Mark Cooper (footballer, born 1968)

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Mark Cooper
Mark Cooper Millwall Vs Swindon Town (22068481830) (cropped).jpg
Cooper pictured in January 2011
Personal information
Full nameMark Nicholas Cooper [1]
Date of birth (1968-12-18) 18 December 1968 (age 52) [1]
Place of birth Wakefield, England
Height 5 ft 8 in (1.73 m) [2]
Position(s) Midfielder
Club information
Current team
Barrow (manager)
Youth career
0000–1987 Bristol City
Senior career*
1987–1989 Bristol City 0 (0)
1989–1991 Exeter City 50 (12)
1990Southend United (loan) 5 (0)
1991–1992 Birmingham City 39 (4)
1992–1994 Fulham 14 (0)
1993Huddersfield Town (loan) 10 (4)
1994 Wycombe Wanderers 2 (1)
1994–1996 Exeter City 88 (20)
1996–1997 Hartlepool United 31 (9)
1997Macclesfield Town (loan) 8 (2)
1997–1998 Leyton Orient 1 (0)
1998–2000 Rushden & Diamonds 17 (8)
2000Telford United (loan) 5 (1)
2000–2001 Hednesford Town 24 (4)
2001–2002 Forest Green Rovers 48 (18)
2002–2007 Tamworth 104 (31)
2007 Hinckley United 15 (1)
2007–2009 Kettering Town 1 (1)
Teams managed
2004–2007 Tamworth
2007–2009 Kettering Town
2009–2010 Peterborough United
2010–2011 Darlington
2012 Kettering Town
2013 AFC Telford United
2013–2015 Swindon Town
2016 Notts County
2016–2021 Forest Green Rovers
2021– Barrow
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Mark Nicholas Cooper (born 18 December 1968) is an English former association football player and manager who played as a midfielder. He is currently the manager of Barrow.


Cooper followed his father Terry into the sport, starting his career with Bristol City in 1987. During a 22-year playing career he was at 17 clubs, including three on loan and two spells at Exeter City. He played 457 league games, during which he scored 115 goals, with his five-year spell at non-league Tamworth being his longest at any club. At two of his final three clubs, he also combined the role with being manager. He then went into management full-time, with clubs both outside and within the Football League.

Playing career

Born in Wakefield, West Riding of Yorkshire, Cooper's football career started in 1987, where he first appeared on the books of Bristol City as a trainee, but never made any first team appearances for the club. After two seasons with the Robins, Cooper moved on to Exeter City, managed by his father, in October 1989. He played 50 games and scored 12 goals for the south-western club, and during his time with The Grecians, Mark went on loan to Southend United, where he only made 5 appearances.

In September 1991, Cooper joined Birmingham City. He played a total of 39 games, and scored 4 goals for the Midlands club. Cooper next signed for London club Fulham for a £40,000 fee. After only 14 games for the club, and a brief loan spell with Huddersfield Town in 1993, he moved on to Wycombe Wanderers, before returning for a second spell with Exeter City in February 1994.

Two seasons later Cooper went north to Hartlepool United, where he made 31 appearances and scored 9 goals. His third and final loan spell was with Macclesfield Town in September 1997, where he spent two months and made just 8 appearances, scoring twice. In December 1997, Cooper joined Leyton Orient on a non-contract basis, before moving on to Rushden & Diamonds.

After two years with the club, Cooper moved on to Hednesford Town. Cooper then moved on to Forest Green Rovers, where he was club captain and named Supporters' Player of the Year. This was his final team before joining Tamworth as a player in May 2002.

Managerial career

At the start of the 2003–04 season Cooper was appointed player/assistant manager at Tamworth and moved up to manager following the departure of Darron Gee for the 2004–05 season. [3]

During his time as Tamworth manager, Cooper managed to get them into the third round of the FA Cup in two consecutive seasons. The first time they played against Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium and they managed to force a replay at their own ground, where the game was decided on penalties. The following season they played against Norwich City and lost 4–1.

