Pickering Town’s new manager Mitch Cook aims to bring a fresh verve to the task of reviving the Pikes as he tells TONY KELLY.
GET ready Pickering Town – one of football’s most diligent evangelists is now in charge.
Mitch Cook is just marking his first week in charge of the Recreation Ground club at which he aims to make an impressive impact.
The former Scarborough, Middlesbrough, Darlington, Halifax and Blackpool player is no stranger to the Northern Counties East League premier division outfit.
The Scarborough Town team he used to coach had their under-19s side based at Pickering’s ground and a good number of last season’s Pikes’ playing roster graduated from the resort teams he ran based at the George Pindar Community College in Eastfield on the outskirts of Scarborough.
Now though he is the number one in succession to Mark Wood, whose 14 years with the Pikes – the last three and a half as manager – came to an end when he resigned just a handful of games into the new campaign.
New man Cook is relishing the task not only of sustaining Pickering’s customary top-half status in the NCEL top-flight, but improving on that and making a determined push for promotion to the next step up, the Evo-Stik League.
Coincidentally, Cook spent the summer preparing his own Scarborough Town team for their elevation to a new arena, with the NCEL a potential destination after notable success in the Teesside League and Wearside League.
Wrangles over deadlines and facilities scuppered the proposed application, which he described “as a massive disappointment”.
But as one door slammed shut, the welcome entrance to the Pikes inched open and Cook took up the post as the new manager with delight, relishing a daunting opening fixture, which pitted Pickering’s best away to reigning champions Bridlington Town.
Thanks to a brace of Liam Salt strikes the visitors were holding Brid to a 2-2 draw until the hosts squeezed their way to a maximum haul with two unanswered goals in the last 11 minutes.
Said Cook: “It’s a great opportunity for me because Pickering Town is such a well-established club. I am very excited about the challenge.
“A lot of the players I already know and I am aware that they have a great work ethic and it’s up to me to make the most of it.”
The new manager, who in a professional career clocked up more than 500 League and cup appearances spanning 16 years, pledged his blue-clad charges would adhere to his principles of playing in a fluid and entertaining style.
“In all the teams I have been involved with, I insist on us playing the right way, not a long-ball game, but encouraging all my players to play to feet and also to work hard,” added the 48-year-old Cook.
“I want my players to enjoy themselves, but you always enjoy football more if you are winning.
“This club has worked very hard to get itself right off the field. Now I hope we are ready to move up.
“I want to give this club the football that a good-run club like Pickering Town deserves.”
Playing fluently may be his first credo, but Cook also wants success headed by promotion from the NCEL premier tier.
“It’s always good to have a record like that (the first to bring promotion). If it’s me then great, if it isn’t, then I promise that we will have worked hard to have a go at it.”
Ever since he combined playing in one of four separate spells with his hometown club Scarborough with being their first Community Development Officer in the mid-1980s, Cook has always espoused the importance of developing talent.
And he will hope to maintain that at the club some 20 miles down the road from his Scarborough base.
Through his travels Cook has built up a network of contacts. Just a day after his appointment was confirmed he got a congratulatory text and follow-up call from Notts County manager Craig Short, his former Boro team-mate and current Pickering Town president.
Short is hoping to bring a Magpies team down to his former Recreation Road stamping-ground in a bid to raise funds for the club where he started his fledgling career that took him to Scarborough and on to Notts County, Derby County, Everton, Blackburn Rovers and Sheffield United.
During his own extensive playing-career Cook has played under some of the game’s most forceful managers such as Bruce Rioch, Billy Ayre and Neil Warnock.
As he got his teeth into his new managerial posting – he briefly managed Scarborough during their Football League days in 1996 – Cook said: “I will try to pick the good things from all the managers I have played for.
“But I believe you have got to be your own man and my true traits are to play good football and work hard.
“I have followed that for a long time and will continue to do so.”