October 23 2014 Latest news:
Monday, November 18, 2013
As Gary Hooper smashed home his first Premier League goal for Norwich City he was not only kick-starting the Canaries’ season, but creating a unique record at the same time.
His equalising penalty against West Ham sparked City’s second-half charge to a hugely needed 3-1 win and opened his Premier League account in his fourth league start.
The goal has written him into pub quiz folklore as he has now scored in every league in English football, including the Conference and Conference South, as well as the FA Cup, League Cup and Football Trophy.
When combined with his three seasons in Scotland with Celtic, which saw him score in the Champions League, Europa League, Scottish Premier League and Scottish cups, it makes for a remarkable achievement.
None of it comes as a surprise to his first senior manager though.
Norwich City - 7 matches, 1 goal
Norwich City - 2 matches, 2 goals
Southend United - 6 matches, 2 goals
Scunthorpe United - 4 matches, 1 goal
UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE
Celtic - 7 matches, 2 goals
(plus 6 matches, 3 goals in qualification rounds)
UEFA EUROPA LEAGUE
Celtic - 6 matches, 2 goals
Celtic - 95 matches, 63 goals
SCOTTISH FA CUP
Celtic - 13 matches, 3 goals
SCOTTISH LEAGUE CUP
Celtic - 11 matches, 9 goals
Scunthorpe United - 35 matches, 19 goals
Scunthorpe United - 47 matches, 24 goals
Southend United - 13 matches, 2 goals
Leyton Orient (Loan) - 4 matches, 2 goals
Hereford United (Loan) - 19 matches, 11 goals
Scunthorpe United - 3 matches, 2 goals
FOOTBALL LEAGUE TROPHY
Scunthorpe United – 5 matches, 2 goals
Grays - 40 matches, 8 goals
Grays - 29 matches, 12 goals
Mark Stimson was the man to give Hooper his first chance, with non-league Essex side Grays Athletic, where he scored 20 goals in two seasons.
Former Gillingham manager Stimson, now in charge of Thurrock in Isthmian League Division One North, said: “I was working in the academy at Spurs at under-10 or under-11 and Gary was there but a couple of years older at the time.
“I took over the job at Grays and when Gary was released by Tottenham I took him over to Grays as a 15-year-old. He trained with the first team and didn’t look out of place.
“Then when he left school he signed for us and played in the FA Trophy final at Villa Park when he had just turned 17, which was a great achievement, and he progressed from there.
“When I first saw him he was at a young age and I first looked, as I still do to this day, at his first touch and at 15 he had a very good first touch.
“He wasn’t filled out fully at that age, as you would expect, but his touch was very good and in front of goal if your first touch is good then it sets up the second touch to test the keeper or score.”
Hooper was in good company at Grays, with team-mates such as Michael Kightly, Aaron McLean and Freddie Eastwood all to go on to play in the top divisions of English football.
Hooper followed Eastwood to Southend when the Shrimpers were in the Championship, after Stimson had moved to Stevenage Borough and unsuccessfully tried to take Hooper with him.
Southend did not work out for Hooper before he kick-started his career with successful loan spells in League One with Leyton Orient and then League Two with Hereford.
Those spells persuaded Nigel Adkins to pay £175,000 top take him to Scunthorpe United. Two seasons and 48 goals later Celtic handed the Iron £2,4m to take Hooper north of the border, where he plundered a further 82 goals.
Stimson, who was Norwich manager Chris Hughton’s boot boy as a trainee at Spurs, continued: “With forwards you are only as good as your service and if he gets that, he’ll deliver. A couple of years ago I was lucky enough to go and watch Celtic v Rangers and Gary got a couple that day.
“He got a lot of chances in that Celtic side and would always finish nine out of 10 so if the Norwich boys can give him chances, he’ll score, that will never leave him.
“One thing he’ll do is work hard. He won’t get too high or too low because he has been brought up well, I think he will surprise a few people because he is quicker than he looks.”
Stimson got a close look at Hooper’s progress in May, when he managed him for a charity match played at Stevenage Borough.
The match was in memory of former Stevenage player and West Ham trainee Mitchell Cole, who died at the age of 27 in December 2012 because of a heart condition, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
Stimson managed the Mitchell Cole XI, which featured several West Ham stars, as well as Hooper.
“Celtic were great and let Gary come down to play 45 minutes,” Stimson said. “In the team I managed were Kevin Nolan, Mark Noble, Joe Cole and Andy Carroll, and they were like a club side, Gary slotted in with them perfectly.
“So I was looking at them and thinking why haven’t West Ham come in for him? But obviously Norwich were persistent and got him in the end.
“He got a couple of niggles and missed a few games but as long as he gets games and good service, and they’ve got a couple of good wide boys at Norwich in Snodgrass and Pilkington, he’ll score goals.”