Cooke prepares for step up
Wednesday 15 August
Russell Cooke is quietly confident that Ilkeston FC can take the step up to the Evo-Stik NPL Premier Division in their stride.
We host AFC Fylde at the New Manor Ground in our first game of 2012-13 after winning promotion at the end of last season through the Division One South play-offs.
Captain and central defender Cooke (pictured) is well aware that there will be a rise in standards from their opponents as they move up to the higher level, but insists we will be ready.
“A lot of lads have played at this level and above - Gary Ricketts, Laurie Wilson, Matt Richards, James Reid and myself would all be included in that number. Those lads obviously have the experience needed,” said Cooke.
“There are younger lads in the squad too, but they are a year older now and I believe they will have learned from some of their mistakes in the past. They are coming on all the time.
“I do think the quality we have in the squad is there for all to see and that is the most important thing. I don’t perceive there being a problem in bridging the gap.”
Cooke believes the biggest changes will be in terms of teams being more organised and how clinical they will be in front of goal.
He added: “There are a lot of clubs in this league who are very experienced at this level - clubs like Worksop and Matlock. Teams are going to be that much more professional in their approach this season and we have to be ready for that.
“It’s like in the Premier League when you hear the defenders of the newly-promoted teams talking about their mistakes being punished, when they weren’t in the Championship.
“It’s the same when moving up at non-league level with the errors proving more costly the higher up you go.”
Cooke expects Fylde, winners of Evo-Stik NPL Division One North in 2011-12, to provide a stern test and said: “I don’t know all that much about them, but having read up on them, it looks like they want to progress up the ladder like us.
“With the look of some of the players they have signed, whose names I recognise from the higher leagues, they have got a bit of money behind them and it bodes for a competitive match as both teams will want to get off to a good start.”