Garth Anthony Crooks, OBE (born 10 March 1958) is an English former professional footballer. He played for Stoke City, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United, West Bromwich Albion and Charlton Athletic. Throughout his career he was an active member of the Professional Footballers' Association and was elected the first black chairman of the union. He currently works for BBC Sport as the lead pundit on Final Score on BBC One on Saturday afternoons.
Crooks in 2012
|Full name||Garth Anthony Crooks|
|Date of birth||10 March 1958|
|Place of birth||Stoke-on-Trent, England|
|Height||5 ft 8 in (1.73 m)|
|1983–1984||→ Manchester United (loan)||7||(2)|
|1985–1987||West Bromwich Albion||40||(16)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
Crooks was born in Bucknall, Stoke-on-Trent, and is of Jamaican descent. He progressed through the youth ranks at Stoke City signing professional contract forms in March 1976. He made his debut in April at home to Coventry City becoming the first black player to play for Stoke since Roy Brown in the 1940s. In the 1976–77 season his first full season he was top-scorer albeit with just six goals as Stoke's financial problems saw them relegated to the Second Division. Many black players at the time suffered racist abuse from the stands. Crooks was no exception, but his "cocky arrogance" meant it did little to affect him. His pace caused problems for Second Division defences as he again top-scored with 19 in 1977–78 as Stoke failed to mount a serious promotion attempt. Manager Alan Durban decided to play Crooks as a winger at the start of the 1978–79 season, a decision which Crooks openly criticised. He was restored to his striker role with the season coming to an end which saw Stoke gain promotion by beating Notts County on the final day of the season. He scored 14 goals in 1979–80 as Stoke safely avoided relegation but tensions between Crooks and Durban resurfaced which led to Crooks handing in a transfer request.
He was sold to Tottenham Hotspur in the summer of 1980 for a fee of £650,000, where he formed a successful striking partnership with Steve Archibald. With Crooks leading the line, Spurs won two FA Cups, and the 1984 UEFA Cup against Anderlecht (he was an unused substitute in the final's second leg). Crooks is frequently credited as the first black player to score in an FA Cup final for his equalising goal in a 3–2 win over Manchester City in 1981, though this was pre-dated by Bill Perry in 1953 and Mike Trebilcock in 1966. He later went on loan to Manchester United and had spells at West Bromwich Albion and Charlton Athletic before a knee injury forced his retirement in 1990. His career ended on a low note as Charlton were relegated from the First Division, just as the West Bromwich Albion side he had played in four seasons earlier had been.
Crooks represented England at international level, making four appearances for the England under-21s, for whom he scored three goals.
In 1988, Crooks became the first black chairman of the Professional Footballers' Association but gave up the role after retiring in 1990. He first worked in the media as a guest presenter on 25 March 1982's Top of the Pops on BBC1 (with Peter Powell), then as a match analyst at the 1982 and 1990 World Cups, he later worked as Match of the Day's reporter at the England camp at Euro 2000 and the 2002 World Cup. In the late 1990s, Crooks became presenter of the political television show Despatch Box. In 1999, he was awarded an OBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours for his services to football punditry, specifically citing his ability to bring passion to football. He currently appears regularly on Final Score as a pundit and on rare occasions still appears on Match of the Day as a replacement for regular pundits Alan Shearer and Danny Murphy. He is occasionally seen interviewing players for Football Focus and also names his Premier League team of the week each week on the BBC website.
|Club||Season||League||FA Cup||League Cup||Europe||Other[A]||Total|
|Stoke City||1975–76||First Division||2||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||2||0|
|Tottenham Hotspur||1980–81||First Division||40||16||9||4||6||2||0||0||0||0||55||22|
|Manchester United (loan)||1983–84||First Division||7||2||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||7||2|
|West Bromwich Albion||1985–86||First Division||19||5||0||0||6||2||0||0||3||3||28||10|
|Charlton Athletic||1986–87||First Division||7||2||0||0||0||0||0||0||5||0||12||2|
- Matthews, Tony (1994). The Encyclopaedia of Stoke City. Lion Press. ISBN 0-9524151-0-0.
- Stoke City 101 Golden Greats. Desert Islands Books. 2002. ISBN 1-874287554.
- "Garth Crooks OBE – Football Speaker – Booking Agent".
- Adrian Chiles (17 November 2016). "The match that pitted white players against black players". BBC. Retrieved 18 November 2016.
- Football: Halcyon days for a political footballer, Alan Hubbard, The Independent, 11 April 1999
- "Garth Crooks". BBC. 10 August 2001. Retrieved 11 December 2007.
- Team of the week Retrieved 3 September 2008
- Garth Crooks at the English National Football Archive (subscription required)