Tamworth's league form did not match their cup exploits, however. In the 2005–06 season Tamworth finished second-bottom of the Conference, and only survived when Canvey Island resigned from the league. The following season went little better, and on 24 January 2007, he left Tamworth by mutual consent, with the club bottom of the Conference table. [4]

On 16 May 2007, Cooper was appointed manager of Kettering Town. [5] He had a successful first season with the Poppies, winning the Conference North title with a margin of 17 points. In the 2008–09 season, he guided Kettering to the FA Cup fourth round, a joint record for the furthest the club have been in the competition, where they faced Premier League team Fulham. He also guided the Poppies to eight place in the Conference National, completing a successful return to that division.

After days of speculation, on 13 November 2009, Cooper agreed in principle to a three-and-a-half-year contract to become Darren Ferguson's successor as manager of Championship side Peterborough United. [6] He was appointed as manager the following day. [7] He left Kettering second in the table and on a twelve-game unbeaten run. The Poppies were also in the Second Round of the FA Cup, and had been handed a dream tie against Leeds United. Cooper managed his last game as a Poppy away at Cambridge United where his side won 2–0, Cooper was applauded off the pitch by the Kettering Town faithful and had tears running down his cheeks.

On 25 November, he made his first signing as Peterborough manager, signing Exodus Geohaghon from former club Kettering Town. On 19 December, Peterborough won their first game with Cooper in charge, a 2–1 home win against Watford. Later that month, they recovered from a 0–4 home deficit to Cardiff City to claim a 4–4 draw. Cooper was sacked just 13 games into his tenure on 1 February 2010 with only 1 win in those 13 games. [8]

Cooper was named Darlington manager on 29 June 2010, where he signed a two-year contract. [9] Chairman Raj Singh turned down official approaches from Lincoln City and York City for Cooper in October. [10] Cooper's first season with Darlington in 2010–11 was deemed a success. After a rocky start to the season the team recovered, going on a run of only one defeat in 20 league and cup matches from January 2011, eventually finishing in a creditable league position of 7th. Darlington under Cooper's guidance also reached the second round of the FA Cup, and beat Mansfield Town 1–0 at Wembley to win the 2011 FA Trophy Final. Following what the chairman described as "recent results ... closer to relegation form than promotion form", Cooper was dismissed as Darlington manager on 24 October 2011. [11]

On 4 January 2012, Cooper was appointed caretaker manager of Kettering Town, [12] but withdrew from the role after only one match citing the club's off-field issues. [13]

Cooper was appointed manager at AFC Telford United on 31 January 2013 after Andy Sinton was sacked. [14] After just five games in charge – one draw and four defeats – he was appointed assistant to new Swindon Town manager Kevin MacDonald. [15]

On 20 August 2013, he was appointed manager of Swindon Town, after taking over as assistant manager from when MacDonald resigned on 13 July 2013. [16] He led the club to 8th in his first season in charge during the 2013-14 Football League One campaign, and followed that up by qualifying for the 2014–15 League One play-offs the following season. After play-off semi-final success over Sheffield United, [17] he led the club out in the 2015 League One play-off final at Wembley Stadium but was denied promotion, losing 4–0 to Preston North End. [18] Later after play-off final defeat, he sold midfield duo Ben Gladwin and Massimo Luongo to Queens Park Rangers for undisclosed seven-figure transfer fees. [19]

On 17 October 2015, following a 2–0 defeat to Millwall, it was announced that he had parted company with Swindon Town. [20]

Cooper was appointed manager of League Two Notts County on 20 March 2016 on a short-term contract until the end of the season. He was set a points target which, if met, would bring a permanent deal. [21] He met the target but chose to leave the club

Forest Green Rovers

After leaving Notts County, Cooper became manager of Forest Green Rovers; when he joined, on 9 May, they had just reached the 2016 National League play-off Final, although caretaker manager Scott Bartlett took charge for the final at Wembley with Cooper in an advisory role. [22]

On 23 November 2019 Mark Cooper was accused of provoking Leyton Orient Interim Head Coach Ross Embleton with a comment about the passing of Justin Edinburgh. Cooper denied the allegations, and the Football Association decided not to investigate the matter further. [23]

On 11 April 2021, Forest Green Rovers parted company with Cooper after five years at the club during which he oversaw a historic promotion to the Football League. [24]


On 28 May 2021, Cooper was appointed as manager of Barrow after weeks of speculation, signing a three-year deal with the club. [25]

Personal life

He is the son of former Leeds United and England full-back Terry Cooper. Mark's son, Charlie, also became a footballer; who plays for Woking FC.

