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Rochdale 0 v 0 Boston United
FA Cup
Sunday, 1st December 2019 Kick-off 14:00
Played For Both: Dale v Boston United
Played For Both: Dale v Boston United
Thursday, 28th Nov 2019 09:00 by Chaff

This weeks’ Played For Both is one that is tinged with sadness as we take a look back at the late Ernie Cooksey.

A player who always looked far older than he was, who would run through walls for you like no other and believe me, he could play a bit as well and went on to have a hugely positive spell at Rochdale. A battling midfielder, who would have his biggest battle outside of football. A battle he wouldn’t be able to win this time, one that so cruelly took Ernie from this world aged just 28 years old.

Ernie began his football career as a YTS at Colchester United but left without playing for The U’s and went into non-league with Heybridge Swifts and his hometown of Bishop’s Stortford before joining Chesham United in 2000. Wikipedia has him down as making 25 appearances and scoring 4 goals before joining Bromley. From Bromley he joined Crawley Town who were in the Southern Football League Premier Division at the time. Obviously, they’ve become and well-established football league club in recent years.

In 2003, Cooksey chanced his arm at becoming a professional footballer and went on trial with Oldham Athletic. Latics were managed by Iain Dowie at the time and Iain Dowie’s brother Bob had managed Chesham while Ernie was there, and he’d recommended the midfielder to his brother and Oldham signed Ernie. There has been a couple of players previous who rocked up at Boundary Park from Chesham thanks to Bob Dowie, the others being Fitz Hall and Wayne Andrews, both of which went on to play Premier League football having followed Iain Dowie.

Cooksey went on to play 37 games for Oldham, scoring 4 goals and became something of a cult hero at Boundary Park before falling out of favour with the new manager Brian Talbot. He was released in September 2004 and despite having agreed terms with Carlisle United, joined us at Spotland instead.

It wasn’t long before his hard-working and direct style of play saw him become a fan favourite at Rochdale as well. His shirts were always far too big for him, his sleeves were rolled up and he would run for the full 90. He also chipped in with goals from midfield and he scored 5 goals in 40 appearances during his first season at Dale, including one against our FA Cup opponents Boston, who would become Ernie’s next club.

His tenacity and determination meant he was always likely to end up in the referee’s book and he was sent off twice in his first season at Spotland although his first red card, away at Notts County was overturned.

Cooksey’s second season at Dale saw him score 3 in 37 games and he stayed at Rochdale until January of 2007 before he joined Boston United on a free transfer. He had made 87 appearances for Dale and bagged 8 goals for the club.
Financial woes at Boston meant that they were had a heavily reduced squad at the end of that season and had just 12 professionals on their books and wages weren’t being paid either. Boston were relegated on the last day of the season and as a result Cooksey found himself on the released list having only joined them in January and making just 16 appearances.

Cooksey went back home to the South East and joined Grays Athletic in the summer of 2007 and made 19 appearances before receiving some devastating news.

Ernie was given the news that he had been diagnosed with skin cancer. Malignant melanoma was the diagnosis and despite having beaten it before, while he was at Rochdale when he had a cancerous mole on his back removed, it had returned and in its most severe form.

The cancer spread very quickly and became a Stage Four (metastatic melanoma) which they couldn’t treat.

Funds were raised by both Oldham and Rochdale and a charity match took place at Boundary Park in order to try and raise money to send Ernie for treatment in America.

A truly heart-breaking story came to an end on July 3rd 2008, just a few weeks before his partner Louise was due to give birth to their first child. Louise gave birth to daughter Isabella on 27th July.

Cooksey was a heart on his sleeve type of player who would run through walls for his side, loved by supporters, down to earth bloke who had come from a very working-class background and his untimely passing was heart-breaking.

Rochdale and Oldham have renamed the Rose-Bowl Trophy to the Ernie Cooksey Trophy, an annual pre-season game that both clubs play for. The first ever Ernie Cooksey Trophy match was played this summer and was won by Rochdale at Boundary Park. A 3-2 win for the visitors that day saw goals from Done, Keohane and Henderson and Captain Ian Henderson lifted the trophy, something Dale fans are not used to seeing!

RIP Ernie Cooksey

Photo: Action Images

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