GLF 17: Davie Cooper

GB looks back at the great man.

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Davie Cooper

I, like many other Motherwell supporters, was stunned to hear of the collapse of Davie Cooper on the way to Easter Rd on 22/3/95 and even more shocked to hear of his death the following day. This is the first time I can remember a player of my generation dying and I have found it all very hard to understand why a man who brought us so much pleasure over 4 years had to be taken from us so suddenly.


Super Cooper joined Motherwell on 11/8/89 from Rangers for
50000 pounds, surely THE bargain of the Century. Davie had become a regular reserve player at Ibrox with the arrival of Mark Walters and the measure of the manwas that even at 33 years old this was unacceptable. Motherwell was seen as a club who could give him an ideal platform once again. Like many other Motherwell supporters I was skeptical about the reasons for his move and that perhaps he had come to Fir Park to see out his days and would not be the type of player to help us out in the lower half of the Premier League. Well I was proved totally wrong as the man did everything in his power to see us finish in our highest league position for many a year, sixth, at the end of season 89/90.

 


During this season we could see his contribution would be immense as he made chances for Cusack (11 league goals) and brought Tommy Boyd to the fore with his passing on the left wing. But 89/90 was only the overture for season 90/91 which saw another sixth place finish and of course our unforgettable cup win in which Davie played a major part. In the 3rd round it was his pass which set up Stevie's shot at Pittodrie, after deceiving the wll by waving him away. The next round saw him produce a rare right foot cross for Cusack to score against Falkirk. Against Morton in two ties which never really suited Davie's style he still contributed by scoring one of our penalties in the shoot-out. Unfortunately Cooper's habit of disagreeing with officials meant he was suspended for the Semi but the team pulled harder to ensure the final place was achieved. In the Final Davie had a quiet game but there was no doubt his experience of the big occasion was vital on the day. I still get goose pimples when I think of the ovation he was given when he was substituted to allow Psycho his two minute appearance.

 


In between all this Davie resurrected his Scotland career which many had predicted would be over when he left Rangers. In fact be only missed Italia 90 due to an injury picked up on the Scotland trip to Malta, this of course would have made him the first 'Well player to appear in the Word Cup finals.

 


The next two seasons were tougher as far as the League was concerned as relegation was always in the forefront of our minds. In particular during the 91/92 season when we had become detached it had become obvious that Davie did not want to finish his career in the top flight in a relegated side. The game against Falkirk that season was one of his finest as he controlled the game from midfield. It was, once again, his through pass to Dougie which led to the winning goal and the start of our decent League run over the last two years.


Davie finally returned to Clydebank in December 1993, where once again he wanted to ensure first team football at the age of 37. I believe that the club cannot underestimate the influence of this genius as player after player appears to confirm in the press: John Gahagan, Phil 0 Donnell, Paul McGrillen etc. He is probably the only true great that many of my generation have seen in a Claret and Amber jersey, and one wonders if we will ever see his like again. Thanks for the wonderful memories and the help in the Great Leap Forward.

Graham Barnstaple

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