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Gone but not forgotten:
Grant Cornock
Position: Striker
From: Youth team
Record: Played: 0 Scored: 0
To: ??? - free transfer - June 1999
He was: So near and yet so far

My overwhelming impression of Grant Cornock when he was younger was that he was strong, had a good eye for goal and was a very likeable chap. He carried on scoring goals alongside Tommy Smith in the youth team, some absolute crackers as well. One of the best goals was against Northampton in the FA Youth Cup when, coming back from 2-0 down, we won 6-2. Grant curled it in from the right hand side like a player of true class.

But there was always something missing, and that was the hunger. He only scraped a pro contract at the last minute alongside Mark Boyce and, with his co-striker Tommy Smith to compete with, you'd have thought that the success and attention that Tom was getting would have spurred him on. However as those who frequent the Ice-o-Bar in the evening will testify, the influence of the departed Johnson brothers seemed to be stronger than that of his striking partner.

I just got the feeling that with a little bit more direction in himself he could have made the grade. But his hunger for the game, and his boyhood team Watford who he watched from the family terrace not far from where I used to stand a few years before, seemed to be replaced by his thirst for a party, playing the life of a footballer, without playing the game.

My over-riding memory of Grant will be shortly after that goal against Northampton. I met him in the Ice-o-Bar with Vince Cave and a couple of others. I'd had a few drinks and thought he might like to hear my advice.

"Grant, I've watched you for years, since you were fifteen, and you are good. I even help to sponsor you. But mate, you've got to watch the drinking and the messing about or you'll be released!"

It was a bit like a sinner telling everyone else not to sin, but I don't get paid to play football for my boyhood team.

"You're having a laugh.... no way!" he replied. "I'm a pro!"

He ran off laughing. Not to gloat, but I was right....

Pete Fincham