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How Nolberto Solano convinced Harrogate Town goalkeeper Mark Cook to move to Peru

From Harrogate to Peru… How Nobby Solano lured Mark Cook to a land of beaches, jungles and needles in unspeakable places!

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UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 25 December 2012

Think of the more peculiar transfers in British football over the past 12 months, and Barnet signing Edgar Davids or Robert Earnshaw going on loan from Cardiff to Maccabi Tel Aviv might spring to mind.

But it’s fair to say the deal that saw Mark Cook, a goalkeeper with non-league Harrogate Town, join the biggest club in Peru takes some beating.

The link in this rather unlikely scenario is Nolberto Solano, the former Newcastle United midfielder, who until recently was manager of Club Universitario de Deportes, Peru’s most successful team and one that fills its 80,000-capacity Estadio Monumental for local derbies in Lima.

Tall order: Mark Cook is not certain he will stay in Peru

Tall order: Mark Cook is not certain he will stay in Peru

Solano knew Cook from his time as reserve-team keeper at Newcastle and a brief spell together at Hartlepool. Still, moving to South America was the last thing on Cook’s mind when he received a call while training at a gym in Newcastle in July.

'Nobby was in Peru,’ he recalls. ‘He was looking for a goalkeeper and wanted to know my situation. He said it was a hot country with nice beaches, nice weather and nice food. I thought, “that’ll do me!” ‘Obviously I was bit anxious about what Peru was going to be like — I knew absolutely nothing about Peruvian football — but I said yes straightaway even before I’d asked my girlfriend.

'Harrogate are a brilliant club but I wanted to be playing full-time football again.’ Within a month the 24-year-old Geordie had swapped the Blue Square Bet North for Peru’s Primera Division. However, even though Solano and his friends had taken care of the paperwork, they forgot to warn Cook about what to expect at the airport.

A far away land: Cook training with Nobby Solano in Peru

A far away land: Cook training with Nobby Solano in Peru

'Nobby’s very famous in Peru and knows everyone in Lima,’ says Cook, who played under Shay Given and Steve Harper at Newcastle. ‘So some guy tapped me on the shoulder and took me through passport control and customs. Visa stamped, straight through.

'But when I came out of the doors I was surrounded by about 40 reporters. I couldn’t see a thing because there were that many flashes.

'At Harrogate the most media attention I got was from the club’s website guy and one or two local papers.’

It was a similar story when Cook accompanied two of his new teammates to a signing session at a supermarket in Lima.

‘It was crazy. There were thousands of fans surrounding me and the other lads. I had to escorted back to the car by eight security guards which I found weird.’ North Shields-born Cook made his debut in front of 35,000 in a 1-0 defeat to Sport Huancayo at the beginning of September, the first of two Primera Division appearances for Universitario. The second, away to Cobresol, taught him what it was like to play at altitude.

A new start: Cook shows off his Universitario shirt

A new start: Cook shows off his Universitario shirt

‘It’s hard to breathe and the ball moves around really quickly because the air’s thinner,’ says Cook. ‘If you play outside Lima it’s like going to a different country. One time we landed and had to drive three hours through desert, another it was through a jungle.

AND HE’S NOT THE ONLY BRIT TO GO ON AN ADVENTURE…

ROHAN RICKETTS

After spells at Arsenal, Tottenham and Wolves, Ricketts embarked on a world tour in 2009, taking in clubs in Canada, Hungary, Moldova, Germany and Ireland before moving to Dempo SC in the Indian I-League in August.

GRANT HOLT

The Norwich frontman has spent most of his career at various English clubs, but in 2001 he made a brief trip to the far east. Holt signed for Singapore side Sengkang Marine before returning to play for Barrow.

LEE HENDRIE

Hendrie made his name playing in midfield for Aston Villa. But after a series of short spells at clubs in the midlands, he moved to Bandung in the Liga Primer Indonesia.

JLLOYD-SAMUEL

After playing for Aston Villa, Bolton and Cardiff, the 31-year-old signed for Esteghlal in the Iranian Pro League.

TERRY COOKE

After struggling to break through at Man Utd, Cooke moved to Manchester City before finding success in the MLS playing for Colorado Rapids. In 2010, he teamed up with manager Tony Adams at Azerbaijan club Gabala.

NICKY BUTT

The former Man Utd and Newcastle midfielder headed to Hong Kong in 2010, signing for South China FC.

ROBERT EARNSHAW

After falling out of favour at Cardiff, the Wales striker joined Israeli side Maccabi Tel Aviv on loan in September 2012.

PAUL IFILL

The former Millwall man plays his football in New Zealand. The 33-year-old left Crystal Palace and signed for Wellington Phoenix in July 2009.

