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Tommy Cooper killed in a road accident

One of the finest full backs English football has known and one of the nicest of men, Tommy Cooper, idol of Derby soccer crowds for a period of years, was killed yesterday in a road accident near Aldeburgh, Suffolk.

“Snowy,” as he was popularly known because of his flaxen hair, had been in the Army since the early days of the war and at the time of his tragic death was a sergeant in the Military Police. As the rider of a motor-cycle, he was involved in a head-on collision with a double deck motor ‘bus. The news of his unfortunate death has been learned with real regret in many parts of the country, for Cooper was something more than a great footballer. He had the faculty for making friends and keeping them.

It was with Derby County that the ex. Miner of Longton made his name in the game he adorned, but he was not an unknown when he was signed on for the Baseball Ground team on March 10, 1926. He began his League service with Port Vale, who took him in August 1924 from Trentham in the Cheshire League, and it was because of a grand exhibition against the Rams at Derby at Christmas of 1925 that the County developed the marked fancy for him that was to end in his transfer just over a couple of months later.

Cooper received the first of his eight “caps” in international matches proper when he played against Ireland at Belfast on October 22, 1927. More honours than he actually received would have gone his way but for mishaps that necessitated the removal of cartilage from both knees.As it was he represented his country with distinction in France, Belgium, Spain, Hungary, and Czecho-Slovakia, in addition to the historic football fields of England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. And it could be said with truth that no fairer footballer ever wore a jersey. His close quarter work as a right back was the outstanding point about his play, yet there was never anything vicious in his tackling, though it was quick and accurate.

“Snowy” captained Derby County from November, 1931, when he succeeded Johnny McIntyre in the office, ‘till he was allowed to go to Liverpool at the beginning of December, 1934. In the meantime he also captained England on occasions, and he later became skipper of the Anfield-road eleven. During his distinguished career, Cooper played in 428 League matches, 247 of them for Derby County, for whom he also appeared in 18 F.A. Cup games. He scored only one goal and than from a kick against Middlesbrough at the Baseball Ground in February, 1932.

Wherever he went Tommy Cooper was popular, and rightly so. Even when he went to Merseyside, Derby remained his home in all except actual residence for the time being and each time he returned as an “enemy” of the “Rams” he was given an ovation that must have warmed his heart. Derbians will long remember him. In June, 1931, he married Miss Jean Raynor, daughter of the late Mr. James Raynor and Miss Raynor, then of the Queen’s Head Hotel, Crompton-street, Derby.

Copyright - Derby Daily Telegraph on 26-06-1940 (transcribed by Kjell Hanssen)
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