Ian Charles Cooper
2 April 1946
14 December 2021 (aged 75)
Age at first & last AFL game
First game: 18y 16d
Last game: 23y 136d
Height and weight
Height: 188 cm
Weight: 76 kg
St. Kilda: 15, 8
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Pre 1965 stats are for selected matches only
After bursting onto the VFL scene in spectacular fashion in 1964, Ian Cooper went on to be a major contributor to St Kilda's emergence as a major league force over the ensuing couple of seasons. Built like a stick insect at 191 cm and just 67 kg Cooper was capable of spectacular aerial exploits but he supplemented this with tremendous intelligence that prevented him from over-exploiting or misusing the talent.
The quintessential big game player, he was one of St Kilda's most effective players in the losing Grand Final against Essendon in 1965, and was many observers' choice as best afield when the Saints broke through for their first flag against Collingwood the following year (click here for details). In 1967 he was selected in the VFL state squad but was prevented from playing by a bout of rheumatic fever, an ailment which effectively, if only temporarily, de-railed his career. In two further seasons with St Kilda he seldom re-discovered his best form, and in 1970 he was cleared to Swan Districts.
Midway through the 1970 season Cooper, who had been playing his best football in three years, was back in Melbourne as a member of the West Australian state side which took on, and very nearly defeated, the VFL. A couple of days later, however, the boot was firmly onthe other foot as the West Australians succumbed to the rare humiliation of defeat at the hands of a more desperate and better coordinated Tasmanian combination in Hobart. Cooper, with three goals, was one of his adopted state's better performers, but he could not prevent the home side edging home by two points, as described here. Later in the year, Cooper helped the Sandgropers to a hard fought win over South Australia in Perth.
After two successful seasons with Swans, during both of which he topped the club's goalkicking, Cooper returned to Victoria in 1972 where he joined Sandringham. Cleared in time to line up against Oakleigh in round six, Cooper gave the Zebras a much needed fast leading, strong-marking option on the forward lines, and went on to boot 64 goals for the year in just 10 games. In 1973 he did even better, topping the ton for the only time in his 12-season league and Association career. When Cooper was cleared to Federal League club Cheltenham at the end of the 1975 season he had kicked 282 goals in 56 games for the Zebras which represented an auspicious end to a career that, overall, perhaps delivered somewhat less than it initially promised.
Author - John Devaney