The fans are the best I’ve seen and that’s saying something coming from Newcastle.
'Every game they sing for 90 minutes non-stop, jumping up and down behind the goal, setting off flares and banging their drums.

'Until then, the biggest crowd I’d played in front of was 4,000 for Newcastle reserves.’ Universitario finished the regular season in mid-table but faded after the Primera Division split into two separate leagues for the last 14 games.

'They make the rules up as they go along, to be honest with you,’ says Cook.

'I played about six or seven games altogether including friendlies but I only played twice for the first-team before injuring my finger which meant I couldn’t train for two or three weeks.

'As soon as you get any kind of injury they stick an injection in your bum to make you better. Every time. I don’t know what it was. If you were tired, they stuck a needle in your bum. To be fair, the next day you felt brilliant.’

It was after an exhibition game against fierce rivals Alianza Lima in Miami earlier this month that Solano told his players he might be leaving the club. Shortly after returning to Peru, he was gone.

Solano’s departure has cast doubt over Cook’s future at Universitario. He has flown home to the north-east for Christmas unsure whether he will go back for the new season which starts in February.

'I was massively shocked when Nobby went,’ says Cook. ‘He pulled them out of trouble because they were second bottom and struggling, and then all of a sudden it came out that he wasn’t going to be there any more. I’m not sure if he got sacked or he walked away.

'I still have year left on my contract but they’ve got a new manager in now so I need to speak with him and find out what their plans are for me.

'I’m just enjoying Christmas with my family and then we’ll see what happens.’ Cook and his girlfriend Sarah are already missing their 14th floor apartment in the upmarket area of Miraflores, just two minutes’ walk from the beach.

'I always wanted to be a footballer and I thought I would play in the Football League but nothing massive. It never crossed my mind I’d end up in a place like that in Peru.’

FA Cup Third Round Draw: Swansea v Arsenal and West Ham v Manchester United

Not again! A day after losing at home to Swansea, Arsenal are drawn away to Welsh side in FA Cup as they bid to finally end trophy drought

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UPDATED:

15:33 GMT, 2 December 2012

Arsenal, who are bidding to end eight years without a trophy, must beat Swansea away to have any hope of landing the FA Cup.

Arsene Wenger's side lost 2-0 at home to the Welsh side on Saturday as fans lose patience with the manager.

And they now face a tricky trip to the Liberty Stadium in the third round.

Liverpool will be away to non-league opposition – the winner of the replay between Lincoln and Mansfield.

We meet again: Arsenal will travel to Swansea

We meet again: Arsenal will travel to Swansea

Manchester United travel to West Ham, while holders Chelsea have been draw away to Southampton.

There is a repeat of the 1987 FA Cup final as Andre Villas-Boas' Tottenham will host Mark Robins' Coventry.

Championship table toppers Crystal Palace will play hosts to Premier League Stoke.

There will be plenty of Italian interest at The Etihad as Roberto Mancini's Manchester City will host Gianfranco Zola's high flying Watford.

Play it again: Harrogate and Hastings will replay for the right to face Middlesbrough

Play it again: Harrogate and Hastings will replay for the right to face Middlesbrough

Two of the lowest teams left in the draw, Harrogate Town and Haistings, have Middlesbrough as the prize for whoever wins their replay.

Of the other non-league teams, Barrow or Macclesfield will be at home to Cardiff and Luton will host Wolves.

While Everton face a tricky trip to either Hereford or Cheltenham.

League One Crawley, who have made the fifth round for the past two years, will have to get past struggling Premier League side Reading if they are to embark on another cup run.

Ronnie Moore's Tranmere will test themselves away at Nigel Clough's Derby and Nottingham Forest will play Oldham.

There are a number of all Championship ties with Charlton playing Huddersfield, Barnsley playing Burnley, Blackburn host Bristol City while Leeds will play Bolton.

FA CUP THIRD ROUND DRAW

Crystal Palace v Stoke

Brighton v Newcastle

Tottenham v Coventry

Wigan v Bournemouth

Fulham v Blackpool

Aston Villa v Ipswich

Charlton v Huddersfield

Barrow/Macclesfield v Cardiff

Barnsley v Burnley

Manchester City v Watford

Swansea v Arsenal

Leicester v Burton

Millwall v Preston

Cheltenham/Hereford v Everton

Derby v Tranmere

Crawley v Reading

Aldershot v Rotherham/Notts County

Middlesbrough v Harrogate/Hastings

Accrington/Oxford v Sheffield United

Southampton v Chelsea

QPR v West Brom

Peterborough v Norwich

Lincoln/Mansfield v Liverpool

Bolton v Sunderland

Nottingham Forest v Oldham

West Ham v Manchester United

Hull v Alfreton/Leyton Orient

Blackburn v Bristol City

Leeds v Birmingham

Bury/Southend v Bradford/Brentford

Luton v Wolves

Sheffield Wednesday v MK Dons

Ties will be played over the weekend of January 5 and 6, 2013

FA Cup Second Round draw: AFC Wimbledon could meet MK Dons

Battle of the Dons: FA Cup draw throws together possible clash between AFC and MK

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UPDATED:

20:29 GMT, 4 November 2012

AFC Wimbledon and MK Dons are in line to meet each other for the first time in the second round of the FA Cup – so long as they both win their replays.

