Former English professional footballer Garth Crooks OBE is a speaker of Jamaican descent who played for various teams across the UK during his almost fifteen-year career including Manchester United, Stoke City and is now a major figure within footballing punditry. Alongside his work as a sports speaker Garth Crooks OBE spent a short period of time as the chairman of the Professional Footballer’s Association, the first black person to hold the position.
Crooks progressed through the youth ranks at Stoke City eventually signing a professional contract in March 1976. Making his debut in April at Stoke’s home ground against Coventry City becoming the first black player to play for Stoke since Roy Brown in the 1940s. Despite the racist abuse black players faced during Garth’s playing career his ‘cocky arrogance’ meant it did little to affect him as his pace caused problems for Second Division defences as he again top-scored with 19 in 1977–78.
In 1979, he played in a benefit match for West Bromwich Albion player Len Cantello, that saw a team of white players play against a team of black players, a real indication of the discriminatory culture at the time. Crooks 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 Cup trophies, and the 1984 UEFA Cup. 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. Garth 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. Whilst still an active player Crooks made his first forays into the role of a football speaker, working as a match analyst for the coverage of the 1982 and 1990 World Cups, a career he would purse after his playing days.
Following his retirement in 1990, after three years spent at Charlton Athletic, Crooks became a full-time football speaker, pundit and commentator; appearing on Match of the Day and Final Score for the BBC. Crooks is now a well-known sports speaker and is often called in to interview current players, comment on and blog about Premier League games. In the late 1990s, Crooks became presenter of the political television show Despatch Box aiding to his diversity within television.
A major personal accolade came 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.
Crooks is well acquainted with prejudice and adversity; as a football speaker Crooks shares his experience of being a racial minority in what is arguably a racially prejudiced world. These experiences, along with impressive playing abilities and knowledge of football that make Garth Crooks OBE an excellent choice of football speaker for any sports related event. A highly motivational and inspirational personality who has fought against all odds and faced hardship throughout his career but has always risen against all odds and succeeded, Garth Crooks OBE is a fantastic football speaker certain to be a wonderful addition to your event.
To book Garth Crooks to make a personal appearance at your corporate event, function or conference, simply contact the Champions Football Speakers agency by filling in our online contact form or by calling a booking agent directly on 0207 1010 553.