Interview: Billy Crook

crook1Billy Crook arrived at Peterborough United from boyhood club Crystal Palace at the age of 16 and was part of the famous “back-to-back” squad. He now plies his trade in the Isthmian League Premier Division for Metropolitan Police FC, but is hoping to work his way back into League football in the near future…

You were at Crystal Palace as a youth, how was that experience?
The experience was great. The team I supported as a boy, and we had just been promoted to the Premiership under Ian Dowie. I had top players like Victor Moses and Sean Scannel in my age group. John Bostock and Nathaniel Clyne were few years below.

Peterborough United signed you at 16 from Crystal Palace, how did that move come about?
Dave Robertson actually got a job at posh from Crystal Palace and told me about having more opportunity at a team who were on the up. I had never been out of London so was a little nervous. But I knew my chances of getting a pro at Palace were slim. After signing, Darren Ferguson came in a couple weeks after and the whole club was on its way up.

You made the bench 8 times at a very young age whilst Peterborough were plying their trade in the Championship, did you take a lot from that experience?
I loved every minute of it! I had been travelling with the squad to away games the season before, but to actually be on the bench at places like Forest, Swansea and Watford was massive. I just wish I could have got on and showed something in what turned out to be a poor season through relegation.

crook2Gary Johnson made the decision to release you, do you feel you’d of had a future at Posh if Ferguson had of stayed?
I believe I did. He told me in league 2, the higher we go the more likely you’ll play because you’ll get more time, and you’re technically good enough. He taught me a lot and I feel he believed in me. It’s a shame how things worked out but that’s football.

You were at Posh during their famous back to back promotions from league 2 to the Championship, did that success make you hungry to achieve more in the future?
Those were great times, even as a youth player. Seeing the first team winning almost every week and the confidence would rub on everyone involved. Even though I never played but was part of the 18 man squad, the promotion to the championship is still my career highlight.

You’re currently at Met Police in the Isthmian League Premier Division, how are you finding it at that level?
To be honest I’ve played a lot of games in this league, and I should be playing higher. The pitches aren’t as good and you get no time on the ball. But I’ve adapted my game a little to do well in the non-league. However I’ll always be the one trying to get the ball down, and try to never lose it. Hopefully that comes across when I play and someone can take a chance on me. I was at Dulwich Hamlet last year, my local club. And I’m pleased to see my mate Erhun (Oztumer) doing well for Posh! Far too good to be playing non-league and hope he will do well there.

What’s your aspirations and goals for the future?
My aspirations still are to get back into the league. Even if I only get to the conference, I’m realistic to know the Championship is a bit of a step too far now. But I’m still young enough to have a good career in and around league 2 and conference, and then you never know.

Finally, do you have any regrets?
I look back at my time at Posh and believe I gave everything I had. It was just unfortunate with Darren leaving and someone coming in under pressure, with no time to look at a young lad on a year contract. But that’s football and I’ll continue to play the same way and hopefully climb the leagues again.