KELLY’S EYE ON POOLS: The Eagle has landed, congratulations Colin Cooper

PRIZE GUYS: Colin Cooper and Luke James
PRIZE GUYS: Colin Cooper and Luke James

DO NOT adjust your copy of the Hartlepool Mail.

The picture of the young award winner, above, is in black and white.

And your eyes do not deceive you, it is indeed Colin Cooper.

One of my first ever assignments in the murky world of journalism, in 1989, was to attend an awards lunch at Ayresome Park to report on the Middlesbrough full-back winning the Barclays Young Eagle trophy.

Poor Colin Cooper.Almost put to sleep in 1989 by the banal questions of a young, talentless reporter, he still can’t shake off this fat shadow who was at the Maiden Castle training ground yesterday to deliver equally boring patter.

But Coops deserves the SkyBet League Two manager of the month award for October for more than tolerating the writer of Kelly’s Eye.

A top-line defender in his day with Boro, Millwall, Nottingham Forest , Boro again and Sunderland (very briefly), Cooper made a smooth transition into coaching.

He assisted Gareth Southgate in the Premier League at the Riverside, had a spell at Bradford City when Gordon Strachan invited him to leave Boro and then came back to Teesside, taking up a role at the club’s academy.

Cooper’s goal was always to go into management and Pools were the club to give him his first crack at the job.

Owners, Increased Oil Recovery have, more than once, displayed the knack of getting the right man in charge of their football club.

Chris Turner (Wolves youth team boss), Mike Newell (playing golf in Southport), Neale Cooper (from little-known Ross County) and Danny Wilson (relegated after finishing below Pools) were perhaps not the obvious choices when they were installed at Victoria Park.

All four enjoyed stunning periods of success.

It is still early days for Cooper, and his sidekick Craig Hignett. After all the clocks have only just gone back.

But Cooper is starting to transform Pools.

Kelly was not alone to be peturbed by the absence of a striker among his new arrivals. But he has made four outstanding young signings, Michael Duckworth, Christian Burgess, Matty Dolan and Jack Compton, who have made significant contributions and are getting better all the time.

He is getting goals from his advanced players and Pools are winning at Victoria Park to be just three points outside the play-offs.

Pools are also on the road to Wembley in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, with a home tie to come against Rotherham on Tuesday night.

Things could not be going much better. Cooper, if my calculations are correct, is the 15th manager since I started working at this paper.

And he has impressed me more than the majority. Early days it may be but the young eagle has got Pools flying and long may that continue.