Mitchell Cole

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Mitchell Cole
Mitchell Cole York City v. Stevenage Borough 03-10-09.png
Cole playing for Stevenage in 2009
Personal information
Full name Mitchell James Cole[1]
Date of birth (1985-10-06)6 October 1985
Place of birth London, England
Date of death 1 December 2012(2012-12-01) (aged 27)
Height 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)[2]
Playing position Midfielder
Youth career
2001–2003 Norwich City
2003–2004 West Ham United
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2004–2005 Grays Athletic 35 (5)
2005–2007 Southend United 33 (1)
2006 Northampton Town (loan) 8 (1)
2007–2010 Stevenage Borough 121 (20)
2010–2011 Oxford United 4 (0)
2011 Stotfold 2 (0)
2011 Hitchin Town 11 (1)
2011–2012 Biggleswade Town 6 (1)
2012 Arlesey Town 10 (1)
National team
2005–2009 England C 14 (7)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 22:00, 20 March 2012 (UTC).

† Appearances (Goals).

‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 03:17, 14 August 2009 (UTC)

Mitchell James Cole (6 October 1985 – 1 December 2012) was an English footballer. Cole was forced to retire from professional football in 2011 as a result of a deteriorating heart condition, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, that meant it was dangerous for him to continue playing competitive football.

Cole started his career at West Ham United, but was released in 2004. He joined Grays Athletic shortly after, and enjoyed a successful season with the club, winning the Conference South title as well as the FA Trophy. He joined Southend United in 2005, spending a year and a half at the club before signing for Stevenage Borough for an undisclosed fee in January 2007. Cole's tenure at Stevenage was a successful one, scoring in the first ever competitive final at the new Wembley Stadium as Stevenage beat Kidderminster Harriers 3–2 to lift the FA Trophy in May 2007. He also helped the club on the way to winning the FA Trophy once again in May 2009. Cole was part of the club's successful 2009–10 campaign, as Stevenage secured promotion to the Football League for the first time in the club's history.

In June 2010, Cole signed for League Two side Oxford United, playing a handful of games before retiring from professional football in February 2011. Ahead of the 2011–12 campaign, Cole played for Stotfold, playing one competitive game for the club in August 2011. Shortly after, he joined Hitchin Town of the Southern League Premier Division, but was released by the club in November 2011. He subsequently signed for Southern Football League side Biggleswade Town, before joining Arlesey Town in January 2012.

Club career[edit]

Early career[edit]

Born in London, Cole started his football career at Norwich City's centre of excellence, based in Potters Bar, Hertfordshire.[3] When the centre was closed, Cole joined West Ham United's academy.[3]

Cole was quickly snapped up by Mark Stimson, who managed Essex outfit Grays Athletic.[4] He impressed during the 2004–05 season and helped Grays achieve promotion from the Conference South to the Conference National, scoring five goals in 35 appearances.[5] Cole also started in the FA Trophy Final against Hucknall Town at Villa Park in the same season; a game in which Grays won on penalties.[6] Cole's performances did not go unnoticed and he subsequently signed for Essex neighbours Southend United in July 2005 for an undisclosed fee.[7] He made his Southend debut in the club's opening game of the 2005–06 season, starting in a 2–1 defeat against Port Vale at Roots Hall.[8] He continued to impress under manager Steve Tilson and featured in 31 games for the club in the same season.[9][10] He scored his only Southend goal in a 3–1 win over rivals Colchester United,[11] and helped Southend achieve promotion to the Championship.[12]

The following season, Cole became increasingly frustrated with the lack of first-team appearances at the beginning of Southend's 2006–07 Championship campaign, and was subsequently loaned out to Northampton Town for a month.[13] Cole made his Northampton debut in a 3–1 defeat against Tranmere Rovers at Sixfields.[14] After extending his loan deal for a further month,[15] Cole went on to make seven more appearances for the Midlands based outfit, scoring one goal against Millwall in a 1–0 away victory.[16] He returned to Southend in November 2006, and made three more appearances for the club before his run was curtailed by injury.[17]

