Cook steps down after 47 years' service to RedingensiansBy Nigel Sutcliffe
August 02, 2012
Redingensians chief executive Gary Reynolds paid tribute to John Cook who has retired as club secretary after 38 years in office.
Reynolds said: “There were times in the 1990s when the club would have folded but for John.
"He has been an inspiration to us all, a hard-working, generous, successful man with a special set of values.
"Gensians, without him in office, will be like the Vatican without the Pope.”
Cook, 66, a Harrow School pupil, joined Gensians as a teenager in 1965 when his cousin Rodney Huggins was chairman.
Three years later he became the first club captain who had not attended Reading School and held the position for three seasons.
He went on to become assistant secretary and chairman.
He recalled: “It was a bit different being skipper in those days.
"On the morning of home matches, I picked up food for the meals.”
“Then I had to make sure the coke boiler was alight or it would be cold showers after the match.
"Sometimes I marked out the pitch if it hadn’t already been done.
“In the 1960s we fielded just three senior teams.
"Now we have five as well as junior sides of all ages from Colts to Mini under-sevens.
“In 1971 I went on the Lions tour to New Zealand and saw how they encouraged youth rugby.
"On my return a 12-year-old lad from Woodley wrote to ask when he could start playing for the club.
“Eventually his dad Peter Evans started a youth section and with a new clubhouse built, the club took big steps forward.”
“I feel our success in recent years has been down to the club’s sound youth policy which has produced plenty of first-team players.”
One of his favourite memories over the years is the final match of Gensians’ first year in the league.
Reduced to 14 men, they beat Marlow 14-10 away to win the South Counties League – and promotion.
Cook recalled:“Marlow had been quite strong locally and refused to give us a first-team game.
"I enjoyed reminding them of that in an after-match speech.”
Since then Gensians have had their ups and downs but Cook’s last year in office has coincided with a record-breaking campaign when they finished third in National 3 South West.
He confessed: “If 40 years ago I’d predicted the result, Bridgwater & Albion 0 Redingensians 85, people would have thought I was mad!”
Cook, an Oxford University graduate and a qualified barrister. retired as a stockbroker earlier this year, and has handed over the secretaryship to Gareth Rees, another club stalwart.
But as well as going on globe-trotting sports trips, he will continue to keep a keen eye on Gensians’ progress.