Tributes paid after ex-U's player dies

FORMER Colchester United trainee, Ernie Cooksey, has died at the age of 28 after a battle against cancer.

Carl Marston

Colchester soccer obituary

Ernie Cooksey 1980-2008

FORMER Colchester United trainee, Ernie Cooksey, has died at the age of 28 after a battle against cancer.

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Ernie was a member of Micky Cook's youth team set-up at Layer Road and, although he was later released by the U's, he went on to fulfil his dream of becoming a professional footballer.

After a spell of working in the building trade, while playing non-league, Cooksey was handed his big chance by Oldham Athletic boss Iain Dowie during the summer of 2003.

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And he became a big hit with the Boundary Park faithful with a succession of whole-hearted performances in midfield and at left-back.

He went on the make 41 appearances for the Latics, before signing for near neighbours Rochdale in September, 2004.

Ernie made a similar impression at Spotland, playing 100 first-team games for the Dale in central midfield. He finally lost his place during the first half of the 2007-08 campaign, under new manager Keith Hill, and so moved to Boston United on a free transfer at the beginning of last year.

He made 19 appearances for Grays Athletic in the Blue Square Premier last term, before ill health took its toll.

Ernie had already battled with cancer once before, and football supporters were quick to raise money for him during this second battle, in a bid to fund treatment in America.

Grays held a charity game on his behalf, as did Oldham - a crowd of nearly 2,000 watched this match between two teams of his friends at Boundary Park, with Ernie kicking off the game and later returning to convert a penalty.

But he sadly died in hospital on Wednesday night, surrounded by his family, including his pregnant girlfriend Louise, who is expecting their first child in just five weeks time.

Former U's youth team manager Micky Cook said: "I speak for Adrian Webster and I when I say that there weren't many more enthusiastic lads when it came to playing football.

"His love of football clearly shone through, so to have his life cut short is a real tragedy and a loss to us all.

"I was very proud, when having been released by the club, he came back with Oldham and played left-back, and played very well in fact.

"He was a whole-hearted player and proved to us all that if you have got commitment and enthusiasm, it doesn't stop and start at one club. He will be sadly missed."

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