Barking ‘worthy Essex Senior Cup winners’ says old boy Cooper on anniversary of 1990 triumph
PUBLISHED: 15:00 15 April 2020
It is almost 30 years since Barking lifted the Essex Senior Cup with a 4-0 win over Southend United at Dagenham’s Victoria Road ground.
That made it seven county cup successes in the club’s long history and current Grays Athletic boss Jimmy Cooper was in Dave Patient’s victorious line-up on April 18, 1990.
“I remember most of the games. It’s a fantastic competition and one of the biggest and best trophies around,” he said.
“I started at Barking when I was 16, went to Leytonstone Ilford with Tony Bass and then signed for Dagenham under John Still.
“I only had two seasons back at Barking, but we had a decent side that year, although we could’ve gone down.”
Blues finished third from bottom in the Isthmian League Premier Division, with their last home match played at Leyton Wingate after Mayesbrook Park was deemed unfit by the ground grading committee.
But they avoided the drop after a vote at the AGM, only to suffer their first relegation a year later.
All of which makes their run to the Essex Senior Cup final and ultimate success in 1989/90 all the more surprising.
“We were big underdogs at Chelmsford, but Dave Patient was very good at getting the best out of players at the right time,” added Cooper.
“He told us we had nothing to lose and we were really good value for money for the win (1-0 courtesy of John Heffer’s goal).
“John was probably only 19 at the time, but he was a very good player, quite wiry, good on the ball, quick and he knew where the net was.
“It made us think we were actually better than we thought we were, that was the message from the more experienced players like Perry Coney and Bob Makin.”
Up next was a trip to Colchester United, where a hat-trick from Simon Quail and a Paul Rogers goal sealed a 4-2 victory.
“Simon Quail was very good on his day. He’d come from nowhere, said to Dave ‘I can play, give me a chance’ and he was unplayable that day,” said Cooper.
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“He would excel in a couple of games, but then go missing for one or two games. He was on fire, though, and everything he touched was magnificent.
“He scored two goals from 25-30 yards and we were worth the win. It was a good result, although Colchester put out a young side, as happens in Essex Senior Cup games like that.
“What a centre-forward Paul Rogers was. I saw him in Hornchurch not that long ago actually and he doesn’t look much older now!
“He was a magnificent target man and you didn’t want to get on the end of one of his elbows!”
A home semi-final against Redbridge Forest followed in the February, with Rogers, Don Brown and Quail sealing a 3-1 win after extra time, which proved particularly sweet for Cooper, who had netted Barking’s goal in an earlier 3-1 league defeat against them.
“They were flying high at the time, but played a bit of a weakened side and we were worthy winners again,” he said.
“They had money and expected to beat us, but it was a personal thing for me. They had sold me to Dagenham.”
Barking won two, drew three and lost four of their next nine league matches – while bowing out of the London Senior Cup in a replay against Hoddesdon Town – before the April 9 final against Southend ended in a 1-1 draw, with David Jarvis on target.
“We were expected to lose, but Dave said to us ‘you’ve made the final, go and enjoy it and see what happens’,” added Cooper.
“We were really disappointed we didn’t win that first game. Southend put out a strong side, there was a good crowd at Dagenham, but we thought we’d blown it.”
As it turned out, Barking ran out comfortable 4-0 winners nine days later, as Perry Coney, Tony Flynn, Jarvis and Robbie Gammons all got on the scoresheet.
And Cooper, who made 55 appearances in all competitions for Barking that season, second only to ever-present Coney’s 65, admitted it was a memorable moment in his playing career.
He added: “We scored two worldies from Perry Coney, who didn’t score many, and Tony Flynn, who scored a really, really good goal.
“Robbie Gammons was only 17 or 18 but really tenacious and Dave Jarvis played in the attacking central midfield role.
“We thoroughly deserved it, we were excellent, and I was really pleased for Dave Patient and the club. It was a fantastic club at the time, the facilties were excellent, we had a good playing staff and support from the manager and chairman.
“They are magnificent memories. The game has changed now and not many players go in the bar after, but we certainly did!”
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