Shane Cooper-Clark, a name to strike fear in to the hearts of Uhlsport Hellenic League defenders and one that broke hearts on Teesside.
A fan favourite at Larges Lane, and it’s fair to say Waterside Park following his goalscoring exploits, he went on to unprecedented success at Thatcham, winning the Premier Division, FA Vase and Golden Boot with 40 goals (63 in all competitions) in 2017/18.
Now though Cooper-Clark is looking for a new club after telling Football in Bracknell he was departing Waterside Park following the clubs first season in the Evo Stik Southern League Division One South.
The Kingfishers have already announced a number of retained players for the 2019/20 Southern League season and a full list of pre season friendlies is available here.
Yeah not to bad, not as good as last year [laughs], I don’t think you could really top it to be honest so..!
Was that your first season at step 4?
The season just gone, yeah it was the first season I have played it.
How did you find it? How much tougher was it?
I personally don’t think the standard of football is any better, I think people are fitter, stronger, but footballing wise I think the footballing level drops down a bit. It’s more long ball in the Southern League in my eyes.
I remember when Bracknell got moved from the Isthmian to the Southern League 10 years or so ago, it was certainly more direct, would you agree with that?
Yeah definitely, very direct football. Playing in areas and then working from there.
The travellings obviously a big thing in that league, what are you looking to do next season?
Well, I am leaving Thatcham, the travelling side was bad but it didn’t really put me of it, it’s certainly not why I’ve decided to leave.
What are you looking for next season and where are you looking to go?
I’m not really sure at the moment, I’d like to play the same level if possible, if not above! I don’t mind dropping down a league either, again I don’t think the football is a lot different standard. I just want to be somewhere where I am playing personally.
Have you spoken to anybody yet?
I’m open to offers, keeping my options open. I have had a few chats with the odd person but nothing to say I am signing for anyone. I am totally keeping my options open until the season gets a bit closer really, the start of pre season anyway.
At Thatcham you had that brilliant season 2017/18, what was that like as a player?
[Laughs] unbeatable, I am never going to top a season like that playing at the level that I am at. We had such a brilliant side and to go on and do what we did, just a shame we missed out on the two cups as well, but to go on and finish it and win the FA Vase at Wembley Stadium I think it’s certainly capped off how good a side we were really.
At the start of the season though if someone had said you weren’t going to win the Hellenic Floodlit of Challenge Cup but you will win the league and the Vase I think you’d have taken that right?
Oh yes definitely!
There’s that bit of commentary that will probably haunt you for the rest of your life ‘he always scores’. Does that still have an affect on you?
Oh my god. Just you saying that now sent shivers through me. I still look back at something on it every day! Every day. It’s been just over a year now since it happened as well. Oh, just unforgettable. It’s always going to be there isn’t it.
Did you watch the Vase this year with Chertsey Town?
I watched some of it, at half time they gave me a little mention as well that I scored. I watched some of it but saw they won in extra time.
Do you stay in contact with the lads from that period?
We all still talk to each other. We’re in a very specific WhatsApp group together so we all stay in touch. Nothing about playing for anyone but just chatting about how things are going where we’re all playing.
Talk us through how you got to the Final? Was it Wokingham & Emmbrook that you started at?
Wokingham was where I started yeah. Came up through the Allied Counties Youth League and got in to the first team there. I went to Ascot United and then back to Wokingham, on to Bracknell Town and then Thatcham.
I was one of those that when you started at Bracknell, you signed for Steve Nebbett and Danny Oliphant and I watched you specifically in a game at Palmer Park against Highmoor Ibis and you couldn’t hit a barn door that day.
[Laughs] I think I remember the game your are talking about, but I don’t want to talk about it to much! [laughs].
All I remember from that moment on was you’ve just proved everybody wrong, you got fit over the summer and started banging them in. You and Garry Aulsberry lifted that team.
We did very well to finish where we did that season with the players we had. No disrespect to the player, they all worked hard but for the budget other teams had at that time to do what we did was pretty good I thought and to win Hellenic player of the year was a pretty good achievement!
You’ve been with Keith Pennicott-Bowen at the two clubs now, how much of an affect did he have on you at Bracknell?
He showed a lot of belief in me, he put his faith in me which helped. It grows your confidence. He was a good manager Bowse but he didn’t get the resources to help us push on.
He’s been at Thatcham as well with you, it’ll be a shame to leave that one?
Yeah, I get on very well with Bowse but at the end of the day sometimes you’ve got to move on!