IN the midst of the World Cup, children at Bishops Tawton School welcomed their own soccer hero into the classroom this week to give an insight into the life of a league player. With their studies including a look at the World Cup, the youngsters were th
IN the midst of the World Cup, children at Bishops Tawton School welcomed their own soccer hero into the classroom this week to give an insight into the life of a league player.
With their studies including a look at the World Cup, the youngsters were thrilled by the visit of Peter Hooper, a soccer star of the 1950s and early 60s, who lives in the village.
Peter, 77, spent most of his illustrious career with Bristol Rovers and also played for Cardiff City and Bristol City.
In his heyday flying winger Peter regularly made the headlines for his tremendous goal-scoring ability. With a lethal left foot that claimed many long-range goals and an equally effective right, he remains one of only seven players to have topped 100 goals for Rovers since the club joined the Football League.
During his career Peter scored a total of 145 league goals, plus others in cup competitions. One season he was proclaimed the highest scoring winger in the country.
Among his highlights, Peter twice scored two goals against Liverpool, including one at the Kop end and was instrumental in a 3-1 win in 1959 that spoiled Liverpool's promotion hopes.
He was also a member of the Bristol Rovers team that dumped Manchester United's famous Busby Babes out of the FA Cup 4-0.
"They were top of Division 1 and beating everyone in Europe. We did not think we had a chance," said Peter. "But in the end we could have had more goals, but for their keeper Ray Wood. We were sitting in the dressing room afterwards, stunned, when Matt Busby came in and congratulated us."
There were calls from some newspaper pundits for Peter to be in the England team, playing left wing with his idol Stanley Matthews on the right! But it was not to be.
A native of Teignmouth, Peter was on amateur forms with Exeter City before going off for two years National Service.
During his time overseas in the RAF he played for his station and for Kenya against Uganda.
He came home in 1953 and joined Bristol Rovers - for a signing on fee of £10 and £7 a week wages. He lived in a club house and, as he had no car, travelled to matches on the supporters' bus.
Peter was to stay nine years with the Division 2 club and score 107 goals.
He is still fondly remembered and invited back there. His picture is also featured on the front cover of the Bristol Derby Days book.
In the early 60s a move to Cardiff City put Peter among a host of Welsh international players and a first game with Newcastle in which he scored in a 4-4 draw. He was to finish top scorer that season with 25 goals.
Then came three seasons at Bristol City -scoring in his first match against his old team Rovers! Throughout his career he never earned more than £25 a week, a far cry from modern times, said Peter. "But I would have played for nothing.