SPORTS AWARDS: Is Derek Cooper Hartlepool’s ultimate unsung hero?

Derek Cooper.
Derek Cooper.

HE’S the man who trained hundreds of Hartlepool footballers and never asked for recognition.

But Derek Cooper could be a step away from an honour in the Hartlepool Mail Sports Awards.

Derek, now 67, was a youth leader at 18 years old. He was chairman of the Hartlepool Sunday League for 19 years and was once treasurer of 40 different football teams.

But his real claim to fame is he was the man who helped stars such as the Linighan brothers to develop.

Although he retired from it all at 50, he is still held in such high regard that he has been nominated in the unsung hero category.

“I am surprised,” said Derek of Marine Drive in Hartlepool. “I did a lot of work but I didn’t expect anything like this at all.”

Ex-plumber Derek, married to Pauline, 67, has two children David Cooper, 45, and Carol Bradley, 38.

He is also a grandfather-of-three and spends time these days on his beloved bowls and golf.

But it was his time as a youth leader that prompted town man Alan Fox to nominate him for an award.

Alan said: “Derek gave freely of his time to King Oswy Youth Football. He arranged quiz nights to raise funds and yearly presentation nights which filled the Borough Hall.

“His personality is infectious and he truly deserves this award.”

Derek becomes the latest sports hero to be nominated for the competition but we want more.

There are 13 categories in this year’s competition:

l Team of the Year;

l Sportsperson Special Achievement Award;

l Disabled Sports Person Award;

l Disabled Team of the Year;

l Contribution to Disability Sports Award;

l Sports Official/Referee Award;

l Coach of the Year Award;

l Unsung Hero Award or Volunteer/Young Leader Award;

l Club of the Year Award;

l Lifetime Achievement Award;

l Sports Personality of the Year Award;

l Young Sports Personality of the Year Award;

l Inspire Award.

To nominate a person or group, fill in the form on this page or visit the Hartlepool Mail website at www.hartlepoolmail.co.uk and click on the link to the awards.