Davie Cooper: Wikis

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Davie Cooper
Personal information
Full name David Cooper
Date of birth 25 February 1956(1956-02-25)
Place of birth Hamilton, Scotland
Date of death 23 March 1995 (aged 39)
Place of death Cumbernauld, Scotland
Height 1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)
Playing position Winger
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1974–1977 Clydebank 090 (28)
1977–1989 Rangers 377 (49)
1989–1994 Motherwell 157 (17)
1994–1995 Clydebank 021 0(1)
National team
1979–1990 Scotland 022 0(6)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).

David "Davie" Cooper (25 February 1956 – 23 March 1995) was a professional football player. He was a Scotland international and played as a left winger.

He started his career at Clydebank F.C. where he was an instant success, helping the club to the second division championship in 1975-1976. Some of the major clubs began to take notice of his ability and in 1977 he was signed by Rangers manager Jock Wallace for £100,000. With Rangers, Cooper won three League Championships and three Scottish Cups. By season 1988-1989 he was no longer a first team regular and moved to Motherwell for £50,000. He went on to win the Scottish Cup with Motherwell in 1991 before returning to his former club Clydebank in 1994.

He died of a brain haemorrhage on 23 March 1995 whilst he was filming a training video for youngsters.

Contents

Early life

Cooper was born in Hamilton, Scotland on Saturday 25 February 1956. He attended Beckford Street Primary in Hamilton before moving on to Udston Primary, and it was to be at the latter that his talent started to flourish as captain of the school team. He played then at left-half (the equivalent of left midfield in contemporary footballing terms) and at inside left (roughly equivalent to a modern-day deep-lying striker).

Cooper moved up to St. John's Grammar School (now Hamilton Grammar School), which had no team playing before third year. He soon went on to secure a regular starting place with local juvenile team Udston United. As a boy he was a Rangers supporter and when he was not playing it was to Ibrox that he went with his father and brother. His brother, John, had a two year spell with Hull City when he was 16, but he failed to secure a career as a professional footballer.

Cooper himself later moved on to Hamilton Avondale from where he would subsequently sign for Clydebank. He played with the Under-16 team before moving up to Under-18. At the time he was working as an apprentice printer with the brothers who ran Avondale. He had gained a cap for the Scottish Amateur League, but his first International recognition came when he represented his country at Under-18 level against the Home Nations.

Rangers, Motherwell, Clyde and Clydebank, together with English sides Coventry City and Crystal Palace, all expressed an interest in signing the young Cooper. After his brother's less than pleasant experience on Humberside, however, Cooper was hesitant about the step up to professional football. But when he became too old to play for Avondale in the younger age groups, and after having served his apprenticeship as a printer, a career in professional football began to become a more realistic prospect. Cooper's bosses asked Jack Steedman, then the owner of Clydebank, to help persuade the youngster to turn professional. Steedman is said, perhaps apocryphally, to have turned up with the takings from the 'puggy' - the fruit machine - in the 'Bankies' social club as the lure. The sum involved varies, but the story has it that the objective was to "persuade" Cooper to sign. The result was that in the summer of 1974, Cooper became a Clydebank player.

Club career

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Clydebank

Cooper made his debut for Clydebank, as a substitute, against Airdrie in the League Cup, in one of the then mini-leagues around which the competition was organised, which also included St. Mirren and Stirling Albion. The game took place on Saturday 10 August 1974 at Broomfield and it proved to be a rather inauspicious debut for the youngster as the home team won, after leading 1-0 at the break, 4-0. Cooper came on to replace Joe McGovern.

Cooper's full debut came also against Airdrie and again in the Scottish League Cup on Wednesday 28 August, but again Airdrie won, this time by 2-1. The game was also his first appearance at New Kilbowie Park. The 'Bankies' finished bottom of the section.

Cooper's Scottish League debut came in the Second Division, in the last season before League re-construction, on Saturday, 31 August. The game was against Queen of the South at Palmerston Park, with the 'Bankies' going down 3-0 at the hands of the 'Doonhamers'. He was left on the bench for the visit of Stranraer in midweek and although he replaced Norrie Hall he was unable to help the Bankies win as they recorded their second 3-0 defeat in two games. After that he drifted out of the team and it was not until the end of October that he became an almost permanent fixture in the Clydebank line-up.

Cooper first played on the winning side for the Bankies on 30 November, when Clydebank beat Cowdenbeath at Kilbowie by 2-1. His first goal for the Bankies came two games later when, again at Kilbowie, he scored the third goal in the 4-1 defeat of Alloa Athletic. Cooper ended the season with 29 starts, 2 as a sub, and scored 5 goals.

In the 1975-76 season, the Bankies led from the off in the 26 game Second Division and Cooper was one of four ever-presents that season, He was amongst the goals that season too, finishing top of the Clydebank list with 13 in the League, three of which were penalties. His first hat-trick in Senior football included two penalties on a dark and cold Saturday, as the Bankies defeated Alloa Athletic 3-1. Cooper played in all of the Bankies 49 games that season, scoring 22 goals and seeing the club promoted to the First Division.

