East Ham, London born centre forward Ernie Cockle began his football career with Green & Siley Weir after the First World War before joining Second Division club Clapton Orient in August 1920, making his Football League debut against Nottingham Forest in October 1920. After 4 goals in 22 appearances for Orient he played for Kent League clubs Margate in 1921 and Maidstone United in 1922 before being signed by First Division Arsenal in May 1923, where he spent 1923-24 without getting a first team opportunity.
Cockle joined Luton Town in May 1924, but had scored once in 7 appearances before transferring to Northampton Town the same December. He was an ever present in 1925-26, starting the season with all 4 goals in a 4-3 win at Brentford and scoring 27 goals in The Cobblers’ campaign, when he was their highest League goalscorer (although Les Robinson’s 6 FA cup strikes left him the leading goalscorer in all matches). Cockle continued as a regular goalscorer but lost his place from the start of the new season and played only once during 1927-28 before transferring to Wigan Borough in June 1928 after 46 goals in 104 appearances for Northampton Town.
At Springfield Park he had two seasons as a first team regular and in March 1929 increasingly appeared in the half back line, before joining Southern League club Guildford City in 1930 after 16 goals in 78 appearances, but he returned to Wigan Borough in September 1931 and made 6 further first team appearances before the club resigned from the League the next month. Cockle moved to non league Chorley where he played until his eventual retirement.