Managerial statistics

As of match played 10 April 2021 [26]
Managerial record by team and tenure
Tamworth [ citation needed ]28 April 2004 [3] 24 January 2007 [4] 138413562029.7
Kettering Town 16 May 200714 November 2009128733025057.0
Peterborough United 14 November 20091 February 201013148007.7
Darlington 29 June 201024 October 201186362624041.9
Kettering Town 4 January 201218 January 2012 [13] 1001000.0
AFC Telford United [15] 31 January 20131 March 20135014000.0
Swindon Town 13 July 201317 October 2015125522746041.6
Notts County 20 March 20167 May 201610325030.0
Forest Green Rovers 9 May 201611 April 20212551016787039.6

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  1. 1 2 Hugman, Barry J., ed. (2005). The PFA Premier & Football League Players' Records 1946–2005. Queen Anne Press. p. 137. ISBN   1-85291-665-6.
  2. "Mark Cooper". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 30 December 2019.
  3. 1 2 "Tamworth appoint Cooper". BBC Sport. 28 April 2004. Retrieved 26 January 2010.
  4. 1 2 "Cooper and Tamworth part company". BBC Sport. 24 January 2007. Retrieved 26 January 2010.
  5. "Kettering unveil Cooper as boss". BBC Sport. 17 May 2007. Retrieved 17 May 2007.
  6. "Cooper agrees to become Posh boss". Peterborough Today. 13 November 2009. Retrieved 26 January 2010.
  7. "Cooper confirmed as Posh manager". BBC Sport. 14 November 2009. Retrieved 14 November 2009.
  8. "Mark Cooper sacked as Peterborough United manager". BBC Sport. 1 February 2010. Retrieved 1 February 2010.
  9. Barron, Peter (29 June 2010). "Cooper confirmed as new Quakers manager". The Northern Echo. Darlington. Retrieved 29 June 2010.
  10. Stoddart, Craig (11 October 2010). "Quakers ready to fight with Cooper on brink". The Northern Echo. Darlington. Retrieved 11 October 2010.
  11. "Darlington part company with manager Mark Cooper". BBC Sport. 24 October 2011. Retrieved 25 October 2011.
  12. "Mark Cooper in for Mark Stimson at Kettering Town". BBC Sport. 4 January 2012. Retrieved 4 January 2012.
  13. 1 2 "Mark Cooper puts Kettering Town role on hold". BBC Sport. 18 January 2012. Retrieved 16 April 2012.
  14. "AFC Telford: Mark Cooper becomes interim first-team boss". BBC Sport. 31 January 2013. Retrieved 31 January 2013.
  15. 1 2 "Mark Cooper leaves AFC Telford to take Swindon Town assistant role". BBC Sport. 1 March 2013. Retrieved 1 March 2013.
  16. "Mark Cooper: Swindon Town assistant given manager's job". BBC Sport. 20 August 2013.
  17. Hassan, Nabil (11 May 2015). "Swindon Town 5–5 Sheffield United". BBC Sport. Retrieved 1 February 2019.
  18. Middleton, Nathan (24 May 2015). "Preston North End 4–0 Swindon Town". BBC Sport. Retrieved 1 February 2019.
  19. "QPR sign Massimo Luongo and Ben Gladwin from Swindon Town". The Guardian. Press Association. 28 May 2015. Retrieved 1 February 2019.
  20. "Swindon Town: Mark Cooper leaves League One club". BBC Sport. 17 October 2015. Retrieved 26 October 2015.
  21. "Mark Cooper: Notts County manager gets points target". BBC Sport. 20 March 2016. Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  22. "Mark Cooper: Forest Green Rovers name new manager". BBC Sport. 9 May 2016. Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  23. "Leyton Orient: Ross Embleton to 'look forward' after Mark Cooper jibe row". BBC Sport. 29 November 2019 via
  24. "Club Statement: Mark Cooper". 11 April 2021.
  25. "Mark Cooper Appointed As Barrow Manager". 28 May 2021.
  26. "Managers: Mark Cooper". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 1 February 2019.