There have been numerous players to turn out for Macc and Hartlepool over the years, today we take a look at current Forest Green Rovers Manager, Mark Cooper.
Mark began his career at Ashton Gate back in 1987 where he came through the youth setup at Bristol City.
In 1989 he moved to the south coast to join Exeter City where he scored twelve goals in fifty league appearances for The Grecians.
His performances in midfield were generating rave reviews at the time, and it was no surprised when Cooper moved to Birmingham City in the summer of 1991. He went on to be a virtual ever present for the midlands side during the 1991/2 season before Fulham snapped him up for £40k at the end of the season.
Cooper would spend two years at Craven Cottage, although he found it difficult to secure a regular first team place – so much so, that in the summer of 1994 he returned to St James’ Park to the delight of the Exeter fans.
Once again, Cooper would spend two years in Devon – this time chalking up almost 100 league appearances for The Grecians, scoring twenty goals in the process.
Yet, at the end of the 1995/6 season, Mark would make the mammoth journey to Hartlepool where he became a first team regular in the heart of midfield, weighing in with nine goals for good measure.
With his permanent position within the Hartlepool starting eleven no longer secure, Cooper made the loan move to Sammy McIlroy’s Macclesfield Town in 1997.
Fresh from promotion from the Vauxhall Conference, Mark may well have only made eight appearances in a blue shirt, but he scored some important goals which helped to secure back to back promotions.
His first came in the JC Thompson Shield, which in those days was the equivalent of the non-league Charity Shield. Paired against FA Trophy winners Woking, Cooper added to Richard Landon’s brace to give The Silkmen a 3 v 1 victory against our old sparring partners.
Following on from this, Mark scored the winner in a home league match against Mansfield Town, before restoring parity against former side Exeter after The Grecians had led 2 – 0 at the Moss Rose.
Mark then ended his career by playing for a variety of clubs, the most notable of which was Tamworth where he had an impressive strike rate of a goal in every three games over 104 league appearances.
After hanging up his boots, Cooper then turned his hand to management, with his first job coming at previous employers Tamworth.
He would make a great impression at the midlands side, taking them to the FA Cup Third Round for two consecutive years – including holding the mighty Stoke City to a draw before being eliminated on penalties.
In total, Cooper has managed nine different teams and at the end of the 2015/16 season rejected the chance to extend his stay as Notts County Manager to take up the reigns at National League side, Forest Green Rovers.
His faith in the Gloucestershire outfit was repaid last summer, as Rovers defeated Tranmere in the National League Play-Off Final to take their place in the Football League.