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Departed gaffer Cooper reflects on Harlaw stint

By Grant Milne

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NEIL Cooper says he was extremely disappointed to have been relieved of his duties at Inverurie Locos.

Less than 24 hours before the Scottish Cup tie at Rothes last Saturday, a brief club statement announced that the 61-year-old was “no longer first team manager”, surprising many Highland League commentators and indeed Locos fans.

Coach Andy Low was swiftly installed as his replacement following the 2nd Round clash at Speyside, having assumed temporary charge for the game alongside assistant Steven Park.

At the time of Cooper's departure which came barely six months after signing a new contract that would have kept him at the club until 2022, the Railwaymen sat joint second in the Highland League.

Although the former Pittodrie number two did not disclose the reasoning for his departure, he defended his record at Harlaw, having guided the club to third and fifth-place league finishes in his two full seasons in charge.

He said: “I loved working at Locos, we've done really well since I've been there and we've only lost a couple games this season.

“There's other factors outwith my control and the club have decided to go down a different route.

“I brought consistency to the club.

“We didn't win any cups but we had a lot of hard draws, and we didn't go on any losing runs.

“We were always up against clubs who could pay bigger wages and pay bigger fees.

“I let a lot of boys go but also brought in guys like Neil Gauld, Chris Angus, Andy Reid and a few others.

“Even in the summer, we had two free transfers (Eric Watson and Calum Dingwall) and Sam Burnett come in on loan.

“I think it's a not bad [transfer] record for where we are in the league and I think the fans seen that.

“We played football the right way on the front foot, when we got the ball we tried to create chances and defend and I think we did that more often than not.”

Locos chairman Mike Macaulay was tight-lipped on the reasons for Cooper's departure, but said: “I have a lot of respect for Neil, he brought a lot of good things to the club and I'm quite sure Andy and Steven will pick up on the good bits.”

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