Newbold, Derbyshire born inside forward Joe Cooper played Army football during the First World War and began his peacetime football career with Sheepbridge Works in 1919 and after a trial with West Bromwich Albion, and a spell playing for Saltley College in 1920, he made his Football League debut for Second Division Sheffield Wednesday at Bristol City in May 1921 when on their books as a trialist. But he was not retained, instead joining Chesterfield in the 1921 close season.
Showing good form with The Spireites over the next two seasons, after 16 goals in 58 games he attracted a transfer bid from Second Division Notts County who signed him for £1,500 in March 1923 as they were about to be promoted to the First Division, with Cooper playing in the season’s last 6 matches, helping Notts to secure the Second Division Championship. A season in the First Division followed which produced 3 goals in 25 games before he joined Grimsby Town for £1,000 in September 1924.
He stayed eight seasons at Grimsby scoring 48 goals in 167 games, winning the Third Division (North) Championship in 1926 in a season in which he contributed 11 goals, and three years later helping secure Grimsby’s promotion to the top flight as Second Division runners up. He had three seasons with The Mariners in the First Division, however when in 1932 they were relegated Cooper joined Second Division Lincoln City that July, where he played a single season scoring 5 goals in 25 games before retiring.