Football Federation Australia (FFA) is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of highly respected football journalist and participant Michael Cockerill.
An esteemed football journalist, expert and commentator, Cockerill dedicated a huge part of his life to the game, covering Australia’s national leagues and teams with distinction for organisations including Fairfax Media, FOX SPORTS, as well as the FFA.
As well as being a tremendous advocate of the game, Cockerill was a passionate football participant. For years Cockerill played for Mosman in the Manly-Warringah Football Association, while in 2017 he was a registered over 45s player for Fraser Park.
Cockerill’s passion for football journalism began when he was 10. As a player for Lane Cove in Sydney, Cockerill would write match reports and keep meticulous records of his games in a scrapbook.
Such was his love of the game, Cockerill’s football journalism hobby was always destined to evolve into a football journalism career.
Stints with the Rockhampton Morning Bulletin, Christchurch Star and Manly Daily provided the pathway for Cockerill to join the Sydney Morning Herald as a full-time football writer in the 1980s.
During his time with the paper Cockerill reported on hundreds of domestic and international matches, attended six FIFA World Cups, and covered three Olympic Games.
Cockerill also made it his mission to help tell the stories of Australians playing their football abroad, and is credited with playing an instrumental role in getting FIFA to change its regulations to allow a once little-known Tim Cahill, then playing with Millwall, to represent Australia after being tied to Samoa on the basis of a fleeting appearance in an Oceania junior tournament.
Cockerill’s sustained coverage kept Cahill’s story in the public domain, and is regarded as a significant factor in FIFA’s decision to allow the Cahill to represent Australia.
FFA Chairman Steven Lowy AM paid tribute to Cockerill: “Mike’s passion for football was immense. He put decades of dedication into doing all that he could as a journalist to bring the game to the people of Australia.
"Without his contribution, football would not have the stature it has in Australia today, which is why he was inducted into FFA’s Hall of Fame. On behalf of the entire football community, I offer sincere condolences to his partner Jo, daughter Daisy, son Toby, as well as his granddaughters.”
FFA Chief Executive Officer David Gallop added: “I spoke to Mike on a regular basis and always admired his love of the history of the game and desire to see it go from strength to strength.
"He particularly supported our decision to get the FFA Cup off the ground. It wasn’t a job with him, it was a mission. My thoughts are with his family, friends and colleagues.”