THREE SEASONS OF NATHAN COOK’S MAGIC COME TO AN END

Nathan Cook celebrating the Gordon Brasted cup win with a bottle of fizz

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The departure of supporters to Clapton CFC, days after the youth team had left, perhaps overshadowed the news that the longest-serving player at the Essex Senior League Clapton team quit too.

Nathan Cook joined in the summer of 2015 and was part of both Mike Walther’s team that won the Gordon Brasted Trophy and Jon Fowell’s side that finished league runners-up.

He bagged 8 goals scored from midfield in 2015/6, went one better the next season, then finished an injury-hit 2017/8 with two goals in the final two games.

We caught up with the 28-year-old for an exit interview following his announcement on Twitter that he was moving on.

Asked about his early days at the Tons, Nathan, who had previously played for Portslade Athletic among other teams in his hometown Brighton, said: “My first ever game was a friendly for the reserves up in Chingford.

“Andre Thomas was managing and I remember doing pretty well so I was in the firsts for the pre-season friendlies.

“I couldn’t believe people were coming to watch these games and bringing banners even when they were miles away!

“My first league game was 2-1 loss to Basildon, poor game and I played terribly! I believe Tom Webb and Kristian Haighton were the two centre backs.”

A few weeks later though Nathan scored his first goals for the club in a marauding man-of-the-match performance away at Southend Manor.

That 5-1 win was immortalised in a memorable match report on the (much-missed) Red Menace website here.

When asked to select his best game over his three seasons, Nathan said: “My best performance personally was probably in the 2-1 win against FC Romania at Christmas 2016.

“I thought we did really well to win as they’re a very good team. I knew we’d have to really run to keep them out so I ran about like an idiot for the game! Jay Knight scored two on his debut I believe.

“My best goal was probably against Enfield at the end of the 2016/7 season. Great ball from Jerry and I managed to hook a volley (left foot if you’re asking) into the far corner.

“Modesty aside, it should’ve won goal of the season.”

And what about his favourite memories? “There’s a few good ones. Aside from the big wins (Newham 8-1, Enfield 6-2, Burnham 7-0), I remember the win against Barking 4-2 had a great atmosphere from the fans. That was a great game to play in.

“Also the 2-1 win in the semis to beat Wadham Lodge on the way to the cup win was huge. I remember the fans were louder than ever and we managed to win without really playing well.”

Tough question – what was the better achievement, the cup win that ended a LONG silverware drought, or the runners-up league campaign that followed?

Nathan said: “Coming second was a much better achievement, there were some very good players there that year. It was great to actually win something though…”

And what next? “I am going to keep playing for at least a bit more as long as I don’t get more injuries or anything.

“I had a great time at Clapton though, there’s really nothing like it.”

Since his departure, Nathan has been spotted playing for Isthmian League side Witham Town in a pre-season friendly. Wherever he ends up. we thank him for some amazing memories and hope our paths cross again once more.

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CLAPTON’S FIRST HOME WIN OF SEASON COMES AT A COST WITH SERIOUS NATHAN COOK INJURY

The Clapton players receive the applause after hanging on for a 1-0 win against Burnham Ramblers

Ten-man Clapton had to dig deep for a 1-0 win at home to Burnham Ramblers on Saturday courtesy of a first-half goal, some dogged defending and a debut penalty save.

But the first home league victory of the season was overshadowed by the news that playmaker Nathan Cook could be set for a lengthy lay-off after sustaining a broken collarbone.

Cook scored twice against Burnham in last season’s final-day 7-0 win against the Ramblers, and not unusually the midfielder had been Clapton’s greatest threat prior to his injury.

It’s ironic, then, that it was his replacement, striker Ikem Odeh, who struck the only goal of the game with virtually his first touch on 41 minutes.

And while Odeh seemed to pick up the baton in leading Clapton’s forward forays, the hosts never looked like repeating last season’s closing day demolition job.

And in the end, they were grateful to debutant goalkeeper Mark Kavanagh’s strong left hand as he repelled a Burnham penalty caught on video below:

From that point the red card shown to centreback Quincy Egbejale following the penalty incident gave the visitors a foothold they had barely merited up to that point.

And in the end the points were ground out thanks to Kavanagh’s heroics and a defence led by Dylan Ebengo on his first showing of the season following his dual registration with Cheshunt.

Yet as welcome as the points are, Cook’s injury took the shine of the day.

The severity of Cook’s injury was obvious as coach Ray Bartlett assisted a clearly uncomfortable Cook from the pitch.

Bartlett told Clapton FC News: “He got sandwiched between two guys, Nick [Loblack, another Clapton new boy] and one of their players, landed on his shoulder awkward and fractured it.

“I could tell it was broken when I ran on and looked. He said he didn’t have much feeling in his arm.

“I couldn’t take his top off so used it as a sling and pinned it up, till he got to hospital.”

Cook is expected to be out for 6-8 weeks and his injury seems likely to impact on his ability to do his job as a teacher for a while – a reminder of the risks players at this level of football face just for the joy of playing.

We wish Nathan a speedy recovery.

Match reports

With another tiny attendance, and bigger games elsewhere particularly in the FA Cup, there wasn’t much written about the game elsewhere.

Blogger John Fist visited but chose to watch the game outside with the Clapton fans. While he thought the game was “appalling”, he added that “the footballing experience was as much fun as John Fist has had in a long time.” Read his report here.

The Newham Recorder also wrote a short report which you can read here,

Photos

Players and coaches

Assistant manager Andre Thomas spoke to George Sessions of the Newham Recorder, admitting: “It was not one of the prettiest games for the fans who were watching through the gates or anyone else inside the ground and not for the players on both sides either, but it was all about the result.”

Debutant Mark Kavanagh was understandably delighted with his clean sheet and penalty save.

Aundre Spencer was also happy with his assist and the battling win.

CFC News man of the match: Ikem Odeh.

Attendance: Head count at 35, officially declared at 67.