Obituary - John Gordon Cooper UPDATED
Thursday 9th February 2012
The death was announced on Tuesday last of former Cheshire, Flintshire, Birkenhead Park, Prestatyn and Caldy all rounder John Gordon Cooper. He was 73 years old.
Born on 5th June 1938, John attended Birkenhead Park High School playing in the first XI before joining Birkenhead Park CC in 1954 and was an 'ideal team member' of Noel Overand's five times championship winning side of 1960-64, also representing Cheshire three times in 1962 and again in 1963, before leaving for London to further his banking career in a number of senior positions. Cheshire 1, Cheshire 2, Cheshire 3, Cheshire 4.
An utterly dependable all round cricketer he was a reliable right hand middle order batsman, a tight right arm swing bowler and safe close to the wicket fielder. The type of player you want alongside you!
Returning from London in the late sixties and after a spell in North Wales with Prestatyn CC and as captain of Flintshire CCC, John joined Merseyside Competition side Caldy CC in about 1978, having been out of the game for a little while. In his first year, he played only Sunday friendly fixtures - this though in an era when the club had a full fixture list for two Sunday sides, including a number of quite prestigious games. His performances with bat and ball through the season in those games confirmed his already formidable reputation from his time at Birkenhead Park, and he was ultimately persuaded by the then 1st XI captain Des Kiley to play competition cricket once more.
Over the next few seasons, John became one of the mainstays of a Caldy side which was one of the stronger teams in the Merseyside Competition. However, despite several long runs in the Cheshire and Village Cups in the early 80s, Caldy never managed to mount a serious challenge for League honours.
With the exit of a number of players after the 1983 season, John was, with some reluctance, persuaded to take over as 1st XI captain. He eventually did so, having made clear that his single priority as captain would be League performance, and in 1984 set about making his mark as a captain of discipline and strong principles.
On the face of it, 1984 did not produce much improvement in league results, but foundations had been laid, and for 1985 the 'marquée signing' of Ray Digman (returning to the club he had previously flirted with in the late 70s) proved to be a masterstroke. With John leading from the front as opening batsman and first or second change bowler, and Ray providing the bowling penetration that had previously been missing, Caldy were soon among the league pacemakers taking them to Caldy's first ever title which was wrapped up on September 7th with a game of the league programme still to be played.
By leading the 1st XI to its first ever league title, the Merseyside Competition, in 1985, John Cooper established himself as one of the great figures of Caldy CC.
In hindsight, John had managed, for perhaps the first time in Caldy's history, to produce a unit that was consistently performing to the peak of its ability and exhibiting the sort of self belief which only became commonplace with the Village Cup winning Caldy teams of a decade or so later.
Having achieved what he set out to do within two years, John handed over the captaincy to Ian Free, but over the next two seasons, remained a key player with the first XI. Determined to go out at the top if at all possible, he announced his retirement from competition cricket in August 1987 having just compiled a 50 in his final league match.
He was an inspirational leader as well as a shrewd tactician. He was also an outstanding all round cricketer. He was one of the best batsmen in the league despite being in his mod 40s. He was also an excellent medium fast bowler who bowled very straight and consequently got a lot of wickets lbw or bowled. John was also a very good fielder with a great pair of hands close to the wicket.
He was an outstanding sportsman - he was also a talented table tennis player and golfer and a great man who was fun to be around, quick witted and very clear minded on his approach to life.
He will be greatly missed and our condolences to his wife Jenny and sons Byron and Jason.
John's funeral will be at St Bridget's Church, West Kirby on Wednesday 22nd February at 12:45pm to be followed by Caldy Golf Club.