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Cooke, Charlie (1966-1972,1974-1978)


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Charlie Cooke (1966-1972,1974-1978)

Written by Lofty in June 2007

cooke_charlie_1966.jpg Charlie Cooke was born on Wednesday, 14th October 1942 St Monans, Fife, Scotland. He signed professional terms with Aberdeen in 1960, before moving to Dundee in December 1964, for their then record fee of £40,000. To this day he is still remembered at Dundee, who's Dens Park ground features a "Charlie Cooke lounge".

Only 16 months later, in April 1966, Chelsea broke their transfer record, when Tommy Docherty paid £72,000 to take Charlie to Stamford Bridge as a replacement for Terry Venables.

Charlie's first game for Chelsea was the 2-0 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup win over Barcelona in May 1966. He made his First Division debut the following season against West Ham, skipping past Bobby Moore to score.

However, Charlie was never a prolific goal scorer, scoring only 30 goals in 373 games, but a truly great player nonetheless and a favourite with the Chelsea fans, providing great service to strikers like Peter Osgood and Tommy Baldwin.

charlie_cooke_69.jpg Charlie would swagger around the pitch just as he and team-mates Peter Osgood and Alan Hudson would stroll down the Kings Road after games.

Charlie's skills won him nicknames such as the Magician, the Maestro and the Wizard In the 1967 FA Cup Semi Final, it was from a Charlie Cooke cross that Tony Hateley scored Chelsea's winner against Leeds, and in the FA Cup Final replay at Old Trafford, with only minutes left on the clock, it was Charlie's run and chipped pass that set up Ossie's equaliser with a diving header.

Charlie also played a significant part in Chelsea's 1971 European Cup Winners Cup win, and in the 1972 League Cup Final defeat against Stoke City, it was again Charlie Cooke who created the equaliser for Peter Osgood.

charlie_cooke_75.jpg Charlie Cooke played only 16 times for Scotland, spread over a decade, from his debut in the 4-1 victory over Wales in 1965, to his final international appearance in 1975 against Portugal. That he won so few Scottish caps can only partially be explained by the 5-year ban imposed by Scotland following a late-night drinking incident:

"I was dumped out in the cold, supposedly for drinking," he says. "Bullsh*t. Everyone was drinking. The boys at the Old Firm got away with murder. We just accepted that."

Charlie has now been teetotal for over 25 years, waking up one morning and deciding that enough was enough.

Charlie moved to Crystal Palace in 1972 but never settled there, and returned to Chelsea in 1974. Back at the Bridge, Charlie said:

"I hadn't had a full game for 3 weeks and thought I might run out of puff, but in the end I wanted to go on for another 45 minutes. The Chelsea crowd were special. They've always loved me. At Stamford Bridge they'd clap me just for standing up in a strong wind. That makes you want to do the business for them in return."

charlie_cooke_74-2.jpg Charlie's return to Stamford Bridge coincided with the beginning of a long, barren period for Chelsea football club, despite Charlie's contribution, in 1974-1975 Chelsea were relegated to the old Division Two. That season Charlie Cooke was given the player of the award in recognition that the team's failure could not be laid at his door. This was Charlie's second such award, the other being in 1968.

Cookie's experience proved invaluable in assisting the then Chelsea manager Eddie McCreadie's young side to achieve promotion to the First Division in 1976-77, Charlie's penultimate season at Stamford Bridge.

coach1.jpg Charlie moved to the US in July 1978, playing for various NASL clubs including Memphis Rogues, LA Aztecs and California Surf. In 1980, he took over from Eddie McCreadie as head coach of Memphis Rogues. When the Rogues moved to Calgary, Charlie played one final season for California Surf, and now runs a 'soccer' skills school in the US.

As Scotland team-mate Jim Baxter once famously remarked:

"That Cookie. When he sold you a dummy you had to pay to get back into the ground."

Charlie Cooke - Chelsea's very own Bonnie Prince

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  • 2 years later...


My old man played against Charlie Cooke, when Cooke briefly played for Renfrew Juniors ( A Scottish non league team) as a 17 year old. My old man simply says he was the best player he'd ever played against by miles.