AFC Wimbledon have climbed the football pyramid up to League Two since they were formed 10 years ago after the original Wimbledon were essentially franchised to the town of Milton Keynes in 2004.

Neal Ardley's men will travel to the League One side should they beat York City in their first round replay after the two sides drew 1-1.

Possible clash: Karl Robinson's MK Dons could host AFC Wimbledon who are managed by former Dons player Neal Ardley (below)

Possible clash: Karl Robinson's MK Dons could host AFC Wimbledon who are managed by former Dons player Neal Ardley (below)

Here again: Ardley was unveiled as the new AFC Wimbledon manager on Wednesday

While Karl Robinson's Dons need to overcome Cambridge City in their replay too, if they are to host a club set up in protest at the decision to disband Wimbledon and move them 60 miles north of London.

Meanwhile, angry Tranmere fans were charged 5 to park even though their tie against Braintree was postponed. Council staff only offered a 50 per cent refund to supporters who had made the 250-mile journey.

Elsewhere in the draw, non-league Chelmsford have been rewarded for their victory over Colchester with a trip to the Us' npower League One rivals Crawley.

FA CUP SECOND ROUND DRAW

Preston v Gillingham

Bury v Southend

Sheffield Utd v Port Vale

Carlisle v Bournemouth

Crewe v Burton/Altrincham

Northampton/Bradford v Brentford

Luton/Nuneaton v Dorchester

Alfreton v Gloucester/Leyton Orient

Oldham v Doncaster

Braintree/Tranmere v Chesterfield

Rotherham v Notts County

Cheltenham v Hereford

Guiseley/Barrow v Macclesfield

Accrington v Oxford Utd

Lincoln/Walsall v Mansfield/Slough

Harrogate Town v Hastings Utd

Coventry v Morecambe/Rochdale

Cambridge City/MK Dons v York/AFC Wimbledon

Crawley v Chelmsford

Fleetwood Town v Aldershot

Ties to be played on the weekend of the 1/2 of December

Goals from Anthony Cook, Donovan Simmonds and Jamie Slabber helped the Blue Square Bet South outfit to a 3-1 victory On Saturday and they will travel to Broadfield Stadium with a third-round place at stake.

Hereford upset Shrewsbury on Saturday and will next travel to Cheltenham, currently third in League Two, with the clashes set to be played on the weekend of December 1 and 2.

Macclesfield were shock winners over Swindon and they have been drawn to face either Guiseley or Barrow, while Blue Square North team Harrogate upset League Two Torquay and will relish the chance to play the Isthmian Premier Division side Hastings United.

Slough Town, the lowest-ranked side left in the competition, must beat Mansfield in their replay to set up an away clash with Lincoln or Walsall.

Former Sheffield United boss Micky Adams will take his Port Vale side to Bramall Lane in one of the more intriguing ties, League Two leaders Gillingham travel to Preston and Bury welcome Southend.

Carlisle host Bournemouth and Oldham entertain Doncaster in the two League One ties, Crewe await the winner of Burton and Altrincham and Notts County visit Rotherham.

Northampton will welcome Bradford or Brentford, Oxford must travel to Accrington and Fleetwood host Aldershot.

Gloucester City and Leyton Orient's clash as well as Braintree's encounter with League One leaders Tranmere were both postponed and Alfreton and Chesterfield await the respective winners.

Coventry will wait for Morecambe or Rochdale and Dorchester Town will travel to Luton Town or Nuneaton Town.

FA Cup First Round: Macclesfield dump out Di Canio"s Swindon

FA Cup First Round: Macclesfield dump out Di Canio's Swindon

PUBLISHED:

18:01 GMT, 3 November 2012

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UPDATED:

18:02 GMT, 3 November 2012

Non-league Macclesfield pulled off the biggest shock in the first round of the FA Cup when they won 2-0 at League One high-flyers Swindon.

The Silkmen were not the only non-league side to beat Football League teams with Chelmsford, Hereford and Harrogate also moving into the second round at the expense of so-called superior opposition.

