Mark Cooper, son of Exeter City’s championship-winning manager Terry Cooper, was on the club’s books during his father's most successful season. After later establishing himself in the team Mark moved on to Birmingham City and Fulham before returning to St James’ Park to play another ninety or so times for the Grecians. After switching to Hartlepool United, Mark dropped into non-league football ahead of a lengthy managerial career that saw him taking charge of clubs such as Tamworth, Peterborough, Darlington, Swindon, Notts County, Forest Green, Barrow and Yeovil.
Mark started as a Bristol City trainee in 1985 and, after turning professional in September 1987, was released without playing a first-team game to join his father at Exeter City in October 1989. Making his Grecians debut as a substitute at Peterborough United on 7 October 1989, Mark was a fringe player during City’s 1989/90 Fourth Division title-winning campaign as he made just one full start together with three appearances from the bench. He was more involved in cup games and scored his first goal for the club in the FA Cup at Maidstone in December 1989.
Having had a short spell on loan at Southend towards the end of his first season at Exeter, Mark went on to feature on a regular basis during City’s opening campaign in the third-tier as he stealthily accumulated 64 league and cup outings - with thirteen goals along the way - by the time he followed his father to Birmingham City in September 1991.
Arriving at Birmingham in exchange for Eamonn Dolan, Mark made 39 league appearances prior to joining Fulham for £40,000 in November 1992. After little more than a year at Fulham - which included a loan stint at Huddersfield Town - and a month at Wycombe Wanderers, Mark returned to Exeter City in February 1994.
With the Grecians facing a return to the fourth-tier, Mark proved a useful asset although he couldn’t prevent the club’s relegation. Remaining with Exeter as the club finished at the foot of the Football League in 1994/95, Mark played on until the end of the following season as he made 97 appearances in all competitions - with 20 league goals and one in the EFL Trophy - during his second but more productive stay at St James’ Park.
Mark ultimately left Exeter for Hartlepool in July 1996 and later appeared for newly-promoted Macclesfield Town before making his final Football League appearance in the colours of Leyton Orient in January 1998. He then played in the Conference for Rushden and Diamonds and, having also appeared for Hednesford Town and Forest Green, signed for Tamworth in May 2002 where he was to become manager during the summer of 2004.
Spending two-and-a-half years in charge at Tamworth, Mark then managed Kettering Town (winning Conference North) before entering Football League management with a short-lived stay at Peterborough United between November 2009 and February 2010. He then returned to the Conference with just-relegated Darlington in June 2010 before a short appointment back at Kettering as caretaker-manager and just a few games in charge at AFC Telford United.
Back in the Football League with Swindon Town as assistant-manager in January 2013, and taking the helm at the County Ground in August 2013, Mark remained with the Wiltshire until his dismissal in October 2015. He then had a few months as boss of Notts County before a successful five-year tenure at Forest Green Rovers between May 2016 and April 2021 when he guided the Nailsworth club to promotion to the Football League in 2017 and League Two play-offs in 2019 and 2021. Leaving the club by “mutual consent”, Mark spent a year as manager of Barrow ahead of his appointment at Yeovil Town in October 2022 where - as he inherited former Exeter defender Chris Todd as his assistant - he failed to save the Somerset club from relegation to National League South at the end of 2022/23.