Neale Cooper 1963-2018


BILL THE BIRO




When, Neale Cooper was appointed as manager by Ken Hodcroft following the departure of Mike Newell, the almost universal reaction was "who?"

Nearly two years later, when Neale left "by mutual consent" with Pools having got to the playoffs in his first season and with the playoffs almost achieved again (the ones which were to take Pools to Cardiff for their finest hour), the almost universal reaction was "why?"

In between, Neale endeared himself to Poolies for his honesty, his humour, his encouragement of an attractive playing style, his willingness to give young players their chance, and probably most important, his rapport with the fans. Whether it was chatting to a fan out in the street or being interviewed by the media, he always seemed the same - just a great bloke.

Neale could make people laugh

And his death has brought forth tributes from Poolies, some who never met him, all saying much the same about him. But also back in Scotland former fans and players from his playing days at Aberdeen and then Rangers were no different in their reaction to his untimely passing. He seemed to be loved by just about everybody. Which is possibly one of his greatest achievements, even if he did win the European Cup-Winners' Cup with Aberdeen in 1983.

With some of  his former players

Neale's second stint at Pools may not have been as successful as his first, but he was constrained by the financial pressures which afflicted all managers in the latter years of IOR ownership, pressures that would get even worse after his second departure, but that second spell never dimmed Poolies' affection for Neale. An affection reflected in the universal approval for the renaming of the Mill House Stand as the Neale Cooper Stand.

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