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Life and career
Born in Kingston-upon-Thames in 1924, Croker joined the RAF as a pilot in 1942. He sustained injuries in a crash which hampered his later football career. In the late 1940s and 1950s he played as a defender for Charlton Athletic, Dartford, Headington United (later Oxford United) and Kidderminster Harriers.
He lived in Cheltenham in the 1950s, where he founded the heavy machinery company Liner-Croker Ltd. The company, specializing in earth-moving equipment, grew successfully throughout the 1960s. He sold the company in 1973. The Football Association, anxious to improve the commercial aspects of football, appointed him Secretary in 1973 to succeed the retiring Denis Follows. The position was effectively that of Chief Executive, overseeing the day-to-day running of the FA. In 1974, he proposed the current format for the Charity Shield, with the match to be played between the champions of the top division of the Football League (now the Premier League), and FA Cup winners (or first and second in the League if one team wins both) at Wembley Stadium, as an introduction to each new football season. Much of his time at the FA was dogged by problems. The Heysel Stadium Disaster, the Hillsborough Disaster and the demise of the Home International Championship all occurred during his period of leadership.
His autobiography, The First Voice You Will Hear Is, was published on 7 September 1987.
In 1987 he became President of Cheltenham Town, a post that he occupied until his death.†
Towards the end of his career Croker suffered from ill-health. He retired from the Football Association in 1989, to be succeeded by Graham Kelly, who assumed the role of Chief Executive, rather than Secretary. Croker died at the age of 68 on Christmas Day, 1992.
His name is often used as a form of cockney rhyming slang for a joker.
- The First Voice You Will Hear Is..., by Ted Croker, Collins 1987, ISBN 0-00-218086-3
- †Cheltenham Town programme versus Worcester City, January 1993