I honestly enjoy the successes of others as much as my own and that’s what underpins this club.
Towards the end of 2018 the club were delighted to learn that long-time member and former 1XI captain Garry Cook had been awarded the Kent League Cricketer of the Year by the league. This title is one of the most prestigious the league awards at their annual dinner.
We think everyone that knows Cookie and the influence he has had on so many at the club will know there isn’t a more deserving recipient of this award. You will have seen Garry’s name mentioned throughout some of the other interviews we have done over the last couple of years, which is a testament to his character and how highly valued he is by all members.
After a busy Christmas period, we had chance to catch up with him to discuss his time at the club and his pride upon receiving the award.
We would also like parents to show/read this interview to their junior players as there are many important messages to take from it both as people and cricketers.
When did you first become involved with the club?
Shaun ‘Nosey’ Parker, a great man, got me involved back in 1996 when he got me playing alongside him in my dad’s Sunday team. Neil Wilson was captain of the second XI at that time and later that year I got the opportunity to play in the first team with Ian Rossiter (Rossi) as skipper.
We had some fantastic days back then playing with and against some top players, many who are still involved with the club today.
What team highlights stick out for you over the years?
As time goes by you always reflect on the successful seasons. I’ve been really lucky to win a couple of league titles, in 2005 and 2015, as well as some more promotions.
The 2005 season, as captain, particularly stands out. To lead guys I’d grown up idolising and held in such high regard was a real honour and I’m proud to say we’ve remained great pals to this day. The likes of Jeff Snowden, Jim Lowrie, Ron Turner, Nigel Knapp, Rossi, Ross Allen (Bear), Gavin Pointer (Gloveman), Micky Wood, Matt Wagstaff, Chris Round made for a great atmosphere around the club; it was also a pretty care-free time where cricket was number one with some late, late finishes in the old bar!
2015 was another highlight when we won Division 1. Everyone seemed to have a clear understanding of their roles and stood up and made themselves counted. People like Ed Stanford, Des Bailey, Jamie Williams, Howard Powell, Mark Lewis-Ranwell, Bear, Sam Jewiss, Miguel Dee and Dave Walker (Walks). Walks was a real rock for me personally in that period and we developed a special friendship, as I did with many in that team.
I’ve also been through some pretty low moments in a cricketing sense with relegations and battles at the wrong end of the table, but that’s life - in many ways you cherish the special times more because of the lessons you learn.
What’s your best personal moment at the club?
There’s been too many to really highlight one. The period I spent opening the batting with Gloveman was special as we were (and still are) great friends. I knew he would whack it and all I needed to do was nick one to third man! I loved watching G-man batting although I’m not sure he loved me telling him to block a few – I’m convinced he got caught at long-on just to wind me up!
I’m proud to have scored a few runs over the years and had some success but I’m prouder of the friendships I’ve made. I honestly enjoy the successes of others as much as my own and that’s what underpins this club. I truly enjoy, for example, finding out how the 3s and 4s have done, going to watch the Sunday development team or seeing youngsters developing.
How do you reflect on 'that' day at Linden Park?
In some ways that day now feels like a bad dream that never really happened. It was a horrific incident and will live with all of us that went through it. I also look back with tremendous pride as people stepped up to get involved, none more so than Bear who undoubtedly saved that man’s life. He’s a great pal of mine who I would dearly love to see back in a Dartford shirt.
Dartford and Linden Park will also be forever linked from that day. It showed that cricket is only a game and that winning or losing is not the end of the world. We were able to work together to do something really special.
How does it make you feel when you hear your name mentioned as one of the most influential people for many people at the club?
Strange really and not something I have really thought about. All I would say is that whatever I have said to people is to help them and make them better; it’s never been to inflate my own ego or to unnecessarily criticise.
I think we’ve got some great talent at the club with some youngsters who can make a real breakthrough. John Smyth (1XI captain), in particular, learnt a lot this year and, if he reflects and pushes on, I think 2019 could be a big season for him.
What does the award at the league dinner mean to you?
It was a proud moment made more special by the fact my dad was there. My dad was, is and will always remain my hero. I’ve always wanted to do him proud on the field so that was a great moment to share with him.
Rossi deserves a mention here and I was never shy of letting the league know that he has more than earnt the right to be awarded with this honour; he taught me so much and I share the award with him and all those I’ve played with. Cricket is a team game and I am lucky to be singled out for what we, as a club, have achieved over the past 20 years.
I want to thank the league for giving me the award as well as the umpires and opponents that have had to put up with me! Last but not least, I’d also like to thank my mum, sister, Jane (my wife) and my kids - they have always been my rocks and travelled over the county to watch me.
What message would you give to the younger players at the club looking to make the step-up into senior cricket?
The most important thing I learnt very early is that you can’t always win - but you can always compete.
Be brave. You have to believe in yourself. I see so many with real talent but that on its own doesn’t win you games, neither does it get you runs or take you wickets. You have to want to be in those big moments and see them through. Callum Jackson last year was great at doing that. Yes, he had talent, but he also had a plan and backed himself to carry that out.
Try and have a bit of class with how you go about things. I’ve lost count of the times I wished I’d shown a bit more class on the field but we should all strive to do so every time you step on the field.
In the same sense, remember it’s a club and all the people that make it possible for you to play. Scorers, umpires, ground staff, committee members, bar staff and people that come up to support. Take time to thank them and talk to them.
As much as I have made friends on the field I’ve also developed great friendships off it with the likes of Pat Lippiatt, Mick Cully, Harry Bright, Rosie Wilson, Dave and Lynne Hill springing to mind.
Take time to take in the history of the club and those that have made massive contributions to the club such as Jim Lowrie, who carried out the new pavilion project. I can never reference everyone here who have (and continue to) make huge sacrifices for the club.
Above all enjoy: enjoy making memories with your mates. Cricket is a great game and Dartford is a great club.
We would like to again thank Garry for all his hard work over his many years of service and look forward to many more as the club head into our fifth season at the new pavilion.