Growing up in the 80's, Davie was my footballing idol. I was a huge supporter of the national team and he came to my attention this way rather than through Clydebank or Rangers. The Wales and Australia matches in '85 were big moments to me. From then on I followed his career right through to the end.
There are a few other Cooper books out there, i'll be honest I haven't read any of them so I can't really compare. I've heard all the stories and the rumours about him but this book really brings some truth and perspective to these rumours. The foreword is by Ally McCoist and puts paid to some of these even before starting the book. As someone who knew him and played alongside him for many years this really does give the book some creedence right from the start.
As well as the interviewees stated in the description there are also 'anonymous' interviewees who shed some light on the nadir of Davie's career during the Greig management years. I assume these people have remained anonymous as they are probably ex players/staff that still have history with the club and don't want to be seen criticising decisions or other individuals who are also still connected. This is very interesting reading though, if Davie had been a different kind of guy he wouldn't have put up with it and he'd have been playing his football elsewhere in the early 80's. But he wasn't a career player, he was quite happy living in his hometown and going home at the end of each day.
All the facets of his career are covered and include some great photos inside. Sometimes posthumous biographies can be too gushy and have rose tinted spectacles when it comes to the past. I didn't find that with this book, I thought the balance was just right. In saying that, the latter half of the book did just feel like someone summarizing all the important games that Coop played in. Davie had his critics as well as admirers back then and the debate about whether he shoulda/coulda/woulda won more caps or played in Europe/England will rage forever. That fact that people still debate this shows how highly regarded he was as a player.
There are a few errors with regards to players being mentioned in games that they didn't play in, or were supposedly bought by manager A but in actual fact were bought by manager B. These mistakes shouldn't have been made really. I hadn't noticed some of them but they've been pointed out to me by others.
PS. As a side note, the softback cover uses a great, intense shot of him in Scotland top and tracksuit. Anybody that had the Panini Mexico 86 album will recognise the fact that its the same photo they used for his sticker! Took me weeks to get that sticker, treated it like gold dust.
I was preparing to leave Deepcut Barracks on route back to Bosnia via fallingbostel with a big yorkshire lad who supported Leeds but loved Rangers, he had his Rangers top on, the fire officer for the camp was a distance away and was shouting and waving towards us, as we got closer we saw he was in tears, which we would be as well, he told us Davie Cooper had died, i phoned home no answer i phoned my Mum`s work it was true, how sad a great player, as for the certain Rangers who blanked him, he was just a jealous useless man, i wonder what Davie Cooper would say about the state of Glasgow Rangers nowadays
When Davie Cooper, a sublimely skilled Scottish left-winger predominantly of Rangers and Scotland, but also Clydebank and Motherwell fame, died at the age of 39 of a brain haemorrhage in 1995, Scottish sport and football in particular mourned the passing of a true great of the game.
His greatness may not have been through gracing the big leagues of England, Italy or Spain, or through being part of a particularly strong Scotland team like many of his more heralded contemporaries. But he was a special player. Special both in terms of talent and ability, and in terms of his love for and attachment to the West of Scotland.
His lifelong love for Glasgow Rangers meant that in spite of some depressingly low periods for the club, and for him as a player in and out of the side, he felt no desire to seek greater fortune elsewhere. And greater fortune could have come his way both financially and professionally had he chosen to follow it. But he was already living his dream and was close to his home and haven in Hamilton. Why would he want to move?
Drysdale gives us a detailed look at Cooper’s career, which while naturally containing much to continue the warm glow of nostalgia does give regular hits of reality to provide balance. As well as charting the development of Cooper’s career from Clydebank to Rangers and latterly Motherwell, he also delves into the numerous issues affecting his playing career, from transfer opportunities to lack of recognition from various regimes for club and country. He portrays something of the enigma that was Cooper. A player with such sublime talent that was at times given limited opportunity with both Rangers and Scotland as team managers struggled to find a way to accommodate what some might term a “luxury” player.
