Hooper Bill Image 1 Darlington 1922

Hooper Bill Image 1 Darlington 1922


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Darlington born inside forward Bill Hooper began his football career with Cockfield and Rise Carr before the First World War interrupted his progress but after the end of the First World War signed for First Division club Oldham Athletic in March 1919 where his older brother Danny was also on the books, He made his Football League debut against Chelsea in January 1920 and scored his only top flight goal against Newcastle United just over two weeks later in a 1-0 win at Boundary Park.

After 6 appearances he signed for hometown Third Division (North) club Darlington in July 1920 ahead of their inaugural Football League season with their first League match against Halifax Town the next month. After “barely a minute”, Winship crossed for Hooper to score Darlington’s first goal in the Football League; the goal came so quickly that the Northern Echo reported how Hooper could “in all probability, lay claim to the honour of being the first player to score a goal in the Northern Section of the Third Division”.he top scored with 19 goals as Darlington finished runners up in the Third Division (North) narrowly missing out on promotion. His goals total included a hat-trick in a win over Walsall in January 1922. In his second season at Feethams he scored a further 16 goals including all 4 goals in a win over Chesterfield in April 1923, again finishing as The Quakers’ top scorer. He remained in double figures in each of the next two seasons, in 1924-25 he missed only 6 matches as Darlington won the Third Division (North) Championship and promotion to the Second Division.

Hooper soon lost his place at the higher level and played only 11 times for Darlington during 1925-26 in which Darlington’s 15th place remains, as of 2020, their best ever finish before joining Rochdale in August 1926 after 63 goals in 154 appearances for Darlington. He scored once in 21 appearances for ‘Dale before a move to non league Consett in the summer of 1927 where he played through to his eventual retirement.

In 1973, Hooper was interviewed by David Frost for an edition of The Frost Programme focussing on Darlington F.C. as an illustration of the unglamorous end of football, described 40 years later by the Northern Echo as “an insight into a town’s heart-aching relationship with its football club, and a reminder of the ridiculous resilience of optimism”.

His younger brother Mark Hooper played with him at Darlington and twice won the League Championship and won the FA Cup with Sheffield Wednesday. Two other brothers, Carl and Danny, also played League football, Carl for Lincoln City, Chesterfield, Norwich City and a number of other clubs, Danny for Oldham Athletic with Bill. His uncle Charlie Roberts captained Manchester United and England.


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