1970s Team of the Decade
Club Champion 1972-73
1st XI Premiership player 1973-74
1st XI Batting 1969/70
1st XI Bowling 1976-77
1st XI Cap No. 335
Ian passed away peacefully on 14 December 2021 after a long, brave fight with cancer. He was 75 years old.
Humper first joined Hampton Cricket Club in 1967 and then again on his return from WA in 1972. Brothers Bill, Graeme, Russell, Raymond, Noel, Colin and Laurie followed to create, along with Russ’s wife Josephine, a Cooper dynasty at Hampton. What a family – what a contribution!
In the words of the late Jim Kenny, Humper “had a touch of magic about his game; he often did the improbable … occasionally the impossible.” He was a right arm fast/medium bowler and powerful left-handed batter. A great slip fieldsman – as good as Hampton has seen.
Humper played almost exclusively in the first XI, displaying a great determination to impact every game he played – yet finding humour in even the direst situation. He was an attacking middle order bat plus he opened the bowling, winning the bowling averages in 1976/77 to complement the batting average won in 1969/70. Contemporaries cannot recall him dropping a catch – he had soft, bucket-like hands. He was a great field in any position.
John Wintle recalls a game where Hampton had to beat Highett to avoid relegation. We were 8 down with 70 runs required when Wints joined Humper at the crease with only Jim Kenny, nursing a broken arm, to come. Humper told Wints to play no shots and “he would get the runs”. With 7 to get Wints hit a six and Humper strode down the wicket and tore strips off him for failing to obey orders! Wints was run out the next ball but with Humper safe at the batting end he scored the winning runs next ball with the injured Kenny struggling from the other end. Relegation avoided.
Humper played 69 VFL games for St Kilda from 1964 to 1969, kicking the first ever goal at Moorabbin. He was selected in the Victorian team in 1968. Humper was not just a member of their only premiership team – most scribes believe he would have won the Norm Smith medal in the Grand Final had one been awarded in those days. A vote by the Herald Sun reporters awarded him BOG by a large margin. An untimely and debilitating bout of Rheumatic fever ended his VFL career in 1969 but he recovered sufficiently to play for Swan Districts in the WAFL and was also selected in the WA State team in 1971. Humper returned to Victoria in 1972 and played at Sandringham in the VFA, kicking 104 goals in the 1973 season despite lingering effects of the illness. He subsequently coached Hampton Rovers in 1980 and 1981.
Ian Cooper was a larger-than-life character – always up for a laugh and a teller of tall tales – an inspirational player in every team in which he played. He made things happen and he made people laugh. He will be greatly missed.
Condolences to Ian’s immediate family Jill, Sarah, Kathryn and Joanne and to the broader Cooper clan.
Ian “Humper” Cooper
2 April 1946 – 14 December 2021