Davie Cooper

By Adam Robertson
 September 17, 2020

Davie Cooper - Come on, Davie!

Davie Cooper - Come on, Davie!

18 October 1986. It’s been six months since Graeme Souness arrived at Rangers and sparked his very own “revolution”. It has been a relatively inauspicious start to this so called revolution, however, and by the time Rangers roll up to Brockville on this mid-October day to face Falkirk, they have already lost three games to Hibs, Dundee Utd and Dundee. 

My first taste of this new Rangers side came a month earlier in a 4-0 win at Ibrox against Clydebank. Robert Fleck scored a hatrick, with Ted McMinn notching the other. 

My next glimpse was the game a couple of weeks later when Souness and his side secured a 2-0 win over Alex Ferguson’s Aberdeen. This game was the first time I had really seen Ibrox rocking in belief after years of mid-table mediocrity – and it was a sight to behold. It also provided the evidence that the tide was turning for Rangers, and momentum and belief were building after that shaky start. 

Rangers’ trip to Brockville presented the next opportunity for me to see this new Rangers side as I had moved to the town about 18 months before. My dad secured tickets and we made the short journey to the ground. 

We entered via the Hope St end, traditionally the home end, but there was plenty of Rangers supporters in this section of the ground. As kick-off approached, it became apparent that there were too many supporters in that part of the ground, and a crush started to develop. It became so bad that police and stewards moved in to pull fans from the terracing and place them on the touchline. The situation became so serious that the decision was made to close the ground and not allow any more supporters in – a big decision when you consider that it was an all ticket game and the hundreds of supporters locked out had legitimate tickets for the game. 

I was one of the supporters pulled from the terracing and placed at the corner flag of the Hope St end. It genuinely felt quite scary at the time, but the overcrowding incident led to one of my most memorable moments as a Rangers supporter. 

As Rangers entered the field just before 3pm, sporting their classic white Umbro away kit of the time, the excitement reached fever pitch. But while most directed their adulation to new boys like Chris Woods and Terry Butcher, I still only had eyes for one man – Davie Cooper. 

Cooper was my boyhood hero. As a boy Rangers were a struggling side, and in a period where there were a lot of dark days, Cooper remained a shimmer of light. Something to look forward to when you went to Ibrox, and something to brag about when the most of the bragging rights lay with supporters of Aberdeen, Celtic and Dundee United. 

My memories of Cooper are strong. In one game against Dundee Utd in January 1985, I was sat in the Govan front, frozen and bored senseless as a drab 0-0 draw unfolded. The only thing that got my bum off my seat that day was Cooper’s performance. He ran riot. In one piece of outrageous skill on the touchline right in front of me, he approached Eamonn Bannon and Maurice Malpas, who were doubling up on him every time he received the ball. Not to be outdone, however, 

Cooper popped the ball through one of their legs, ran between the pair and went on to get his cross into the box whilst Bannon and Malpas sheepishly questioned what had just happened to them. 

Another favourite moment from Cooper, despite not being at the game, was when Rangers managed to come away from Celtic Park with a more than credible 1-1 draw in December 1984. As was the custom for games we weren’t attending, my dad and I listened to it on the radio. Despite being huge underdogs, Rangers performed magnificently but trailed for most of the game through an 11th minute Brian McClair goal. A perfectly good goal by John MacDonald was disallowed, Cammy Fraser managed to miss a penalty that Cooper had won and, yet again, it seemed that Rangers were set to lose to their Old Firm rivals. Then Cooper stepped up. 

With four minutes left on the clock Ted McMinn floated in a cross. Pat Bonner came off his line when he shouldn’t have, his weak punch landed at Cooper who chested it, set himself and then struck it past Bonner and two despairing defenders on the line. My dad and I jumped about the kitchen as if we’d won the lottery. Yet again, Cooper had contributed to my Rangers supporting life. Watching the highlights on the telly that night was a joy. As Cooper ran away to celebrate, he was hoisted up by a teenage Derek Ferguson as Archie Macpherson hollered: “Davie Cooper gets the goal for Rangers, which they so thoroughly deserve at this stage!” 

Back to that October day at Brockville and Cooper would produce another memory as Rangers romped to a 5-1 win thanks to a goals from Cooper himself, McCoist and yet another Robert Fleck hatrick. But it wasn’t Cooper’s goal that provided the memory, it was when he came over to take a corner at the trackside I had been placed at to avoid the crush in the terracing. 

As he placed the ball and looked into the penalty area for the spot he was aiming to hit with almost missile guidance accuracy, I patted him on the back and said “Come on, Davie!”. I don’t recall him acknowledging me in any meaningful way, but the fact that I had touched the great man was enough for my 13 year old self to go home very happy indeed. 

Like so many football grounds of old, Brockville is no more and the spot where I managed to get close enough to Cooper to touch him is now a car park for a Morrisons supermarket. It is not uncommon for me to point it out to my kids and tell them “I patted Davie Cooper on the back there” as we collect the weekly shop. They don’t care – but it means a lot to me and that’s all that matters. 

It was once said of Cooper, a humble and shy boy from Hamilton, that he did not have a mercenary bone in his body. How he lived his life, refusing early interest from club’s in England’s top flight to secure a move to Ibrox when wages there were far more modest than they are today, would back up that claim. Cooper was a home bird, happiest when he was in the company of close friends and family, and dedicated to the club he supported as a boy.

Colin Armstrong - @moonman1873

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