And don't get him started 'on the mere 16 caps' The Bonnie Prince won for Scotland.

Charlie Cooke is 3 years younger than my old man and they're from the same area.

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Brilliant player, I first saw him when I was a kid and he was playing against Leeds in the late 60's he had the ball at his feet with two Leeds players in front of him, he ran off taking the two Leeds players with him and left the ball behind for one of his team mates to cross...it was sheer brillance as he mezmorized the Leeds defenders all day. Even Bremner couldn't hack him down....

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  • 4 months later...

Charley cooke was so well balanced as he used to pick up a ball , head down and go on one of his exciting runs jigging thru and making top oppo players look silly. He could and did have the ability to take on several players and end with a good cross that ossie or hutch could generally put away....I feel sorry for any ounger Blues that never saw his skills...

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Charley cooke was so well balanced as he used to pick up a ball , head down and go on one of his exciting runs jigging thru and making top oppo players look silly. He could and did have the ability to take on several players and end with a good cross that ossie or hutch could generally put away....I feel sorry for any ounger Blues that never saw his skills...

he is the reason that i first supported chelsea.when chelsea first played 'sexy' football,(whatever that means)in the late sixties and early seventies.

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My old man rates 'The Bonnie Prince' as the finest right winger Scotland has ever produced.

Brilliant though Charlie was, I think Jimmy Johnstone may hold that accolade. Willie Henderson and Tommy McLean were also up there, Scotland have had some great wingers over the years. Charlie Cooke was second only to George Best in England, and was always one of my favourite players.

In his autobiography, Charlie actually states that he considered himself more of a central midfielder than a winger!

Edited by BlueBeard
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Brilliant though Charlie was, I think Jimmy Johnstone may hold that accolade. Willie Henderson and Tommy McLean were also up there, Scotland have had some great wingers over the years. Charlie Cooke was second only to George Best in England, and was always one of my favourite players.

In his autobiography, Charlie actually states that he considered himself more of a central midfielder than a winger!

I'll read his book gain when I find it. Fair points, but you won't change my old mans mind though

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I'll read his book gain when I find it. Fair points, but you won't change my old mans mind though

I wouldn't want to change his mind! Charlie Cooke was a truly brilliant player, but the reason he got so few Scottish caps was the amount of competition for his position. He was a hero to so many of us Chelsea fans, and always stopped to give autographs and have a wee chat after training, and he's still coaching football in the States - legend!

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I wouldn't want to change his mind! Charlie Cooke was a truly brilliant player, but the reason he got so few Scottish caps was the amount of competition for his position. He was a hero to so many of us Chelsea fans, and always stopped to give autographs and have a wee chat after training, and he's still coaching football in the States - legend!

Yet his name is probably unknown to many Scottish football fans. Sadly !

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  • 3 weeks later...


Excellent post - can't imagine the great Bonnie Prince playing on that park!

He did, trust me that ground was (is still ) next to A8.

I pass that ground twice a day on way to/from work.

The A8 was the main Glasgow to Greenock Road until mid -late 1970s when M8 Motorway was completed.

Edited by erskblue
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www.footballfairground.com/random

Cooke, Charlie

charlie-cooke-and-beckenbauer.jpgClassic winger of the great Chelsea side of the late-60’s and the relegation-bound Chelsea side of the mid-1970’s. Scorer of 59 goals in 512 appearances throughout a British football career that started at Aberdeen in 1960 and took in Dundee and Crystal Palace before the lure of the NASL took hold. Made a name for himself at LA Aztecs (see right with Franz Beckenbauer) and latterly Memphis Rogues where he played under manager and former Chelsea team-mate Eddie McCreadie. A great passer of the ball and capable of brilliantly accurate passes like the one that opened the scoring in this match against Arsenal in 1969.

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  • 3 weeks later...

When Charlie ran with the ball it was like the ball was attached to a 30 cm long rope from his foot. Tons of flair, ball control and a charismatic person.

Genius with a football for Chelsea and Scotland .

Yet many Scottish football fans would have no idea who he is.

Edited by erskblue
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