John Cooper

John Cooper was a part of my social life for about 30 years starting in the early 1960s. As an Old Wilsonian the Old Bromleians FC were regarded as our major rivals. This was something which I probably helped to increase as the years rolled by, not least, by starting a hotly-contested Veterans Cup on an annual basis.


He was the publican of the Plough Inn at the bottom of Bromley Hill. As there had been a few local motoring accidents it was situated by two “black spot” signs. The sort of thing that happened in those days. I suggested they had been erected by the brewers.


Banter was a major part “Coop’s” make-up and very few successfully took him on. I remember suggesting the mustard served with my ham sandwich was a little light only for a 5-pint catering pot to be slammed on the bar.


He was the best publican I ever saw and the pub was always full of fun and laughter. It was like being in a special club. One customer was an Irish rugby player, Paddy Solan, who was always trying to get “Coop” to serve a drink after hours. This was something he was far too professional to ever consider.


However, one evening, as 11pm approached, Paddy nipped out to his car. “Coop” instructed me to shoot the bolt and when Paddy tried to return the door was locked. He was forced to stand outside peering through the window, his nose resting on one of the small window frames, as “Coop” poured us all an after-hours drink “on the house”. Paddy never asked him again.

“Coop” was a lovely guy, devoted to his Old Bromleians FC which continued even when it was transformed into various different manifestations. He was equally keen on AFA football in general to which he was a great servant.

When he took retirement it was a huge blow to all his customers and it was never the same again and would soon close to become a Majestic wine shop.

A highlight of the year was the Boxing Day morning game between the Plough and the Old Bromleians. It took me years to get an invite but in 1974 I made it, on the field.

The cutting below is from Whitbread News followed by two team pictures.

As far as I can recall the characters in both are (left to right) Back row: “Coop” (his hands on the shoulders of Kay, his wife), Dennis Studley (ex-England amateur and Bromley centre-forward), Bob Prosser (Old Bromleians), Fred Price and Jimmy Sheehan (both Bromley), Roy Potter (Kent League player whose brother, Ray, was a Palace keeper), me (Old Wilsonians FC). Front row: Les Nelson (Bromley and Dulwich Hamlet) Dave Skinner, John Cowland, ANOther, Bob Spillane (all OBFC). Also there are one of “Coop’s” daughters and a small boy!

RIP mate

Bob “the Cat” Beven


Bob "the Cat" Beven

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