Mullen and Cooke appointed at MDT

Pair re-unite as Market Drayton Town management team.

Market Drayton Town have appointed former Burnley, Stoke City and Shrewsbury Town striker Andy Cooke to a newly-created post of Director of Football.

He will link up with his old boss, Jimmy Mullen, the man who gave him his big break from the non-League game 16 years ago, in what Market Drayton Town chairman Julian Parton describes as a "fantastic" partnership.

Mullen, who was manager of Burnley when he signed Drayton-born Cooke from Newtown as a promising 20 year-old, said he was looking forward to renewing their partnership, albeit in different roles.

"He's a great lad and a football person... the sort of bloke you can get on with," said Mullen, who has achieved a major turnaround in Town's fortunes in just three games since taking over as manager from Neil Woolliscroft, who resigned after 21 games in charge, with Town bottom of the Evo-Stik League South and out of all cup competitions.

Former Sheffield Wednesday star Mullen, whose other managerial and coaching work has included spells with Rochdale and Walsall added: "Andy and I have kept in touch down the years and as we now both live in the Drayton area we want to help the Town club over their present difficulties."

Cooke, who began playing football as an eight year-old with Drayton's junior club, the Tigers, said he was delighted to be given the opportunity to work for Town both behind the scenes, and in a promotional role - and, at 37, he felt he still had plenty to offer as a player.

"I'm working on my fitness and intend playing when possible," said Cooke, who scored at almost a goal every three games in his five years with Burnley and has maintained a high strike rate throughout his career since - including a lucrative two season spell in Korea.

Chairman Parton said Cooke's signing was fantastic that the club had been able to secure the services of a management team with the experience and calibre of Cooke and Mullen.

"I can't wait to see Cooke in a Drayton shirt for I watched him many times when he wore Stoke City's colours," he said.
A statement issued by the club read: "The board of directors are pleased to be able to confirm the appointment of Andy Cooke as Director of Football and also a player working alongside Jimmy Mullen, our recently appointed first team manager."

The duo make their management debut against Belper Town in the Evo-Stik League South at home tomorrow with Drayton desperate to pull away from league's relegation zone.

Unbeaten in three games since Mullen arrived, they are currently third from bottom but most of the sides around them have two or more games in hand.

Both men have strong links with the club. Cooke was born in Drayton - his family's farmhouse home overlooks the ground - while Geordie Mullen has adopted the area and actually managed Town when the club was launched from the ashes of the town's popular former Sunday League outfit, Little Drayton Rangers.

And both are fiercely determined that the passion and commitment they feel for Town will be the rallying call for all they achieve on the pitch.

Cooke, pledges he and his one-time mentor have one aim this season - survival. "We're here to have a real go at saving this club's status; to keep Town in the Evo-Stik League," he said.

"Yes, we bring a lot of experience, a lot of knowledge and a great number of good contacts to the job but, above all, we're here to have a go, quite simply, have a real go at it both on and off the field.

"It might not always make results go our way but of one thing you can be absolutely sure - supporters will be getting 110 per cent from us and our teams.

"Jimmy's done a fantastic job in his three games in charge. With his know-how and guidance, the lads have shown they can be a real handfull going forward and that will be our target, to go forward, on and off the pitch.

"There's a tremendous group of people working behind the scenes here. They've achieved wonders - but there's no point having a great pitch if you play badly on it.

"There's an awful lot to do in that direction. But we've got some good players committed to the club and we hope to bring in others who can compliment them and help the whole team grow in confidence and commitment, without which you can't really achieve anything."

Mullen said he is looking forward to renewing their partnership, albeit in different roles.

He felt their blend of abilities would boost the club's fortunes. Their paths had varied since their Burnley days but they'd always kept in touch.

He added: "As we now both live in the Drayton area, we want to help the Town club over their present difficulties. I got involved again because years ago I used to manage the Drayton team."

Club chairman Julian Parton thought it was "fantastic" that the club had been able to secure the services of a management team of Mullen and Cooke's experience and calibre. "Having two men of such experienced and ability living locally and agreeing to work together in this way for their town club is a fantastic boost for us," he said.

Where next?

Atkins hoping to avoid striking headache Matlock Town update, by Ian Richardson.
Sculpher rejoins Clitheroe management Former boss takes position alongside Carl Garner.

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