Where Are They Now - Leigh Cooper
It's back to the 1980's for this week's chapter in the Where Are They Now series.
LEIGH COOPER - Born 7th May 1961 Reading, Berkshire.
Leigh joined Argyle as a schoolboy and progressed through the youth system before being give his first team debut by manager Bobby Saxton on 24th November at Layer Road Colchester, the FA Cup first round match ended 1-1 with Kevin Hodges scoring the Argyle goal; unfortunately they lost the replay 1-0 after extra time.
In his first season Leigh made 16 league and cup appearances.
1980-81 saw Leigh score his first goal for the club coming in a 2-0 home win over Millwall after Donal Murphy had scored the first.
He didn't have to wait long to score again, his next goals came the following Saturday, again at Home Park when Argyle beat Oxford 3-0, Leigh scored twice and David Kemp got the other goal.
The following season saw Leigh miss only three games with his goal tally rising as well even though he didn't score a goal until January 2nd, he got two in an easy 4- win at home to Bristol Rovers with Jeff Cook also scoring twice.
After waiting half a season to score his first goals he scored again in January, this time in a 2-2 draw at Reading with Kevin Hodges scoring the second.
Another goal came in a 3-1 win at Fulham, Leigh scored in between goals from John Sims and Jeff Cook. His other goal was Argyle's last of the season of the season coming in the final game, Millwall were the visitors to Home Park but went home pointless with goals from Levin Hodges and Leigh enough to beat the Londoners 2-1.
1982-83 saw Leigh an almost ever present in the team, missing only one game and added another four goals to his total. His first of the season came at Millwall, he scored the first in a 2-2 draw with an own goal ensuring Argyle returned with a well-earned point. His next goal also came in a 2-2 draw this time at Preston; he again got the first goal with Kevin Hodges scoring the second.
Leigh again scored the first goal in a 3-1 home win over Bradford City goals from Mike McCartney and Kevin Hodges saw Argyle to a comfortable win.
His last goal of the season was in another away draw, this time at Oxford, with Leigh's goal earning a point.
1983-84 was a memorable one for Leigh, he was appointed as team captain at the age of only 22, one of the youngest players to captain a league side.
He made 43 league and an amazing sixteen cup appearances over the season. He only managed two goals, both coming in a 2-2 draw at home to Lincoln.
The highlight of his season must have been leading his team out in the FA Cup semi-final against Watford.
Who would have thought the cup run that started at Southend in a 0-0 draw watched by a crowd of 3,408 would end at Villa Park in front of 43,858?
Unfortunately Leigh's wayward pass led to George Reilly scoring the only goal of the game but it was still a superb achievement for Argyle of Division 3 to have got so far.
The next season wasn't as successful for Leigh, a loss of form saw him dropped from the first team with him only scoring one goal, he scored the second in a 2-1 home win over Bournemouth in the first round of the Freight Rover Trophy, even that didn't turn out well with Argyle losing the away leg 2-0.
Argyle manager Dave Smith obviously wanted to keep Leigh at Home Park and successfully converted him to a full back which rescued his career at Home Park.
1985-86 was a good one for both Argyle and Leigh, despite playing as a defender he still managed three goals, two of the coming in the FA Cup, he scored the first goal in a second round 3-0 home win over non-league Maidstone with Garry Nelson and Kevin Summerfield also scoring.
He scored again in the third round in a 2-2 draw away to Hull; John Clayton had scored the first goal.
Leigh's last goal of the season, in fact even though he spent another four seasons at the club it would be his last Argyle goal. It came three games in to a winning run of nine successive games; he scored the first goal in a 2-0 home win over Walsall with Russell Coughlin also scoring.
With eight games to go Tommy Tynan returned on loan from Rotherham and scored ten goals before the season ended with a 2-0 win at Darlington.
Argyle finished as runners-up behind Reading and were promoted.
Leigh spent two successful seasons in Division 2 before being awarded a testimonial.
On August 19th 1988 against Coventry, 5,027 turned up to see Argyle beaten 2-1 with Tommy Tynan scoring the Argyle goal.
Unfortunately disaster struck later in the season in a game at Fratton Park Portsmouth when Leigh broke his leg, to add insult to injury Argyle lost 2-0.
After spending the rest of the season and most of the next recuperating he only played another two games for the club.
His final game came on 17th March 1990 in a 0-0 draw at Stoke.
After playing 387 games and scoring 18 goals he left the club to join Aldershot.
Unfortunately Aldershot were in serious financial difficulties and after 18 months at the club where he made 33 appearances and scored 2 goals Aldershot were wound up in the high court and forced to resign their membership of the Football League leaving Leigh and the rest of the team out of work.
Leigh returned to the Westcountry to continue his playing career with Truro City, not the luckiest of players, Leigh's playing career was finally brought to an end by a second broken leg.
After hanging up his boots Leigh managed local clubs Truro, Holsworthy, Saltash and Liskeard, combining these with running a training and development company in Plymouth.
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