July 1997 saw the end of Ian Crook's 11-year Carrow Road career
when the City skipper flew out to Japan to sign a lucrative one-year
contract with Sanfrecce Hiroshima. He had been offered a further
one-season deal with the Canaries to add to his tally of 418 senior
appearances - which left him seventh on the club's all-time list
- and 24 goals. However the J-League offered too many incentives
and so Crook opted to join former teammate and best friend Mark Bowen in the far East rather than stay in East Anglia.
The 34-year-old midfield maestro admitted: "It is an opportunity
I can't turn down. It was nothing detrimental about the offer
here but the money is a big, big part of it and it's a great opportunity,
especially at my age." However Crook did not rule out a return
to Carrow Road in the future - possibly in a coaching role. "If
the gaffer fancies someone to make his tea for him in a year's
time I would be interested." His new manager was Scottish boss
Eddie Thomson formerly Terry Venables' predecessor as manager
of the Australian national side. After his first year in Japan,
he was offered another year's contract with Hiroshima. Ian himself
expressed interest in the Norwich City job after Mike
Ian then moved on to Australia to play for Sydney based side Northern
Spirit who were owned by Mark Goldberg, owner of Crystal Palace.
Spirit were being touted as a feeder club for Palace. One of his
new teammates was Robbie Slater who played for a number of English
sides including Southampton, West Ham, Blackburn and Wolves. According
to the Teamtalk website,
Ian Crook was being lined up to join Norwich City as assistant
to manager Bruce Rioch in 1999 because Director of Football Bryan
Hamilton will be taking a stronger role in managing the club's
football academy. Rob Newman has also
been linked with this post which eventually went to Doug
Ian initially retired from playing and concentrated on coaching
at Northern Spirit. In February 2000, he was promoted to the position
of Assistant Manager and has even returned from retirement to
play again for the Spirit against Wollongong. "Crooky is a
great player in his own right, but he is also the type of guy
who lifts others around him when he is on the field," said
Graham Arnold, Spirit's manager and a former teammate of Crook's
from their days at San Frecce in the Japanese J-League. "I
just think Crooky needs to be on the field. The players have enormous
respect for him; they respond to him. With Crooky leading them
they will have direction as well as thrust." (Eastern Daily
Press 1st February 2000). With Crooky looking after Northern Spirit
Youth who provided players for the Australian Under 17 national
side that reached the final of the World Youth Championships in
1999, the hope is that Chippy will refer some of them on to Norwich
in the hope that the next Mark Bosnich or Harry Kewell will be
there for Norwich's benefit.
Ian was named by Teamtalk
as a potential successor as Norwich City manager following Bruce
Rioch's resignation on 13th March 2000. When Bryan Hamilton
(Rioch's successor) resigned the following December, it was immediately
alleged that Norwich directors had been in contact with Chippy
to form a new management team, possibly with Mark
Bowen. In May 2001 Ian was appointed head coach of Australian
NSL side Newcastle United. Newcastle finished 2nd last in the
just completed season and he is being seen as the man to take
the club up the ladder. He is handling the media very well and
making a good impression. In May 2002, he was named Australian
Coach of the Year for the National League for taking Newcastle
to the National Soccer League finals, a task repeated in 2003.
However the 2003/4 season saw them finish third from bottom and
Chippy was sacked in April 2004.
In May 2004, Ian took on possibly the worse job in international
management when he took over managing the World Cup campaign of
American Samoa, which FIFA ranks as 203rd among the world's 204
national A selections. The Samoans' last tilt at the World Cup
saw them enter the Guinness Book of Records when they lost 31-0
to Australia. Approached by the American Samoa FA, Crook accepted
an assignment the Mission Impossible bunch probably wouldn't consider,
with bargepole in hand. He said he did so through his sense of
adventure and desire to maintain a record of never having been
unemployed during 24 years in professional football. It will be
a tough challenge as American Samoa comprises six specks in the
Pacific Ocean inhabited by merely 60,000 people. Its greatest
claim to fame is as the site of the world's largest tuna cannery.
Organised soccer only started in 1981 and is still played almost
exclusively by college students. American Samoa has played 21
senior international matches, mainly against fellow Pacific islands
minnows, and has lost them all.
At the end of November 2004, Crook was appointed Assistant Manager
of Australian A-League side Sydney FC, initally under former German
international Pierre Littbarski and then under former English
international defender Terry Butcher who took control in the summer
of 2006. Ian was linked in October 2006 with the vacancy at Carrow
Road following Nigel Worthington's
sacking. Poor form saw Sydney FC shareholder Anthony LaPaglia
call for Butcher to be sacked and Crook to be placed in charge.