In the League, the Bankies were the only real rivals to a superbly talented young St. Mirren side, steered by an inexperienced and fiery manager by the name of Alex Ferguson. The season involved a 6-0 win at Bayview and the Bankies record victory of 8-1 over Arbroath at New Kilbowie when Cooper scored his second and final hat-trick for the Bankies.

The Bankies eventually sealed promotion to the Premier Division in the fourth last game of the season with a memorable win over Dundee. Clydebank finished runners-up to St. Mirren and became the first Scottish team to be promoted in successive seasons. Cooper's last goal for the Bankies was against Raith Rovers in a 2-0 win at New Kilbowie on 23 April 1977. His last game was at Brockville in a 4-2 win, a week later.

Rangers

Cooper was included in the Scotland squad for the Home International Championship and the trip to South America, but immediately before he left for Chile, he signed for Rangers. The fee involved was £100,000 and it was reported that he received a signing on fee of £10,000 and was on a wage of £150 per week.

Cooper made a good start to his Ibrox career, he appeared in 52 of Rangers 53 matches in the 1977-78 season, as Jock Wallace's side won the domestic treble. His first league goal for Rangers came against St Mirren at Love Street on 17 September 1977 in a 3-3 draw, his last goal came almost exactly eleven years later also against St Mirren. His first Ibrox goal for the club came a fortnight later in a 4-1 win against Clydebank and he went on to notch another in the same match direct from a corner kick. He went on to score eight goals in total during his first season.

The following season Rangers retained both cups with Cooper making 49 appearances and scoring ten goals. Cooper scored an outrageous and widely remembered goal against Celtic in the 1979 Drybrough Cup Final. He took the ball on his chest with his back to the goal, then proceeded to beat four defenders while playing keepie uppie, before slipping the ball into the back of the net. This goal was voted the greatest ever Rangers goal by fans.

The 1979-80 season was the first of only three seasons during his time at Ibrox that the club failed to win a trophy, with their final league position of 5th not winning the club a place in European competition. Aberdeen won the Premier Division, Celtic the Scottish Cup beating Rangers in the Final and Dundee United the League Cup.

The summer of 1980 almost saw the end of Cooper's Rangers career as Brighton's Alan Mullery put in a bid for both Cooper and Gordon Smith. Greig however would only let one go and Mullery plumped, perhaps wrongly, for Smith.

The following season (1980-81) was to be, in the main, another disappointing one for Cooper, as John Greig used the his talent sparingly in league matches (starting fewer than half the games) and even more sporadically in the Scottish Cup. He was recalled to the starting line-up for the final replay against Dundee United and promptly tore United to shreds as Rangers regained the Cup. This was to be Davie's last Scottish Cup winners medal for the Ibrox side.

1981-1982 saw Cooper start his 21st consecutive League Cup tie for Rangers as they won through to the Final to defeat the holders, Dundee United, who were going for a hat-trick of victories in the competition. His only goal in the Ibrox side's 11 ties came in the Final. Coop' also returned to the manager's plans in the League missing only 6 fixtures as Rangers finished third.

The end of the season brought the club's 7th successive Scottish Cup Final but they suffered a 4-1 drubbing at the hands of Aberdeen. However, it saw yet another medal to add to the Cooper collection.

The 1982-83 term saw two significant landmarks in the Cooper career: His first hat-trick for Rangers (in a Sectional League Cup tie against Kilmarnock) and his first and only European goal, netted against Borussia Dortmund at Ibrox, in the UEFA Cup. That season was also to prove to be his most prolific goalscoring season for the club, netting 12 times in all competitions. Despite this, it was to prove yet another season without trophies. Although Rangers reached both Cup Finals, Celtic were victorious in the League Cup and Aberdeen, for the second successive year, secured the Scottish Cup.

The following two seasons (1983-84 and 1984-85) saw Davie succeed again in the League Cup, wrapping up winners medals No 4 and No 5. The Rangers management changed, with Jock Wallace returning to Ibrox in place of John Greig. In hindsight, Greig's treatment of Cooper's mercurial skills was widely held to have been ineffective.

Rangers, despite Cooper missing only six matches during this time, continued to disappoint in the Premier Division, securing only fourth in the table on each occasion.

With the arrival of Graeme Souness as Rangers manager in April 1986, optimism was high for the following campaign and Cooper was to play a major part once more. The League Cup returned to Ibrox with victory over Celtic in the Final of 1986-1987, the winner coming from the penalty spot after referee Davie Syme adjudged that Terry Butcher was impeded by Roy Aitken thus he pointed to the spot and it was netted by Davie Cooper. After a hesitant start, Rangers won the League championship for the first time in 9 years. Cooper not only set up a substantial fraction of Rangers goals, but netted 8 in league matches himself.

The 1987-88 season saw Cooper again produce the unexpected on the Hampden stage in the League Cup Final, with an unstoppable free-kick to net Rangers first goal in the 3-3 draw against Aberdeen. The Ibrox side eventually won 5-3 on penalties and so Cooper was able to claim his seventh winners medal. Celtic claimed the other two domestic trophies in their Centenary season.

