Written by Mike Carter, Hull KR Shirts.
Welcome to Getting Shirty With Paul Cooke. I had the opportunity to ask former Hull KR player Paul Cooke some questions about the shirts which he has worn in his Rugby League career.
NAME – Paul Cooke
CLUBS – Hull FC, Hull Kingston Rovers, Wakefield Trinity, Doncaster and Featherstone Rovers
POSITIONS – Stand-Off and Loose Forward
STATS FOR HULL KR – (2007-2010)
HERITAGE NUMBER – #1094
APPEARANCES – 61
TRIES – 9
GOALS – 92
DROP GOALS – 2
(A special thank you to Bryan & Jonathon for providing the stats)
Paul is a local lad who loves his Rugby League. A Challenge Cup winner in 2005, a Grand Finalist in 2006 and a switch across the river in 2007 had everyone talking about one of the most creative players the City of Hull has ever seen. Paul also played for Wakefield, Doncaster and Featherstone in a playing career which spanned almost 400 professional games. I would highly recommend reading Paul’s autobiography Judas! for an insight into the man he was and the man he is now. Paul now gives us an insight into some of the shirts he’s worn in his career.
Getting Shirty With Paul Cooke
MC – Paul, what is your favourite Hull KR shirt you’ve played in?
PC – Firstly I was often a player and person with a high body fat percentage so I wasn’t always keen on tightly fitting shirts. Too much piss-taking and a tight shirt allowed everyone watching to see. Feeble really given I trained for a living!! I enjoyed my life too much with food and alcohol to ever be as ripped as some of the players I played alongside who loved the tight fitting shirts. But at times I had my moments of being very slim in terms of body fat. Usually when I was on a serious training regime and free of alcohol! Although I will say no matter how I looked I was very fit as a player aerobically.
The old-style would be the best for me, but the shirt I put on that night on debut against Huddersfield in 2007 made me proud. I’ve seen so many players run out in red and white as a kid growing up, but I loved that shirt as it was my first for Hull KR.
MC – What is your favourite rugby shirt (excluding Hull KR) you’ve ever played in and why?
PC – It has to be the Hull FC 2005 home shirt at Hull FC. We won a trophy in it, and I love the old style shirts of clubs and teams. The black and white irregular hoop style was my favourite design.
MC – Did you have a preferred squad number to play in?
PC – I didn’t care for any particular number. I guess as a players career progresses the lower number you get, and then when you get into the first 17, that’s massive as you’re then considered a regular. I started at 34/36 I believe when I was a kid and worked my way down to 6 at Hull FC.
MC – I know you said you don’t have a preferred squad number but would you say your squad number should reflect your playing position on the field?
PC – Playing at 6 or 13 was my number, as a player. I believe players in those numbers make things happen. Greats before me have worn those numbers. What an honour it was for me to play after legends in those two squad numbers, especially following in the footsteps of Roger Millward in wearing 6 for Hull Kingston Rovers.
MC – Did you have any superstitions with regards to club kit and getting ready for a game? (One sock on before the other or wouldn’t warm up in playing jersey, for example)
PC – Not really in terms of kit but I only ate tinned spaghetti on toast before a game, 3 hours and 15 mins before kick-off. That was because I found out I needed 3 hours for it to digest. The funny thing is that if I was just 5 minutes past, 3 hours before kick-off (so 2 hours 55 mins) I’d be physically sick after eating it. It was maybe just in my head, it sounds mental but that was always the case.
MC – What is your favourite rugby shirt of all time? (Not necessarily one you’ve played in or for a team you’ve played for but something you appreciate)
PC – I had the Leeds Rhinos 1995 home shirt, I went to watch Leeds play Hull FC at Leeds as I was going to Wembley on a trip to see Wigan v Leeds in the Challenge Cup Final. I loved that Leeds shirt, it looked so good. I loved Ellery Hanley too, I still do, he was my idol growing up. I’m fortunate enough to have spent some serious time with him chatting, he’s a wonderful man.
MC – Do you have a favourite shirt which you’ve acquired in your career?
PC – I’ve never been a collector. I collected plenty for the testimonial I never had at Hull FC, starting a few years before it was due. I had a Darren Lockyer signed State of Origin shirt, which I gave to a charity like everything else I’d bought. I must have spent about £5,000 on items and I just ended up giving it all away!
MC – How many shirts per season would you normally wear as a player?
PC – Generally I’d have two home and two away. If it got ripped to shreds the club would then replace it, but usually two home, two away to last the full season. If the weather changed at half time I had a spare if needed for mud, snow, etc. The club would keep one of each at the end of a season to give to sponsors and we’d get one of each as players to do with as we wished.
MC – This is considerably less than say a footballer who might have between 2 and 4 PER GAME. Would you like more shirts per season?
PC – I’d of liked more shirts but only to be able to give them to charities. A signed playing shirt, rather than a replica would have been better to raise much-needed funds for good causes.
MC – What would normally happen to the shirts you wore, which you got to keep at the end of a season?
PC – I’ve given all mine away, well other than a couple I had for my testimonial. I have a half and half Hull FC and Hull KR shirt from 2007 as a memento on the move from West to East. I also have another half and half Hull FC and Leeds Rhinos shirt to commemorate the 2005 Challenge Cup Final. I have them framed and on the wall in my daughter’s rooms at our home. The other sides of the halves of the shirts are with my sister, she has the Hull FC and Leeds shirt and my cousin has the Hull FC and Hull KR shirt.
MC – At the start of your career it was a generation of loose-fitting shirts and your career has taken a path with a much more fitted style. Which is most comfortable for you when you play?
PC – That would depend on the shape I was in haha. I must say the tight fit is better and lots of players prefer them, but that’s shape dependant. I must admit even Rugby players have a complex about their body type.
MC – When at Hull FC in 2005, you won The Challenge Cup, scoring the winning try against Leeds Rhinos’ what came of the shirt you wore in that game?
I gave it to my brother who’d broken his jaw months earlier in an amateur game. I had a first half-shirt and a second half shirt. My sister or cousin has the first half-shirt, I’m not sure which one of them has it, my brother got the second half-shirt, which is the one I scored the winning try wearing. I later gave it to charity in 2017, after he went travelling. We auctioned it for the Dan Kitching Foundation and Adrian Durham bought it for £1,250, its currently in his home.
That’s everything from Paul Cooke in this Q&A with Hull KR Shirts. I’d just like to once again thank Paul for taking the time to do the Q&A. Paul didn’t know what he had started back in 2012 when he gave me his final playing shirt for Hull KR. This was the catalyst for what today is Hull KR Shirts. The collection is now over 75 match spec shirts strong and still counting. The enjoyment I have from doing all of this was started by the shirt Paul gave me. This is why the debut of Getting Shirty had to belong to Paul Cooke. Thank you mate.
I hope you have enjoyed this edition of Getting Shirty With Paul Cooke. Who else would you like to Hull KR Shirts have a Q&A with? Tag them on this post on Twitter and we’ll see who is interested in getting involved.