Bognor say defender is key recruit.. as skipper goes under knife

Jack Pearce and Robbie Blake have hailed the signing of centre-half Joe Cook as vital to the team’s hopes of Isthmian League success in 2021-22.

Thursday, 29th April 2021, 9:52 am
Joe Cook, pictured with Simon Cook when signing on for last season

Jack Pearce and Robbie Blake have hailed the signing of centre-half Joe Cook as vital to the team’s hopes of Isthmian League success in 2021-22.

The cultured former Havant defender has committed to a third campaign at Nyewood Lane and is seen as a pivotal figure as the bosses plot another promotion campaign.

It comes as another important member of the squad – skipper Harvey Whyte – recovers from a hip operation that it’s hoped will end his recurring injury problems.

Harvey Whyte challenges for a high ball at Bishop's Stortford - he has now had an op to cure a hip/groin problem / Picture: Lyn Phillips

Pearce was delighted to land Cook and said: “It’s good to have Joe with us again for next season.

“He’s a very assured central defender who we think will continue to develop and get better and better.

“We’re delighted he has signed a deal with us and look forward to working with him again.”

It is one of a clutch of new deals secured at the Nye Camp, with keeper Amadou Tangara, skipper Whyte, defender Joe Hancott and utility man James Crane among those already tied down by the Rocks.

Coach Blake said Cook’s importance to the side was clear to anyone who’d seen him play.

“He’s massively important to the nucleus of the team and it’s a massive coup for us to get him. He has so much quality and is a real team player,” he said.

Blake is content with how the 21-22 squad was coming together, and he expects more new faces to be unveiled ahead of the squad’s earlier-than-usual return to pre-season sessions in June.

Rocks general manager Simon Cook said: “Jack and Robbie are working diligently, talking to players and we are making real progress.

“It’s fair to say we will soon have more good news for supporters in regards to retaining players and recruiting as well.”

Meanwhile Rocks captain Whyte has undergone surgery on an injury that has troubled him for some time.

Boss Pearce said Whyte’s issue initially appeared to be a groin problem but it had turned out he required surgery on his hip joint.

He went under the knife on Monday and is expected to be out for around three months, so could miss some of pre-season or even the start of the season.

But Pearce said being able to get the op done now, thanks to a cancellation, and not wait for it was good for Whyte – and for Bognor.

“We thought there was going to be quite a long wait for the operation because of Covid hold-ups but we were able to get it done.

“Hopefully it will put Harvey right and now he won’t have problems later on.”

Meanwhile, general manager Cook issued an update on an upsurge in demand for season tickets.

He said: “We have confirmed we are carrying over all season tickets from last season to cover the 2021-22 season as a thank-you to supporters and we were blown away last year by a huge jump in numbers – from just under 100 season tickets in season 2019-20 to almost 150 in 20-21 season.

“However, we have been amazed and delighted by the continuing interest, with almost a dozen new season tickets purchased in the past week alone and a number of existing season ticket holders sending generous donations to the club in lieu of having to purchase a new ticket for the coming season.”

Supporters wishing to buy new season tickets can do so online at