FA Cup Fifth Round memories

By Carl MarstonMICKY Cook was a raw teenager, just starting out on his footballing career, when Colchester United triumphed in the fifth round of the FA Cup.

Colchester soccer, special edition story

By Carl Marston

MICKY Cook was a raw teenager, just starting out on his footballing career, when Colchester United triumphed in the fifth round of the FA Cup.

Thirty-three years after the U's achieved one of the greatest upsets in FA Cup history, by beating mighty Leeds United 3-2 at Layer Road, the Essex club are back in the last 16 of the competition.


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Phil Parkinson's men take on Division One promotion hopefuls Sheffield United in tomorrow's mouth-watering FA Cup fifth round tie at Bramall Lane.

Cook, who is Colchester's leading appearance-maker of all-time (614 league games in 16 years), still works at Layer Road in his capacity as U's Director of Youth Football.

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The 52-year-old travelled with his under-19 team to Cardiff today, for a Merit Division fixture,

But back on February 13, 1971, Cook was a 19-year-old full-back sitting on the substitutes' bench as Dick Graham's men toppled Leeds, thanks to a brace from Ray Crawford and one from Dave Simmons, in front of a Layer Road crowd of 16,000.

"I had flowing locks in those days," recalled Cook, who had featured prominently in the U's run up to the Leeds game.

"It was my first full season. I had been playing regularly in the league, and had played in all the previous rounds of the Cup, until the fourth round replay against Rochdale.

"The manager went for experience in that game. We beat Rochdale 5-0, and I was on the bench again for the visit of Leeds.

"It was a tremendous day, and a memorable one. Every nook and cranny was filled, and fans were even sitting in the trees. Health and safety would have had a field day!

"I was only young, so emotions were running high. On the one hand, I was secretly hoping that someone would get injured, so that I could get on the pitch.

"But on the other hand, I feared that I might make a mistake if I did get on as a substitute. I was torn between these two emotions.

"In the end, I didn't get on, but I was carried along by the emotion of the occasion," added Cook.

Even though Cook didn't make the final starting line-up against Leeds, he went on to enjoy several big outings in Cup competitions during his time as a player at Layer Road (1969-84).

He recalled: "I had to mark Mick Channon during our League Cup matches against Southampton (1974). We drew at home and then beat them away. I reckon that I marked him out of the game in the replay, because we won 1-0.

"Then there was an FA Cup tie against Derby County (1977), when I had to mark Leighton James. We drew at home but lost the replay.

"I was up against Chris Waddle when we played Newcastle United (FA Cup third round in 1982). I got twisted this way and that by Chris, who ended up running the length of the pitch to score early on in the replay.

"Yet I got my own back, by scoring myself, although we lost that match 4-3.

"I was captain of the side when Colchester last reached the fourth round, in 1979. It was against Manchester United and I was convinced that we were going to earn a replay, which would have meant a trip to Old Trafford.

"We were holding them at Layer Road until Jimmy Greenhoff scored with just a few minutes remaining. It's a shame that we didn't get to go to Old Trafford, with me as a player and captain," added Cook.

Back to the present day, and Cook sees no reason why his beloved U's cannot pull off a shock at Sheffield United.

Parkinson's men have already beaten Oxford United, Aldershot Town, Accrington Stanley and Coventry City on their way into the fifth round.

The U's were disappointed not to be drawn against one of the big guns in the last 16, especially as the likes of Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool are all still in the competition.

Yet United beat Coventry 3-1 after a fourth round replay, so another Division One outfit shouldn't be too daunting, even though the Blades were 10 places above the Sky Blues in the table before this weekend's round of matches.

"It will be another good pay-day, which is very important for the club," said Cook.

"There should be a crowd of about 20,000, and in cup football anything can happen.

"I'm sure there will be a big improvement after the disappointment of Tuesday night's 3-2 defeat by Southend," added Cook, with reference to the first leg of the LDV Vans Trophy southern area final.

Cook will be trying to inspire the Colchester United stars of the future, when he watches his under-19s in action at Cardiff today – his team recently lifted the south-east conference for the second time in three years.

But tomorrow he will be hoping that the present day stars can emulate those of 33 years ago, by winning a fifth round tie to reach the last eight of the FA Cup.

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