Stevenage[edit]

Cole found it increasingly hard to break into the first-team at Southend, and subsequently joined Conference National side Stevenage Borough for a five-figure fee in January 2007.[18] The move reunited him with Mark Stimson, who had previously managed Cole at Grays.[18] He made his Stevenage debut as a substitute in a 1–1 draw at Stonebridge Road against Ebbsfleet United on 28 January 2007.[19] Cole went on to make 22 more appearances during the 2006–07 season, scoring three times for the Hertfordshire side,[20] his first goal for the club coming in a 4–4 away draw against Forest Green Rovers in April 2007.[21] Despite narrowly missing out on the play-offs, Cole helped guide the team to FA Trophy success in May 2007. He scored Stevenage's first goal in a 3–2 win in the final over Kidderminster Harriers at Wembley Stadium in front of 53,262 spectators, a game in which Stevenage came from two goals behind to become the first team to win a competitive final at the new stadium.[22] Cole's goal came just after half-time; collecting Steve Morison's flick-on before finishing calmly to start the comeback.[23] The following season, Cole struggled with a persistent knee injury,[24] but still managed to make 26 appearances.[25] The 2008–09 season witnessed an injury-free season for Cole, who enjoyed his most fruitful season under manager Graham Westley, scoring fourteen times from midfield, including the first competitive hat-trick of his career in a 4–2 win away at Salisbury City.[26][27] In April 2009, Cole pledged his future to Stevenage by signing a two-year contract extension at Broadhall Way.[28]

During the 2009–10 season, Cole was less prolific in front of goal throughout the first half of the season, scoring his first goal of the season in a 2–0 victory over Kidderminster Harriers in December 2009.[29] He also showed his versatility when he was forced to play two games at left-back as opposed to his usual left wing position in January 2010.[30] He scored his second professional hat-trick for Stevenage the following month, in a 6–0 win away at Eastbourne Borough, coming on as a substitute in the 71st minute and scoring his three goals in seven minutes.[31] Although Cole struggled for fitness for parts of the season, he still featured in 42 games, scoring four goals – and was an integral part of the squad as Stevenage won promotion to the Football League for the first time in the club's history.[32][33][34] During his successful three-and-a-half-year spell with the club, Cole made 146 appearances in all competitions, scoring 23 times.[35]

Oxford United[edit]

In June 2010, Cole joined newly promoted League Two team Oxford United on a two-year contract.[36] He made his Oxford debut in the club's 2–1 home defeat against Bury on 14 August 2010, coming on as an 81st minute substitute.[37] Cole started his first game for Oxford ten days later, playing 45 minutes in the club's 1–0 League Cup defeat to West Ham.[38] Cole played a total of six games for Oxford in all competitions, with his last appearance coming in a 3–2 defeat to Macclesfield Town on 16 October 2010.[39]

Retirement[edit]

In February 2011, Cole's career ended prematurely when Oxford United announced that he had been forced to retire due to a serious heart condition.[40] His condition is known as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, an irregular thickness of the heart in certain areas.[41] During his time at West Ham, at the age of 17, Cole discovered he had a heart condition, but continued to play as his condition gradually improved.[42] However, in November 2010, Cole began to suffer from shortness of breath during training and matches, and was subsequently advised by a leading cardiologist to stop playing competitive football to avoid the risk of a serious heart episode.[42] On retiring, Cole said "It's like being hit by a ton of bricks because football is all I've ever known. I've managed to get eight years out of the professional game which I am extremely happy with".[42]

Return to semi-professional football[edit]