This cause a break down in relations between Crook and Butcher
which saw Chippy ousted from the first team's training sessions
and left with the youth team. On 3rd January 2007, he quit the
club to link up with his former boss Pierre Littbarski as assistant
at Japan's second-division J-League outfit Avispa Fukuoka.
In October 2007, Crook and Littbarski were linked with the vacant
Norwich City manager's position following the departure of Peter
In the autumn of 2008, Ian applied for the manager's position
at new Hyundai A-League side North Queensland Thunder FC which
eventually was awarded to former Rangers midfielder Ian Ferguson.
On 23rd October 2008, Ian was appointed as the high-performance
manager.for the Newcastle Jets ahead of their first venture into
the Asian Champions League. The new role will encompass a variety
of responsibilities, but Crook's main focus will be on preparing
the club's assault on the Asian Champions League next year and
On 21st January 2009, Ian returned to Norwich as first team coach
as part of new manager Bryan Gunn's new
management set-up. He stayed for the 2009/10 season under Paul
Lambert but left the club by mutual consent in May 2010 to
return to his family in Australia. He was quickly linked with
a return to England with former colleague Pierre Littbarski who
had applied for the vacant Carlisle and Notts County positions.
On 16th June 2010 Ian signed an two years contract as Director
of Coaching for Sydney Olympic Football Club who play in the New
South Wales Premier League.
Ian left Sydney Olympic in 2010 to take up the position of Head
Coach at the New South Wales Institute of Sport. He then joined
Sydney FC (Australian A-League) working with former player Steve
Corica and under former Czech International Vitezslav Lavicka.
Following the departure of Vitezslav Lavicka at the end of the
2011/2012 season, Crook was appointed manager of Sydney FC on
14th May 2012
Crook quit as Sydney manager on 11th November 2012 following
a 3-2 defeat to arch rivals, Melbourne Victory. This was on the
back of a humiliating 7-2 loss to the Central Coast Mariners the
previous week. Crook has only be in charge for six games. He claimed
the pressure of the job started to affect his health and he realised
he wasn't the right man for the high-profile role.
In January 2013, Crook was appointed by Football NSW as Coach
Coordinator for the Men's and Women's Premier League clubs. As
well as co-ordinating with the coaches and technical directors
of the senior sides, he will also assist clubs with both their
Youth Development plans and overall technical direction.
Crook said I am very grateful to have been given this
opportunity by Football NSW to help engage with up and coming
coaches and technical directors to further enhance their abilities
to help promote the sport. Football is an ever growing sport with
a healthy participation rate; the same can be said in regards
to the number of up and coming coaches as well who are joining
our ranks and are overseeing the development of our future players.
In March 2014, he was linked with the Assistant Manager position
at Western Sydney FC. This became reality on 12th June 2014.
The Early Years
Ian is up there with Steve Bruce and Dave
Watson as one of the ultimate bargain signings that the club
has ever made. He began his career at Tottenham Hotspur but made
only 20 league appearances for them. His midfield role being blocked
by the talents of Glenn Hoddle, Mickey Hazard, Steve Perryman,
Ossie Ardiles, Gary Stevens etc. He left Spurs in June 1986, four
years after his league debut. He cost Norwich just £80,000
and after a slow start, became a regular in the Norwich midfield.
His pinpoint passing ability and technical skills especially free
kicks had won him many admirers including an England B cap.
Ian will always be highly regarded by the Norwich fans even though
his final season at Carrow Road was marred by his controversial
signing for Ipswich Town the previous summer. At the end of the
1995/96 season, Norwich's financial difficulties led to cost-cutting
exercises and Ian was granted a free transfer along with Mark
Bowen and Jeremy Goss. In June 1996,
he signed for arch-rivals Ipswich but his contract and player
registration forms were postdated until the beginning of July.
Mike Walker was re-appointed as Canaries manager on the
same day that Ian was paraded as an Ipswich signing. Walker offered
Crook a new contract which he duly signed. The dispute went to
a tribunal and although "Chippy" Crook was able to play for the
Canaries, the club was fined for its actions. Although some sections
of the Carrow Road audience suspected Crook's career was on its
last legs, he managed to make 37 league appearances (4 as substitute)
during the 1996/97 season scoring twice (Portsmouth (A) and QPR
(A) ). This brought his final tally of appearances for Norwich
to 418 with 24 goals.