Hooper’s a Hoop

Posted by on Jul 27, 2010 in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Does Gary Hooper know something no one else does? As was recently documented here, players have been clamouring to leave the Old Firm this summer, swapping Champions League football for the Championship and Glasgow for the dubious charms of Teesside (maybe the local post-pub delicacy appeals to the palettes of those raised on square sausage and deep-fried Mars Bars?). And yet Hooper today bucked the trend, signing for the Scottish club from Scunthorpe in a £2.4m deal.

It’s not like he was short of suitors south of the border, with Leeds, Derby and my own Newcastle allegedly keen. Perhaps he had a sign from above? The sort of sign that Plymouth striker Rory Fallon is waiting for – though perhaps not as eagerly as Pilgrims fans

In truth, Hooper isn’t the first Championship star to be poached by new Hoops boss Neil Lennon, Cardiff midfielder Joe Ledley having already been wrested from his hometown club Cardiff. Some might scoff at the deal (and the price tag), uncharitably suggesting that he has a lot to do to prove himself. But, as the exodus to Middlesbrough indicates, the gulf in class and quality between Championship and Old Firm is now negligible and certainly nothing like much of the still-fanatical support of either Celtic or Rangers would have you believe.

But all that is to detract from the fact that Hooper is a player who’s risen up from non-league football with Grays Athletic through merit and who’s earned his opportunity on a much bigger stage than Glanford Park. Banging in 30 goals in all competitions during Scunthorpe’s promotion season was one thing; following that up with 19 league goals at the higher level (and thereby securing the survival of a side widely tipped to return immediately from whence they came) was another thing entirely. Hooper had already watched as strike partner Paul Hayes moved on to ostensibly better things with Preston, so when Celtic came knocking he was no doubt as receptive to them as his employers were to the sight of wads of cash.

Speaking for the first time as a Celtic player, Hooper greenly confessed: “It’s the first time I’ve travelled abroad for a game”. Turns out he was talking about Portugal and tomorrow night’s Champions League qualifier against Braga rather than Scotland…

Ben
Ben is a long-suffering Newcastle Utd supporter (is there any other kind?) who co-founded and co-wrote Black & White & Read All Over, a blog that, over the course of a decade, chronicled the ups, downs, chaos and calamity of the club he has the misfortune to follow. Since the blog hung up its boots in May 2014 (note: not as a mark of respect for Shola Ameobi leaving St James’ Park), he has contented himself with sporadic, splenetic Twitter outbursts and shamefully rare contributions to The Two Unfortunates. He is currently haunted by visions of Joe Kinnear returning to the club for a third spell and pondering whether he’ll live to see another victory over the Mackems, but at least has a cardboard coathanger with Robert Lee’s head on it for consolation.

3 Comments

  1. Lanterne Rouge
    July 30, 2010

    I fervently hope Hooper does well as it will reflect very well on our league if he bangs in a hatful. Certainly, he has pace and a goal poaching abilities which are both more important than size and strength. We profiled him early in our Monday profile series of course.

    Reply
  2. Lloyd
    July 31, 2010

    Do you mean this profile, LR?

    I wish GH all the best, for sure, but I can't help feeling that Celtic may have been a little over zealous with the amount they've paid for his services. Plenty of Iron fans were lauding Paul Hayes as the main man last term, and he was their Player of the Year rather than Hooper. That the elder of the two has gone for exactly £2.4m less just shows you what a reputation costs these days.

    Fingers crossed that Scunny can invest the proceeds wisely. I'm sure they will.

    Reply
  3. Can the rule of Laws be re-established at Scunthorpe United? | The Two Unfortunates
    November 8, 2012

    […] and Adkins manages in the Premier League. They were both never going to be with us forever: but the sale of Hooper for £2.4 million when safety was worth close to £7 million (net) to Scunthorpe United in extra revenue per annum […]

    Reply

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