SWINDON TOWN: Cooper and Clough to renew rivalry

Swindon Advertiser: Town boss Mark Cooper Town boss Mark Cooper

MARK Cooper and Nigel Clough will this weekend renew a rivalry which dates back the best part of a decade and was born in non-league football.

Having enjoyed playing careers which ran parallel to each other, without their paths ever crossing, the two managers both found themselves managing in the Conference in 2004, Cooper with Tamworth and current Sheffield United boss Clough at Burton Albion.

In the three seasons which followed the duo went head-to-head seven times, with three wins for Clough, one for Cooper and three draws, before each manager won a game apiece after Cooper had moved on to Kettering.

Having begun their rivalry in non-league football the last time the two managers met was in the Championship, where Clough and his Derby side were 3-0 winners at London Road towards the end of Cooper’s time at Peterborough, but the Town boss is looking forward to locking horns with the new Blades boss once again tomorrow.

“I’ve always got on quite well with Nigel and he’s been fine with me, and wherever he’s gone he’s done quite well,” he said.

“They are on a good run there and they are four unbeaten and he would certainly have got them at it. They will fight for every ball and play as a team and when you go to Bramall Lane you know you are in for a hostile afternoon if they are playing well.

“I’ve always got on okay with Nigel and I’m sure we will shake hands before and after the game and wish each other luck.

“He was a far better player than me, at a different level, but he’s done well as a manager. I’m sure when he left Derby he got the call from Sheffield United and felt ‘that’s a really big club’ and a great opportunity for him at a big club.”

The link between the Cooper and Clough families goes back to the two managers’ fathers, where Brian Clough was Terry Cooper’s boss at Leeds in 1974, and Town boss Cooper admitted legendary manager Clough senior’s time at Elland Road represented how tough a business football management is.

“He said it was entertaining, I think he got on well with Brian, but my dad was out injured while Brian was there so he didn’t really have a lot to do with it,” he said. “My dad spoke quite highly of Brian, though.

“Management is ups and downs, snakes and ladders.

“One minute you think you’re at the top of the board then the next you land on that horrible big snake and you are down at the bottom. You have to take the rough with the smooth and stay with it.”

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