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Cooper salutes heroes after securing championship glory
6:35am Friday 9th May 2014 in Sport
AFC Ludlow manager Dave Cooper has hailed his heroes after clinching the West Midlands League Division Two title.
Cooper has sealed back-to-back league titles with the Showtime Stadium outfit and wants to continue in the manager’s hot-seat next season.
Ludlow finished on 54 points – the same total as Team Dudley but boasted a better goal difference - to the tune of 19 goals - than their rivals.
Ludlow’s emphatic 4-0 success at Team Dudley last Wednesday night, with a hat-trick from Dale Hodge and a goal from Marian Jusko, proved crucial.
Now Cooper is looking forward to Division One football next season.
“It’s a fantastic feeling now that we have got promotion and won the title,” admitted Cooper.
“We have been away at some very tough places and picked up some fantastic results.
“I hope to continue in the job if the chairman and committee are happy for me to do it.
“We have a couple of lads who want to come training with us, but back-to-back titles, is brilliant.
“We can look forward to playing against Hereford Lads Club, Bartestree and Ledbury Town.”
He added: “Dale Hodge scored some important goals and so, too, did my son Keanu.
“Marion Jusko put in some very important performances for us and Jamie Marsh came into the side on Wednesday night.”
Dudley needed a thumping victory at Wolverhampton Sporting Community last Saturday to upset Ludlow’s title hopes.
Dudley sailed to a 6-1 win but it wasn’t enough to overhaul Ludlow.
“I went to watch Manchester United last Saturday but we are getting together this weekend,” said Cooper.
“I have been asked to go to the end-of-season West Midlands League bash to pick up the trophy.”
Cooper admitted that the capture of Nathan Hodge at Christmas had been a catalyst for Ludlow’s outstanding second half of the season.
“Getting Nathan Hodge gave us a big lift – he played four times for us and scored 12 goals.
“Dale Hodge finished with 14 goals, while Nathan Hodge hit 12 and Keanu Cooper got 10.
“We have achieved it with Ludlow-based lads. We are giving Ludlow lads a chance – and we feel this is very important.”
Cooper said it would be hard to pick out award winners this time.
“There have been a lot of tremendous performers - Dale Hodge, Ian Havard, Kieran Dovey, Keanu, Liam Taylor, Jake Pryce and Luke Hicks have all been outstanding.”
He also praised Ludlow’s 12th man – press officer Lewis Deakin.
“Lewis Deakin has been absolutely brilliant – he has got our name out everywhere – and has done an amazing job to promote our players and club.”