Thomas (Tommy) ER Cook

Tommy Cook was born at 30 South Street, Cuckfield on 5 February 1901, 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 excelled in several areas of his life but ultimately his life ended in tragedy. Tommy joined the Royal Navy before the required minimum age and went on to serve in Russia where he won a gallantry medal for diving over the side of the SS Glow-Worm to rescue a colleague from Archangel Harbour..

Having left the Navy, Tommy quickly established himself as an excellent all-round sportsman. He joined Brighton & Hove Albion in 1921 and at the end of that season started playing for his home village cricket club, Cuckfield. He was then invited to bowl in the Sussex nets and within a couple of weeks found himself travelling with the county side to Old Trafford to help with odd jobs, but instead ended up playing in the match and scoring 50 not out at No. 10.

He played for England v Wales

His performances at this time for Sussex did not compare with what he was doing for the Albion for in the 1923/24 season he played for England v Wales, and although this was his only internation, he continued to play at a high level, becoming quite a legend with the Goldstone crowds. He did show from early in his career that he was capable of scoring quickly for in 1923 he and AER Gilligan put on 118 for the eighth wicket against Gloucester at Hove in 45 minutes and in 1927 he and Maurice Tate put on 122 in 55 minutes for the third wicket v Worcestershire.

Gradually Tommy’s performances at cricket began to improve and in 1926 he scored his first century for Sussex and followed this with more than 1,500 runs in 1927, including being part of a partnership of over 200 with EH Bowley against Warwickshire at Horsham. This was just one of five partnerships of over 200 that he was involved in. Others were 281 with James Langridge v Surrey at the Oval in 1936, 209, again with James Langridge, v Gloucestershire at Cheltenham both for the fourth wicket, an unbroken 226 with AJ Holmes v Leicestershire at Leicester in 1937 for the fifth wicket, and 218 with AF Wensley v Worcestershire at Eastbourne in 1933.

In 1930 he produced a career best score of 278 v Hampshire at Hove, and over the next few  years, he excelled at his batting. In 1933 he scored 1,983 runs and in 1934, 2,132 runs. He also made double hundreds in successive seasons against Worcestershire and continued to produce innings of the highest quality until in 1937 he accepted a coaching job in Cape Town.

Highly regarded by Wisden

In all he scored 32 centuries, and in ten seasons exceeded 1,000 runs, his best being 2,132 in 1934. He played 729 innings for Sussex and scored 20,176 runs at an average of 30.38.  His highest score was the 278 against Hampshire, followed by 214 at Eastbourne in 1933 and 220 at Worcestershire both against Worcestershire. He was a useful change bowler and took a total of 80 wickets at an average of 36.00. Although he never played for England he was highly regarded. In 1933 Wisden wrote that ‘Cook was one of the few batsmen in England who showed a proper conception of the way to play slow bowling. Not many players, when jumping out to drive, so completely got tt the pitch of the ball as he did.

By the time he left the county in 1937, Cook had scored 20,198 runs at an average of 30.22 and taken 80 wickets. His best season had been in 1934 when he topped 2,000 runs and averaged 54.66. He was better known for his football exploits though as his England cap was the only one awarded to a Brighton & Hove Albion player for sixty years and he remains one of the few players from the third tier of football to achieve that feat.


Sussex Career Figures


Matches Innings NO Runs Highest Score 100s Avge
459 729 65 20176 278 32 30.38


Runs Wickets Avge BB 5i Ct
2880 80 36.oo 5/24 1 169