Tonight’s meeting with Motherwell and Hamilton will provide a tense, energetic environment that a Lanarkshire Derby always seems to bring.
‘Well may be aggrieved looking at the league table, fighting a relegation battle, whilst the Accies are battling to stay in the top half of the table.
However, one person shares links with both sides of Lanarkshire, as he was born in Hamilton, and was also a member of the Motherwell side that won the Scottish Cup in 1991.
That man was the late great Davie Cooper, and this Monday marks the 20th anniversary since the Scottish international tragically passed away at Broadwood, following a brain haemorrhage, whilst recording a coaching film for Scottish television.
Former Motherwell player and chief executive Pat Nevin has praised the late great winger, in an interview at Glasgow Caledonian University last month.
He said: “We never met a great deal, but I can remember watching him and thinking “yeah I like that, I want to try those moves.
“Anyone I watched that I admired, I would just to try and learn every trick they did and some guys there are just no point in trying because you can’t do it.
“There was no point in me trying to learn those free kicks, as you have to have this natural way of moving your body, and it was stunning. I just admired him as a footballer.”
When discussing Cooper, Nevin was sombre, and he reminisced about other sad occasions, such as the death of his friend Phil O’Donnell, in which a minute’s silence has been observed at Fir Park in the first home game after Christmas for the past seven years, and his work with heart foundation charities.
He believes health care within Scottish football has changed dramatically over the years and described one of his first moments as chief executive of the Claret and Amber.
“When I moved up to Motherwell I asked who done the heart screening and got told we do not do that up here. I was stunned! I said ‘well we do now, that gets done’.
“I told the SFA to bring it in and we pay for this, and got told they couldn’t afford it. Okay I’ll blame you when one of our players dies then. It was a grossly sad thing.”
Despite the plans to implement heart screening in Scottish football in 1998, it sadly became too late for former youth player Andy Thomson who tragically passed away from a heart condition at 19 years of age.
When Fabrice Muamba collapsed at White Hart Lane in February 2012, following a heart attack which stopped his heart for 78 minutes, it prompted health care to be seriously implemented within sport.
Nevin is glad that Motherwell led the way to do improve the health image at the club and is grateful that it still happens to this day in the country.
“Everyone you lose hurts and you think is there anything you could have done, and I may have thought that with Davie. He is still sadly missed.”
Davie’s legacy lives on until this day, and the Fir Park North Stand is now named the Davie Cooper stand, whilst there is a statue of him at Hamilton Sports Palace.