Cocker fires broadside at Suffolk FA

PUBLISHED: 13:30 29 January 2010 | UPDATED: 15:38 04 March 2010

PETER Cocker has accused Suffolk Football Association of not best serving grass roots football.

"The association is now being run as a business," said Cocker, who was associated with Suffolk FA for 22 years before resigning last November.

PETER Cocker has accused Suffolk Football Association of not best serving grass roots football.

“The association is now being run as a business,” said Cocker, who was associated with Suffolk FA for 22 years before resigning last November.

“The picture I get from clubs as I go round is that they think they were best served when former secretary Bill Steward was running the county from his front room on a part time basis.

“There is a considerable amount of ill feeling towards Suffolk FA from member clubs, and like many others I'm concerned about this.”

One of the many posts Cocker resigned from was vice chairman, which under the normal course of events would have seen him move up to become chairman this summer.

Suffolk FA's most high level post is now being advertised.

Cocker has strong views on what he considers to be the poor way football in the county is being looked after.

But this had nothing to do with his resignation that came after an altercation at a directors' meeting about a failure to attend a county game.

“I thought about it for a week afterwards, but my integrity and my commitment were being challenged,” Cocker explained. “I didn't want to go to meetings with a chained vest to protect myself from being stabbed.

“I have attended many county matches over the years both evenings and at weekends.

“However, it was my choice not to attend and to spend more time with my family. After all I'm a volunteer.

“I was looking forward to future times with Suffolk FA. This will now not happen - much to my bitter disappointment.”

Apart from his vice chairmanship, Cocker was a Suffolk FA director and on the county match, referees', disciplinary, county challenge cup competitions and benevolent grants committees as well as a main FA shareholder.

He is the only person to be chairman of the Kingsley Healthcare SIL on three occasions and is still a life member and trustee of Suffolk's main Saturday league.

Martin Head is full time chief executive of Suffolk FA, and he stressed how disappointed he was to receive Cocker's resignation.

“Peter has served Suffolk football so well over 20-plus years,” said Head.

“I hasten to say that there was no conspiracy, just a set of circumstances. There was an altercation, but it was Peter's decision to go, which I was disappointed about.”

And replying to criticism that his organisation - that now has a number of full time staff - is not serving the rank and file as well as it should, Head replied:

“Peter has been part of the structure until recently so if there has been a decline he would have been party to that.

“But I don't think there has even though I admit Suffolk FA is now run on business lines. It is a limited company as has to be.

“I think clubs are getting a better deal with £millions available to improve facilities, more referees and a series of coaching and other courses.”

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