The Generation Game at Stalybridge Celtic

IT is very much a case of the generation game for the Cooke family at Stalybridge Celtic.

When 17-year-old Elliott this season was promoted to the first-team squad, he became the third generation of the family to play football for the Bower Fold club.

3 generations Martin, Elliott and Don Cooke

Elliott follows in the footsteps of dad Martin and grandfather Don, the latter being a club legend.

And in a remarkable coincidence, Elliott is a winger just like his father and grandfather were.

“Elliott is also two-footed just as I was,” explained Ashton-based Don who is a regular at Bower Fold.

Of the three generations, Don, 74, had the most illustrious playing career.

Don joined Manchester City aged 15 when he played alongside Neil Young, who later scored the winning goal in the 1968 FA Cup final, Fred Eyre and John Benson. He played in both the youth and ‘B’ teams.

After one season he was released and joined the groundstaff at Bolton Wanders whose side in the early 1960s included legends like Roy Hartle, Tommy Banks and Francis Lee.

Don later played reserve-team football in the Central League at Blackburn Rovers whose side included internationals Mike England and Fred Pickering.

He never made the breakthrough to first-team football and then moved into non-league with Altrincham, Witton Albion who were managed by former Manchester City star Ken Barnes, and Buxton before arriving in October 1967 at Bower Fold where former Sheffield Wednesday and Oldham Athletic winger Colin Whitaker was manager and Brian Green his No 2.

Don, who played outside left and inside forward, quickly became a favourite at Celtic until his career was effectively ended in December 1972 by a leg break in seven places. He made 292 appearances scoring 54 goals for Celtic over eight years and captained the side in 1971/72 season.

He was out for almost one year but after returning admitted he was not the same player and left the club in October 1974 when new manager George Sievwright didn’t select him. Later he signed for Hyde United before calling a halt to his playing days due to a serious hamstring injury.

Don worked for Manchester Transport, which became Stagecoach, as a mechanic, foreman and engineer before taking retirement aged 52.

Don’s son Martin, 51, followed in his footsteps, though he wanted to point out he never made Celtic’s first team.

Martin explained he played pre-season friendlies for Celtic in 1987/88 during trials with the team.
He later played non-league Bacup Borough and Oldham Town.

Martin’s son Elliott, meanwhile, was in the academies at Stockport County and Oldham Athletic and played for Curzon Ashton U18s before signing for Celtic.

Elliott, who can play either wing or right back, has been an unused substitute three times in the first team having been given game time in pre-season games.

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