In his last season at Ibrox, Cooper became increasingly frustrated as Graeme Souness used his talents sparingly and often favoured Mark Walters as his first-choice winger. This lack of first-team games was to lead to his leaving the club. Davie Cooper's career as a Rangers player began to draw to a close at Hampden in May 1989 in another Scottish Cup Final, as Rangers chased their first treble in 11 years. Unfortunately for Cooper, who appeared as a substitute, a Joe Miller goal retained the cup for Celtic.

At the beginning of the 1988-89 season (Tuesday 9 August 1988), Cooper's testimonial match against Girondins de Bordeaux saw over 43,000 spectators watch Rangers win 3-2 with Butcher, Drinkell and McCoist netting for Rangers. Cooper finished his Rangers career with 75 goals in 540 appearances. When asked to describe the highlight of his time at Rangers, he simply responded "I played for the team I loved."

Motherwell

Although he did not want to leave Rangers, the lure of regular first team football persuaded him to sign for former team-mate Tommy McLean at Motherwell in August 1989. In his four and a half seasons at Fir Park, Davie played over 150 times for the "Steelmen" and was instrumental in the club winning its first major trophy in 39 years, in the epic Scottish Cup Final of 1991 which saw Dundee United defeated 4-3 after extra-time. The move also revived Cooper's Scotland career and he earned another four caps before injury put paid to his chances of going to the 1990 World Cup Finals in Italy.

Return to Clydebank

While with Motherwell, Cooper had been working in a coaching capacity with the reserve and youth sides. In December 1993 he returned to Clydebank as a player, but also to assist in coaching duties. As in his first period at the club, Cooper began on the losing side as Clydebank lost 0-2 to Ayr United at New Kilbowie on 4 January 1994. In 1993-94 he played in a total of 20 games, including sixteen starts and four as a substitute. In 1994-95 he was almost an ever-present in the side, until the start of February when he played against Hearts in the Scottish Cup Third Round Replay at Tynecastle on 7 February 1995. But despite the Bankies best efforts they were unable to overcome the Edinburgh team. That was Cooper's last First XI appearance. The last goal he scored was against Airdrie in the League Cup Semi-Final - typically it was a first class strike. Cooper made his last appearance in a Clydebank jersey in a reserve fixture at New Kilbowie on 21 February 1995 against Hamilton Academical.

International career

The 1976-77 season saw Cooper make his international debut for Scotland's under-21s. It came in the Czech town of Pilsen. Cooper played alongside the likes of Roy Aitken, George Burley and John Wark in a 0-0 draw. His cap that October night meant that he missed the Clydebank game Brockville the only match he missed all season. He secured another three caps that season - against Wales, Switzerland and England.

Cooper had become a regular in the Scotland team where, prior to the 1986 World Cup, he had played in 11 straight games. He played in the crucial match against Wales at Ninian Park, coming on as substitute for Gordon Strachan and scoring the penalty that took Scotland another step on the road to Mexico. The night also brought sadness as Jock Stein, the Scotland manager, died.

Scotland had to beat Australia for the privilege to cross the Atlantic and Cooper was on the score sheet in the 2-0 win. Cooper, who had been prominent in the run up to the World Cup, was employed sparingly by Alex Ferguson in Mexico, making just two appearances.

International goals

Scores and results list Scotland's goal tally first.
# Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1 28 February 1984 Hampden Park, Glasgow  Wales 1-0 2-1 British Home Championship
2 12 September 1984 Hampden Park, Glasgow  Yugoslavia 1-0 6-1 Friendly match
3 10 September 1985 Ninian Park, Cardiff  Wales 1-1 1-1 FIFA World Cup 1986 qualifying
4 20 November 1985 Hampden Park, Glasgow  Australia 1-0 2-0 FIFA World Cup 1986 Play-off
5 12 November 1986 Hampden Park, Glasgow  Luxembourg 1-0 3-0 UEFA Euro 1988 qualifying
6 12 November 1986 Ullevaal Stadion, Oslo  Luxembourg 2-0 3-0 UEFA Euro 1988 qualifying

Death

The Davie Cooper Stand (left) at Fir Park, Motherwell.

Cooper suffered a brain haemorrhage on 22 March 1995 at Broadwood Stadium where he and former Celtic, Arsenal and Aberdeen Scottish international Charlie Nicholas were recording a coaching film for youngsters. He died in hospital the next day. He was 39 years old.

His funeral took place at Hillhouse Parish Church, Hamilton on Monday 27 March 1995, and he was buried in the town's Bent cemetery.

Cooper is remembered as one of the most significant players in the histories of Clydebank, Rangers and Motherwell football clubs. In his tribute to Cooper, the then Rangers manager, Walter Smith, said that "God gave Davie Cooper a talent. He would not be disappointed with how it was used."

After Cooper's death, Motherwell re-named Fir Park's North Stand in his honour.

The 2005 Scottish League Cup Final between Rangers and Motherwell paid tribute to Cooper's memory. Ticket stubs had an image of him printed on them, and a percentage of the programme sales went towards establishing a centre for special needs children. [1][2]

References

External links


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