Damien keeps the chin up. /photo: Derek Simpson
Damien keeps the chin up. /photo: Derek Simpson

COLERAINE stalwart Damien Cooper has called time on his long association with the Bannsiders.

‘Coops’, who was Kit Man at The Showgrounds for over 20 years, announced he was stepping down from the backroom role at the weekend.

The self-deprecating local man has become a part of the furniture at the Ballycastle Road venue having worked with countless managers and players over the last two decades and he has planty of highs and lows to replect on.

“Over the past 20 years I’ve been proud to help at Coleraine and I’ve seen some great players and characters come and go,” said Damien.

“I’ve been lucky to see the Irish Cup win and travel with the club into Europe and these are some of my highlights.

“The obvious lowpoint was the night against Portstewart when we thought that was the end of the club...we all had lumps in our throat and tears in our eyes that night. Thankfully, the club is in a much better situation now.

“Whilst I’ve decided to call it a day, I’ll still be around the Showgrounds on match days to cheer the boys on!”

Current Bannsiders boss Oran Kearney praised ‘Coop’s for the work he’s done and said he will be sadly missed around the place.

“Damien informed me over the weekend that he was stepping down from his role as kit man,” explained Oran.

“After 20 years of sterling work for the club he feels that the time is right to take a break.

“I’ve personally known Coops for a long time, right back to Kenny’s time at the club! As a friend that I’ve always known in football he has always had a kind word or a laugh to share.

“Professionally, since I’ve taken over as manager, the job that Damien does has been superb. He quite literally spoiled the players and looked after each one of them with the same care and attention.

“He will be sorely missed in both friendship and working terms. He is meticulous in his planning and the organisation of kits and gear for the three senior sides was always perfect and without fuss.

“He has assured me that he will pop in to see us on training nights and will still be at all the matches.”

Oran revealed that the club plan to recognise Damien’s contribution to the club in the near future.

“Having spoke to our chairman he has agreed that we will sit down to discuss a celebration of Damien’s 20 years and ensure that he gets the recognition for his service that he deserves.

“As a pre-cursor of that, I’d like to place on record my sincere thanks to Damien on behalf of all the playing and backroom staff and wish him all the best for the future. I am glad to have had the pleasure of working with Coops for the last few of his 20 years service to Coleraine FC.”