Mount Gambier prodigy David Copping was only 17 years old when coach Alan Killigrew selected him at centre half-forward for the opening of the 1960 league season. David was ‘crunched’ by a tough West Torrens opponent and suffered broken blood vessels in his legs. His Glencoe West dairy farmer parents called him home.
Back at Norwood in 1961, David played just three senior games - a pre-season cup match, the opening league game against North Adelaide and round four against Port Adelaide. He then shone in the Senior Colts. A strong, hard-at-the-ball player who could take a big mark and kicked long and accurately with either foot, David went on to win the Timor Watch Award as Norwood’s best and fairest Colts player that year.
David was ready for the 1962 season when he developed mumps and returned home to recuperate, never to play for Norwood again. Nearly six decades later a famous contemporary, Wally Miller, was still lamenting “a lost talent”.
Born at Balaklava on 25 January 1943, David was the eldest of three sons of Gordon and Patricia (Neylon) Copping. He was a natural footballer. At 13 he was selected in the SAPSASA state team that competed in Launceston. At 15 he was a follower and full forward for the Mount Gambier High School Colts (under 18) and selected at full forward for the SE & Border Football League Makin Shield team. At 16 he won the Millhouse Medal for best and fairest player in the Colts league, kicking 72 goals from centre half-forward.
After Norwood, David signed with the North Gambier Tigers in the SE & Border Football League in 1962. A 13-stone six-footer, he was selected at centre half-forward in the combined Mount Gambier team that competed in the Sunday Mail Country Championship at Whyalla in 1963. In 1964 he played at full forward and his younger brother Adrian at centre wing when North Gambier, under the coaching of former Hawthorn player Bill Cox, won the inaugural premiership of the Western Border Football League. Adrian went on to play 17 games for Norwood in 1965.
David coached Tantanoola in the Mid-SE Football League in 1967 and 1968 before rounding off his playing career with a number of seasons at West Gambier.
David was working as a bookkeeper/accountant at the OG Roberts Car Dealership when he met Judith Hammer. They married in 1965 and moved to Queensland with their daughter Michelle and son Steven in 1980. Michelle, 21, was tragically taken in a car accident in 1987. David died at 57 on 31 December 2000, survived by Judith and Steven
P Robins, G Adams Sept 2019
* We thank Adrian and Wayne Copping for their help with memories of their brother David