But that label would be a disservice to the player, and is more of a slight on those who couldn’t find a way to make more regular use of his talents. At times this led to another label; that of “Moody Blue” describing Cooper’s apparent attitude at times. Drysdale seeks to dispel this myth by painting a portrait of a naturally introverted and introspective character who also possessed a warmth and openness which helped make him a hero to the fans of the clubs he served.
What made Cooper tick, and why his career panned out the way it did, are covered in great detail with the views of many of his peers and colleagues, in addition to many of Cooper’s own utterings from his own autobiography. What is clear is the esteem he was and still is held in by those quoted in the book.
A thorough and very readable account of the man and the myth means that the occasional lapse in accuracy (the 1990 World Cup was in Italy, not the USA as claimed) doesn’t impinge on the overall feeling of gaining an insight into one of Scotland’s less widely known greats. I say that as an outsider however, speaking as an Englishman. To those within Scotland and the Glasgow area in particular, it is clear that the fact that Cooper remained home based throughout has added to his legend.
The passing of time and the passing of the man can lead to more favourable feelings and reminiscences about the players, but in Cooper’s case, all accounts seemingly agree that he was one of the most gifted players of his, or many other, generations. Among countless thoughts, opinions and insights shown in this book, the overwhelming feeling is that Davie Cooper isn’t being viewed through nostalgic rose-tinted spectacles; the easy trap to fall into when assessing those who died too soon. The loyalty to his region and his clubs gained him devotion, perhaps even more so than his frequent wonder goals. This book does justice to the esteem in which Cooper is clearly still held.
One appraisal nicely sums this up: “Sometimes I wonder if we crack him up these days because of how he died so young, but then I go back to watching the footage and you can’t argue with it. He was a bloody marvel.”
This review is from my website The Sports Book Review
I was fortunate enough to see Davie Cooper grace Fir Park on numerous occasions towards the end of his career and like many Motherwell fans have an enormous affection for the man. Ofcourse we know he was a "True Blue" to use the title of 1987 book about him, but he did much for our club, and we like to think we did a little for him too.
And so it was with some delight that I heard of a new book about Coop. I was lucky enough to be able to purchase it at a promotional rate and kept it to enjoy whilst on holiday.
An enjoyable read for the most part the vast majority of the book as you might expect covers his time with Rangers. With the Old Firm constantly in the media spotlight in Scotland, much of his experiences there are well known already but the personal views from Rangers fans and of course former colleagues gave an interesting slant to how Coop's career progressed.
Outwith his time at Motherwell, for me it was the "fresh" revelations that piqued my interest most such as his life before professional football, his time at Kilbowie with Clydebank and the discussions as to why he gleaned so few international caps for his country.
I do have to admit I felt slightly let down by the chapter on Davie's time at Motherwell. Certainly the 1991 Cup win was a major part of his time at Fir Park but there was much more to it than that. I'm unsure when the author speaks of everything else that followed 18th May 1991 as being an anti-climax if he believes that to be true or he simply doesn't know what happened next. There was Cooper's involvement in Motherwell's first ever European matches for example, or the completely new challenge he was involved in during 1992'93 in 'Well's relegation battle that might have made for interesting reading.
Or rather than generalise with Billy Davies (who didn't actually join 'Well until four months after Davie left) space could have been devoted to reminiscing over scintillating moments of skill such as turning Anton Rogan in knots and goading him by running after the Ulsterman and showing him the ball or even something left-field how Davie absolutely ran the show at the old Tennents Sixes indoor tournaments with his wonderful ability and close control. A little bit of an opportunity missed in my mind.
Still, even if, as you would fully expect, the book is pitched at Rangers fans in the main, I believe it would be a good read for all.
I had the honour of knowing this wonderful man. It was such a joy to read about his life and learn all the things I never had time to find out from him. A fantastic man on the park and a fantastic man off the park. I still miss you mate!