Pete Crook – My StoryDalton Harris
If a manager or coach doesn’t think you’re good enough, that’s not everyone else’s opinion and there will be a coach or manager out there that will think you’re good enough.
My name is Peter Crook, I’m an ex professional footballer and currently play for Harrogate Town as a goalkeeper in the National League North. I’m going to be talking about how my football career came to be so far and what I believe it takes to be a professional footballer.
My career started as you would expect, at my local team at a very young age. At the time I had no intention of really becoming a professional footballer, my only intention was to play a game of football with my friends on a Sunday afternoon.
To start with, I was a centre back but at the age of 13/14, our goalkeeper broke his hand, I stepped in goal and the rest is history. Within a few months of becoming a goalkeeper I got a trial with Scunthorpe United. I was relatively inexperienced at the time and they decided not to sign me but that gave me motivation and an aspiration with what a wanted to do in my life.
I worked hard on my game and after a successful trial, I signed for Sheffield Wednesday U14s. By the age of 15 I was training with 1st team goalkeepers Lee Grant and Richard O’Donnell under goalkeeper coach Billy Mercer once per week. This was an incredible experience that I learnt so much from. At the end of being an U16, I was offered an extended schoolboy contract which meant I would play for the youth team but without getting paid. However, this was a long way to travel without receiving any travel expenses as I live in Ossett, Wakefield, around a 45 minute journey and had no other means of earning any money.
Ironically, I signed for Scunthorpe United’s youth team and lived in digs for 2 years. We formed a good friendship and still talk to this day. Unfortunately things didn’t work out well for me at Scunthorpe with there being 3 different managers and with the finances not being great, I was released.
It took me a year to find my feet again after playing for a variety of non-league clubs and starting a degree in sports coaching and development at Leeds Metropolitan University. After this I signed for Harrogate Town as second choice goalkeeper for the 2013/14 season.
During that time I was loaned out to local neighbours Harrogate Railway Athletic in the Evostick North League one, enjoyed a good season and received the supporter’s player of the year. I then broke into the Harrogate Town team and cemented my place at first choice goalkeeper in January of the 2014/15 season.
The 2015/16 season was and is my most successful season to date, playing every league game and finishing 4th overall and reaching the semi-final of the playoffs. In March of that season, I received a called up for the England C team to play Ukraine U23s in Kiev. I came on as a late substitute and received a cap which is the proudest moment of my career to date. Recently, I have had a trial at Premier league club Burnley and have had interest from a variety of different league clubs but currently remain at Harrogate Town.
To become a professional or even a semi-professional footballer, first of all, takes a lot of dedication and sacrifice. This is dedication to work as hard as possible on and off the pitch and the sacrifice is to get rid of anything that is going to have a detrimental effect on your game. That is the thing that you can do something about and therefore the sky is the limit.
However, I believe there is a side of the game you simply can’t do anything about and that is being in the right place at the right time which is essentially, luck. Also I’ve also realised throughout my career that although a manager or coach doesn’t think you’re good enough, that’s not everyone else’s opinion and there will be a coach or manager out there that will think you’re good enough.
Essentially however, if you enjoy what you’re doing, that’s the main thing and you should carry on pushing yourself to the limit.