Story of Brighton and Hove Albion and Sussex CCC legend will raise money for good cause

The first book about record-holding Brighton and Hove Albion striker and Sussex cricket star Tommy Cook will raise money for people with mental health issues.

Thursday, 6th May 2021, 10:40 am
Updated Thursday, 6th May 2021, 10:42 am
Phil Dennett

Some of the proceeds from Tommy Cook, The Double Life of a Superstar Sportsman will help the mental health charity Mind. Cook suffered from severe depression before his death at the age of 49 in 1950.

Author Phil Dennett says material from the Mid Sussex Times played an important part in his research, as well as that of sister papers such the Sussex Express.

Tommy, born in Cuckfield in 1901, still holds the Albion record for peacetime goal-scoring and also the record for the highest score made for Sussex CCC by a player born in the county.

Tommy pictured on the front cover of the book

In the 1920s Tommy amassed 123 goals for Albion, and from 1922 to 1937 notched up more than 20,000 runs for Sussex.

In a life of adventure, personal disaster and triumph Tommy served in Russia in WW1 and survived an horrific air crash in South Africa in WW2. The book reveals in detail the background to his sad sacking as Albion manager in 1947 and his later rise to cult status after his early death.

The book reveals some previously untold details of his complicated personal life as well as his remarkable progress from Cuckfield football and cricket clubs to fame as a professional sportsman.

Author Dennett, a retired journalist, 70, from Burgess Hill, said: “I wrote the book because I felt a Sussex sportsman as good in two fields as Tommy was deserved one.

“In today’s sporting world, where professionals have to concentrate so hard on a chosen sport, his sort of achievement will never be repeated.

“My research was greatly hindered by restrictions made necessary by the pandemic, but fortunately there is a wealth of material from newspapers like the Mid Sussex Times. Some if it yielded surprise material for the book.

“A former Mid Sussex Times journalist, the late Mark Gale had a great interest in Tommy Cook, and thought his was an interesting story for someone to tell. I hope the book proves him right.

“Tommy rose with natural talent from local football and cricket and became a big star in two professional sports.

“His life was full of drama, heartbreak, joy and record breaking and he deserves to be remembered by generations of Albion and Sussex supporters.”

The book of more than 260 pages costs £15 and is available from the Brighton and Hove Albion shop online – shop.brightonandhovealbion.com/gifts/souvenirs/books-dvds – and from the Sussex Cricket Museum at the County Ground in Hove – sussexcricketmuseum.org