Manchester City FC

Lee Crooks - Manchester City FC - Biography of his Man City career.

Photo/Foto: George Herringshaw

Date: 01 January 1999

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      Saturday, 14 January 1978
      Wakefield, England.
  • Manchester City FC
    • Club Career Dates
    • League Debut
      10th September 1996 as a sub in a 2-0 win at Port Vale (Aged: 18)
    • Club Career
      73 League games 2 goals.
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Lee CROOKS - Manchester City FC - Biography of his Man City career.


 As an introduction into league football the 1996/97 season could not have been any more turbulent for 18-year old Lee Crooks, serving under no fewer than five different managers by the turn of the year as newly-relegated Manchester City found life in Division One far from comfortable. After representing England at youth level the Wakefield-born defender was given his debut by caretaker boss Asa Hartford when he was brought on as a substitute in a 2-0 away win at Port Vale on September 10th 1996, going on to make 15 league appearances as the Blues finished in a disappointing mid-table position as a succession of managers came and went in a topsy-turvy season. Things went from bad to worse a year later when the club were relegated into the third tier of English football, with Lee making only five starts as he looked to cement a place in a side that was in freefall.

Crooks was finally given a decent run in the side in mid-October 1998 when he replaced Richard Edghill at right-back in a 1-0 win at Wigan Athletic, and from then on he was a virtual ever-present for the rest of the season with Edghill reverting to an unfamiliar left-back role on his return. Lee then picked an opportune moment to claim his first senior goal for the club, crashing in a spectacular long-range effort to grab the equaliser in a 1-1 draw at Chesterfield at the end of February, a point which kept the team in the Division Two play-off spots where they remained for the rest of the season. After disposing of Wigan Athletic in a 2-1 aggregate win the Blues moved on to Wembley for the play-off final against Gillingham, eventually winning a dramatic encounter on penalties (3-1) after a 2-2 extra-time stalemate as they returned to Division One at the first attempt. Lee had made a total of 34 league appearances with the one goal and had seemingly made the right-back position his own.



At the start of the 1999/2000 season the loan signing of left-back Danny Granville from Leeds United meant that Edghill gave up the temporary left-back position he had been filling, and was now in competition with Crooks for the right-back slot. As a result Lee fell out of favour with manager Joe Royle and had to be content with a place on the substitute's bench and the occasional outing, scoring on one of his rare starts when he got the opening goal in a 1-1 draw with Crewe Alexandra at the turn of the year. He subsequently started only one more game until the end of the season (a 1-0 defeat at Sheffield United) as he suffered a number of recurring injuries, and had to be content with only 9 first-team starts in his 20 league appearances as City achieved promotion to the Premiership on the last day of the season with a 4-1 win at Blackburn Rovers.



The return to the top-flight saw Crooks unable to break into manager Royle's first eleven once again, making only two substitute appearances at the end of September in games against Tottenham Hotspur (0-0) and Newcastle United (0-1). With his opportunities at the club now appearing to be limited he was sent out on loan to Northampton Town in December, and on his return it was decided he was surplus to requirements and the club accepted a bid of £190, 000 for him from Barnsley in March 2001. In his time at City Lee had made a total of 91 league and cup appearances (26 as a substitute), scoring 2 goals, but never quite established himself in the side despite helping the club to two successive promotions.



After his spell at Barnsley Crooks later went on to play for Bradford City and Notts County (loan) before moving to Rochdale, where he played until March 2008 when he left the club by mutual consent to ready himself for climbing Mount Kilimanjaro with a friend in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support. (David Redshaw)


After retiring from football, Crooks chose a new career in the British Armed Forces. He signed up as an enlisted member (gunner) of the RAF Regiment, the infantry unit of the Royal Air Force, whose role is to provide force protection of RAF airfields and bases.