"We're good enough to go the distance" - Wembley hero Cooke optimistic about Town's chances this season

Expect Jamie Cooke to launch into this season just like he does for every game.
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The 21-year-old capped an impressive first season at National League level with a match-winner at Wembley that epitomised the effort and commitment that characterises his approach.

"I thought it went very well," he reflected on last season. "I played a lot of minutes, more than expected going into the season, which I was very happy about.

"And obviously the end to the season was amazing.

Jamie CookeJamie Cooke
Jamie Cooke

"It still doesn't feel quite real really, it's mad!

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"Scoring at Wembley and all that, it's crazy. It's such an amazing experience and a couple of months on, it's still not really sunk in."

Cooke's hard work and endeavour will again run through his game like the words in a stick of rock as he embarks on the new campaign.

Having established himself as a National League player last season, and starting at Wembley, Cooke says he wants to play as many games as he can and to contribute as much to the team as he can.

"Just enjoy my football," he said, "that's the most important thing for me is that I'm enjoying it. If I'm not enjoying it, what's the point in doing it?

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"As long as I'm happy, which I am, then that's the main thing."

Not that Cooke will be easing off. Have you not seen Jamie Cooke play?

More goals and more assists are on his radar.

"Definitely, that's a massive part of the game, especially in the position I play, is goals and assists," he said.

"We were one of the lowest scoring teams last season and we want that to change.

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"So it's about taking more opportunities to get more assists and more goals."

Cooke's game suits his role as one of the two number ten's in Town's 3-4-3 system perfectly.

Leading the charge, pressing from the front.

"The gaffer has drilled it into us, the jobs you have in that position, especially off the ball," he said.

"I think that's a bit second nature now because I'm used to that position.

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"I enjoy that, the graft bit of it, sprinting after someone, I enjoy that kind of thing.

"Some people might not but I do like the hard work because you get the reward and the benefit from it."

His goal at Wembley being the prime example.

That winner against Gateshead is the high point of an upward trajectory for Cooke since joining Town two years ago.

"I'd say I've matured a lot and learnt a lot," he said.

"I only finished my scholarship and then played 12 games at Colne, and that was the Covid season, so being in and around here with the players and experience some of the lads have got, like Woodsy when he was here, Clarkey, people like that, you learn so much from them, and the advice they give.

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"Like with Warby the last two seasons, obviously we played the same position. The amount of advice he gave me, when we were in training, just little tips and bits that really helped, just little things you overlook that he helped me with.

"I really appreciate that. Everyone's together here, and you learn things every day, off the gaffer as well, he's taught me a lot, as a person not just as a player, reactions to things and things like that."

Cooke says it's "absolutely huge" that Town make a better start to the season than the previous campaign, where they were bottom of the table after 11 matches.

"If we didn't have that start last season and we'd started how the season went on, it would have been a different story, with the way we finished," Cooke said.

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"Having a good start is huge to us, but then again, I feel like we're in a better place this time going into the first game, a bit more organised and stuff like that.

"We know our philosophy, whereas I don't think we quite had that last season, so it's good to have that confidence going into it because we all know what we're doing and we all know our jobs.

"We're a bit younger, but in terms of ability, we've got some really good players.

"I think we feel a bit more comfortable at this point than we did last season in terms of squad depth and the amount of players we've got.

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"So in that sense we're probably a bit more confident going into it."

And Cooke is confident about Halifax's chances this season.

"We've got all the chance in the world," he said. "Why couldn't we?

"Of course we can, we've got the ability, we've got the players, we've got the staff. Everything about us, we're good enough to go the distance.

"So it's up to us to take that confidence into the league.

"Last season there was Wrexham and Notts County. Don't get me wrong there's some amazing teams in this league still, there really is, but I feel like we've got more of a chance, especially off the back of last season and how it ended.

"We don't fear anyone."