the position we were in. Things will get said in football. That's the nature of the game.
"I certainly bear no grudges towards anyone at the club."