Tommy Cook (1901-1950) was born at 30 South Street, Cuckfield where his parents Alfred and Eliza ran a sweet shop. He showed early promise as a footballer and was only 12 when he started playing for Cuckfield Football Club.
He enlisted in the Royal Navy during World War One and was awarded a gallantry medal for rescuing a shipmate from the waters off the Russian port of Archangel.
In August 1921 Tommy joined Brighton and Hove Albion, making 209 appearances for the club and scoring 114 league goals, including 8 hat-tricks. He was capped for England in 1925, unheard of for a player in such a low division – as it would be today.
Tommy wanted to keep fit during the football off season, and to supplement his modest club wages, so he turned to cricket, where his athletic skills were no less impressive. After only one game for Cuckfield Second XI, he was invited to play for Sussex. As a county player he scored 20,000 runs including 32 centuries and was considered very unlucky not to have played for England. He retired from his sporting career at the age of 36.
Eliza Cook was Tommy’s greatest supporter: once when he made a spectacular catch she jumped up and shouted at the top of her voice “I’M HIS MOTHER!”
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