Keith Pennicott-Bowen on Shane Cooper-Clark and the FA Vase dream

Bracknell Town manager Keith Penicott-Bowen. Photo: Neil Graham.



Bracknell Town manager Keith Penicott-Bowen. Photo: Neil Graham.


The dream of a Wembley FA Vase Final is still alive for one Berkshire side and two men in particular.

Former Bracknell Town player, assistant manager and manager Keith Pennicott-Bowen and striker Shane Cooper-Clark are just 90 minutes from a historic final at the home of English football.

Wembley awaits the winners of the second leg of a semi final that see’s their current club Thatcham Town head to 1874 Northwich with a 1-0 lead on Saturday.

Keith Pennicott Bowen and Shane Cooper Clark.
Keith Pennicott Bowen and Shane Cooper-Clark.

It’s historic for two reasons – the first being the obvious value of any non league side reaching a Wembley final, the second though is that should Thatcham make it – they’ll be the first side from Berkshire ever to make the final in over 40 years of Vase competition.

Keith spoke to us about the Hellenic Leagues top goalscorer Shane in particular, but also the Vase itself. Here’s everything Bowes said:

How’s Shane doing?

He’s doing good, obviously he’s having a fantastic season. He’s the top goal score in the Hellenic League Premier, crikey he must be one of the top scorers at this level – step 5 football in the country. He can’t be far off it.

He must have 45 goals out of 47 games or something like that.

It’s a phenomenal record and he’s doing it season in season out at the moment

He has hasn’t he, certainly in the time I’ve known him, the last four or five years, he’s always been there or thereabouts which is fantastic for him really. He’s on top of the world at the moment.

Former Bracknell Town striker Shane Cooper-Clark. Photo: Neil Graham.
Former Bracknell Town striker Shane Cooper-Clark. Photo: Neil Graham.

What do you think is his secret? Do you know?

He hasn’t got any fear put it that way! He’s a natural goal scorer, you see him in training week in week out he practices his shooting and he’s there doing it before, during and after sessions as well.

He’s always positive and if he’s not scoring, the other side of his game is that he must be in the top four players at Thatcham at the moment for assists. If he’s not scoring goals he’s setting up goals.

How does he compare to the other top scorers looking at Bracknell specifically with Adam Cornell and TJ Bohane?

Shane’s on a par with those guys. Obviously TJ and Adam are trusted reliable players at this level which is why they are playing for such a strong side in Bracknell Town.

Shane Cooper-Clark for Thatcham Town and Garry Aulsberry. Photo: Neil Graham.
Shane Cooper-Clark for Thatcham Town and Garry Aulsberry. Photo: Neil Graham.

Shane’s up there with them and we’ve got other players at Thatcham who he’s learned from this season.

Ross Cook joined the club and Shane’s played alongside him and watched him in training and he’s another phenomenal talent at this level along with Liam Ferdinand and of course Gavin James who’s just come on board.

What a strike force we’ve, it’s great to have that competition and they all bounce off each other and of course there’s also the forwards coach Yashwa Romeo [scourge of Bracknell defences for Marlow in the 2000s].

He’s a good mentor for the strike force to bounce off.

Back when you were manager of Bracknell and Shane was I think pipped to the Hellenic League golden boot by Gavin who was at Flackwell at the time, has that been mentioned!?

I suspect over an orange juice at the bar they’ve had one or two laughs over it. It’s just great working with those sorts of players, a privilege as well as a pleasure and Shane is definitely in that top bracket at this level of football and has more that enough ability to go to the next level as well.

That may well be with Thatcham at this rate.

For sure, that’s where we want to be next season. There’s a long way to go yet but we’re at the business end of the season and it’s the old adage of one game at a time. But we’re in the right position and I’m sure everyone realises that.

Shane realises that and hopefully he can, he’ll want to be the top goal scorer in the league and I know he wants to be a winner. All the ingredients are there for him.

A quick mention of Saturday, you’re up to Northwich in the FA Vase with a 1-0 lead. Confident of reaching Wembley?

[laughs] There’s a confidence but there’s not an over confidence, you know, there’s a realism to the fixture. It’s just another game and we have to take it just another game.

We have to hold our nerve and approach it as you would any other game and that’s what we do as a management team and as a playing squad. Keeping the same setup, there’s nothing special. Okay we have to travel up the night before which is practical.

You don’t want to do a four hour journey before playing a game on a Saturday afternoon.

All the build up is there, everyone’s done their homework and if everyone turns up, there’s a pot of gold at the end of it. There’s a hell of a long way to go though and it’s going to be tough, tough, tough.

They’re a great side Northwich, they proved it when they came down to us last weekend and fair play to them keeping it at 1-0.

We’re going to have our work cut out and if we make it, fantastic. If we don’t then Northwich have more than deserved it. We’ll be fighting though, every minute every second of the game.

Thanks Keith, last question, just wanted to check but are you still registered as a player?

Keith Pennicott-Bowen out of retirement for Bracknell Town. Photo: Connor Sharod-Southam.
Keith Pennicott-Bowen out of retirement for Bracknell Town. Photo: Connor Sharod-Southam.

Believe it or not, there’s a new campaign if we get though on Saturday – #bowseyforwembley. Sign Bowsey up for Wembley!

I’ll have my debut at 51!

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