Ahead of the 2011–12 season, Cole played in a number of pre-season friendlies for Stotfold of the Spartan South Midlands League. He played in the club's first competitive game of the season, a 2–0 home win over Oxhey Jets.[43][44] Two days later, on 15 August 2011, Cole joined Hitchin Town on non-contract terms, who play in the Southern League Premier Division.[45] He made his debut for the club on the same day, playing 65 minutes in Hitchin's 3–0 home victory against Hemel Hempstead Town.[46] Due to the fact that Cole signed for Hitchin on a non-contract basis, he played in Stotfold's 2–1 home win against St. Margaretsbury the following day.[47] Cole scored his first goal for Hitchin in a 3–1 away victory over Bedford Town on 29 August, beating goalkeeper Ian Brown at the second time of asking.[48] He was released by Hitchin on 17 November 2011.[49] Cole made 14 appearances for the club, scoring once.[50]

Shortly after leaving Hitchin Town, Cole joined Biggleswade Town, who play in the Division One Central of the Southern League. He made his debut for the club on 19 November, coming on as a substitute in a 1–1 home draw with Slough Town.[51] He went on to make six appearances for Biggleswade,[52] scoring one goal,[52][53] before joining Arlesey Town in January 2012.[54]

International career[edit]

Cole was called up to the England C team, who represent England at non-League level, at the age of 17, in February 2005, for a friendly against Holland.[55] He was then chosen to represent his country for the Four Nations Tournament hosted in Scotland in May 2007.[56] He scored a hat-trick in a 5–0 win in the opening fixture against a Republic of Ireland XI,[57] and ended as the tournament's top scorer after scoring his fourth goal a 3–0 win against Wales.[58] He continued his fine form for the England C side, scoring the only goal in a 1–0 victory over Finland C in June 2007.[59] He added to his tally when he scored the winning goal in both games against Wales XI and Gibraltar in 2008.[60][61] Cole was subsequently called up for the England C tour of the Caribbean in June 2008,[62] in which Cole played both games against Grenada and Barbados respectively.[63][64] In the 2008–09 season, Cole played in the 6–2 defeat to Bosnia and Herzegovina A team.[65] He also made further appearances against Italy C and Malta in the same season.[66] Cole's seven goals in 14 appearances makes him the non-League national side's second-highest goalscorer of all-time.[67]

Personal life[edit]

Cole had three children with his wife, Charly, who is the sister of fellow professional footballer and England international Joe Cole.[68][69] Charly gave birth to their third child, daughter Leni, on 7 December 2012, just six days after Cole's death.[70]

Death[edit]

Cole died on 1 December 2012, aged 27.[71]

Tributes were widely paid to Cole following his death.[72][73][74][75][76][77] Cole's first club, Grays Athletic, released a statement — "He is best remembered for his rampaging runs down the left wing, and for scoring some spectacular goals".[73] Stevenage chairman Phil Wallace also paid tribute — "It's such a sad, tragic loss of a young life. Mitch was a key figure for us in the seasons that saw us enjoy a lot of success. We all knew of his condition but it's simply devastating that a young family with such spirit is taken from us so suddenly".[78] Former England C manager Paul Fairclough, who once stated Cole had "the potential to be the new Ryan Giggs",[79] said he was "shattered" by the news of Cole's death.[80] In an emotional tribute, Fairclough went on to say — "Off the pitch Mitch was fun to be around. He had an amazing outlook on life with a wicked sense of humour. He was admired and respected by people of all ages. He had time for everyone; from the tiny tots to senior football people. He was uncomplicated, extremely approachable and would chat with all types. I cannot believe this bright eyed young man has been taken from us".[80]