Silkmen strike: Macclesfield's Tony Diagne (left) scores his side's first goal

Silkmen strike: Macclesfield's Tony Diagne (left) scores his side's first goal

Macclesfield are sixth in the Blue
Square Bet Conference Premier and they took the lead in the 63rd minute
through a stunning long-range strike from Tony Diagne.

Things went from bad to worse for Paolo di Canio's Robins when moments later Aiden Flynn was sent off for the second
time in four games when he was given a straight red card for a challenge
on Macclesfield midfielder Sam Wedgebury.

The giant-killing over the team just outside the play-offs was sealed when Louis Thompson scored an own goal at the death.

Conference South team Chelmsford beat Colchester – 12th in League One – 3-1.

The hosts went ahead against their
local rivals when Anthony Cook fired home from distance in the 23rd
minute and they moved closer to an upset when Donovan Simmonds headed
into the net in the 63rd minute.

Pride of Essex: Chelmsford City players celebrate with the crowd following their 3-1 win over Colchester

Pride of Essex: Chelmsford City players celebrate with the crowd following their 3-1 win over Colchester

Colchester pulled one back seven
minutes later through Michael Rose's long-range free-kick but Jamie
Slabber sealed victory late on.

Torquay had an unbeaten home record
which had guided them to seventh in League Two but they went down 1-0 to
Harrogate Town. Chib Chilaka scored the only goal after 20 minutes to
send the Conference North side into the second round.

Hereford, 14th in the Conference
Premier, provided the first shock of the day when they dumped out League
One Shrewsbury 3-1 thanks to two goals by Ryan Bowman.

Will Evans gave the hosts a
third-minute lead, slotting Chris Todd's header into the bottom left of
the goal. Hereford doubled their lead nine minutes later through Ryan
Bowman's fierce shot.

Luke Summerfield's free-kick halved the deficit on the half-hour but Bowman's second, a penalty, wrapped up victory.

Lincoln, 19th in the Conference
Premier, were on the brink of an upset when they led League One Walsall
1-0 thanks to Jamie Taylor's strike in first-half injury time.

However, George Bowerman headed an equaliser three minutes from full time.

League Two Rotherham beat Stevenage,
fourth in League One, 3-2. Mark Bradley (30) fired the Millers ahead
with on-loan Lee Frecklington (53, 56) apparently putting the match out
of Stevenage's reach.

James Dunne pulled one back two
minutes later with Filipe Morais making it 3-2 with a little under 20
minutes remaining but the South Yorkshire side held on.

League Two Chesterfield hammered
League One basement side Hartlepool 6-1. Scott Boden (16), Mark Randall
(29) and Craig Clay (42) gave the Spireites a 3-0 half-time lead.

Terrell Forbes (54) made it four and
while Antony Sweeney pulled one back (78), Jack Lester (79) and Craig
Westcarr (90) rounded off a humiliation for the visitors.

Hendon, of the Isthmian League
Premier Division, threatened an upset when they went ahead at League Two
strugglers Aldershot, plumber Dean Cracknell firing an unstoppable
volley (28).

However, Danny Hylton levelled 13 minutes after the break before he powered home a late winner.

Sheffield United were the
highest-ranked team playing today but the team second in League One were
given a scare when David Clarkson took advantage of some slack Blades
defending to put Bristol Rovers ahead in the fifth minute.

However, Nick Blackman equalised
eight minutes after the break with an unstoppable shot across the keeper
and Chris Porter won the game nine minutes later.

Crawley won 2-1 at the Met Police.
Josh Simpson (36) and Billy Clarke (69) put the visitors 2-0 up and
although Alan Tait pulled one back (83), the Isthmian Premier League
side could not nick an equaliser.

League Two high-flyers Port Vale
survived a comeback at Forest Green when the Conference Premier Division
side hit back from two goals down to pull level at 2-2.

Ben Williamson restored the league side's lead against the run of play 10 minutes from time to give them a 3-2 victory.

League Two leaders Gillingham hammered League One strugglers Scunthorpe 4-0.

There were also wins for League One
sides Doncaster, Notts County, Bournemouth, Brentford, Carlisle, Oldham,
Crewe, Coventry, Preston and Bury.

Cheltenham, third in League Two, despatched Yate Town, the lowest-ranked team left in the competition, 3-0.

League Two trio Fleetwood, Oxford
and Accrington all made it through as did Hastings United and Alfreton
from all non-league ties.

There will be replays for York against Wimbledon, Morecambe v Rochdale and Northampton v Bradford.

Guiseley and Barrow will meet again as will Luton and Nuneaton and Mansfield v Slough in all non-league ties.