Peterborough United hero was ‘proud’ of his achievements as inquest told of health problems which led to his death

Ron Cooper (right) with club historian Peter Lane
Ron Cooper (right) with club historian Peter Lane

A Posh hero who was incredibly proud of playing for the team died following a fall caused by health problems, an inquest has heard.

Ron Cooper played for Peterborough United for ten seasons and was in the team which made it to the 1965 FA Cup quarter-final, knocking out Arsenal en route.

He died at The Cedars Care Home in Bourne on April 13 last year, aged 79.

An inquest at Boston Coroners’ Court heard Mr Cooper, who lived with dementia and Parkinson’s Disease, suffered falls on a regular basis in the days before his death. During one, he sustained fractured ribs which proved to be the onset of complications leading to his death.

Speaking outside the hearing, son-in-law Mark Edwards described Mr Cooper as “immensely proud” to have played for Posh and very modest too.

Mr Edwards said: “If he were here he’d say ‘I did alright. I was an average player.’

“At one time he was the only part-timer in the squad. He was an agricultural worker and sometimes he’d go without wages to play. That summed him up – he was told ‘if you’re going to play football, you won’t get paid’ and he’d say ‘OK, I’ll play football’.”

However, two-footed full-back Mr Cooper’s dedication to Posh paid off and he was to carve a rewarding career - one end of season bonus of £1,000 enabling him to pay off half of the mortgage which he and wife Janet had.

“Playing football had a personal benefit to him but the financial aspect did allow him to provide a life for his family that he wouldn’t have otherwise been able to manage,” said Mr Edwards. “The club as always been close to his heart.”

Mr Cooper, whose grandson Sam Edwards provides commentary on Posh matches for BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, regarded the 2-1 win over Arsenal at London Road as a highlight of his career.

Meanwhile, among the goalscorers in the 5-1 defeat at Chelsea in the quarter final was Bert Murray, who was later to become a good friend and landlord of The Bull in Mr Cooper’s home town of Market Deeping.

For his long service, Mr Cooper was granted a testimonial by Peterborough United against Derby County, who had Brian Clough on the scoresheet. There was just the one Posh goal for Mr Cooper, a cherished memory at Coventry City which he “clung to”, according to his son-in-law.

The inquest heard that Mr Cooper moved into The Laurels care home in Market Deeping in 2017, which enabled his wife to maintain daily contact with him and remain involved in his care. Manageress Jacqueline Shiels said: “He was a very pleasant gentleman with a smile for everyone.”

Following one of his falls in early 2018, Mr Cooper was admitted to Peterborough City Hospital and rib fractures – sustained in a previous fall but not diagnosed - were picked up. On the advice of hospital staff, following his discharge he went to The Cedars which was more suited to his growing care needs.

His wellbeing improved but in early April he suffered a setback and his condition continued to deteriorate.

Giving a short narrative verdict, coroner Paul Smith said: “Mr Cooper died as a consequence of injuries sustained in an accidental fall, that arose from pre-existing Parkinson’s Disease and dementia, on or about March 4, 2018.”