Grays Athletic held a minute's silence ahead of their game against Ware on the same day,[76] while Oxford United players wore black armbands during their 3–3 draw with Accrington Stanley.[81][82] Without a first-team match on the day of Cole's death, Stevenage fans paid tribute to Cole by applauding on the 21st minute, the number he wore during his time at the club, during the club's 2–1 FA Youth Cup win over Wigan Athletic.[83] The following day, AFC Wimbledon players wore armbands with 'Mitch' written on them, during their televised FA Cup tie against Milton Keynes Dons.[84] Wimbledon striker Jack Midson dedicated his goal to Cole — "The goal meant a lot to me because my friend Mitchell Cole died".[84][85] Ahead of Oxford United's first home match since Cole's death, against Aldershot Town on 8 December 2012, Oxford United players warmed up in commemorative T-shirts reading "Team Mates Forever – Cole 17".[86] There was also a minute's applause in tribute to Cole before the match.[86][87][88] Norwich City striker Steve Morison paid tribute to Cole after scoring in the club's League Cup quarter-final tie against Aston Villa on 11 December, lifting up his shirt in celebration to reveal a T-shirt — "RIP Mitchell Cole". The pair had played together, and formed a successful partnership, during their time at Stevenage.[89] Stevenage paid a host of tributes to Cole during their first home match since his death, a game against Crawley Town on 15 December, with all Stevenage players and staff wearing white T-shirts with "Cole – 21" on the back prior to the match.[90] A minute's silence was held before kick-off, and both sets of supporters clapped during the 21st minute of the match.[90] The following day, Cole was remembered, along with a number of sportspeople who died in 2012, during the 2012 BBC Sports Personality of the Year award ceremony.[91]

Stevenage chairman Phil Wallace announced that the club had planned a benefit match for Cole, to be played at Broadhall Way in May 2013.[78][92] The club later announced that the match would take place on Tuesday 7 May 2013 at Broadhall Way.[93] The match was between a Mitchell Cole XI and a Stevenage XI,[93] with two of Cole's former managers Mark Stimson and Graham Westley managing the two teams.[93] A crowd of over 2,300 turned out to watch the Cole XI side win 7–4.[94] Among those playing in the match were brother-in-law Joe Cole, as well as James Collins, Andy Carroll, Gary Hooper, Matt Jarvis and Kevin Nolan.[94] Both teams were also made up of many of Cole's former team-mates from a number of his previous clubs.[95] Proceeds from the match were split between the Cole family and its chosen charity, The Cardiomyopathy Association.[93]

Honours[edit]

Grays Athletic
Southend United
Stevenage

Career statistics[edit]

Club Season League[A] FA Cup League Cup Other[B] Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Grays Athletic
2004–05
35 5 0 0 3 2 8 1 46 8
Total 35 5 0 0 3 2 8 1 46 8
Southend United
2005–06[96]
29 1 2 0 1 0 0 0 32 1
2006–07[97]
4 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 5 0
Total 33 1 2 0 2 0 0 0 37 1
Northampton Town
2006–07[98]
8 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 9 1
Total 8 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 9 1
Stevenage Borough
2006–07[20][99]
19 2 0 0 0 0 6 1 25 3
2007–08[25][100]
26 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 27 2
2008–09[26][101]
42 12 3 1 0 0 6 1 50 14
2009–10[32][102]
34 4 3 0 0 0 6 0 43 4
Total 121 20 7 1 0 0 18 2 146 23
Oxford United
2010–11[103]
4 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 6 0
Total 4 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 6 0
Stotfold
2011–12[43]
2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0
Total 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0
Hitchin Town
2011–12[50]
11 1 1 0 0 0 2 0 14 1
Total 11 1 1 0 0 0 2 0 14 1
Biggleswade Town
2011–12[52]
6 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 6 1
Total 6 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 6 1
Arlesey Town
2011–12[104]
10 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 10 1
Total 10 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 10 1
Career totals 230 30 10 1 6 2 30 3 276 36
A. ^ The "League" column constitutes appearances and goals (including those as a substitute) in the Football League, Football Conference, Spartan South Midlands League, and Southern Football League
B. ^ The "Other" column constitutes appearances and goals (including those as a substitute) in the FA Trophy and Football League Trophy.

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External links[edit]