Versatile Adrian Copping followed his eldest brother, David, from Mount Gambier to Norwood but dropped out after just one promising season because of a serious lower back injury. A distant cousin of Glenelg and Essendon champion Stephen Copping, Adrian was born at Balaklava on 18 February 1946, the third son of Gordon Copping and his wife Patricia, née Neylon.
Adrian at 18 played in the North Gambier team which, in 1964, won the first premiership in the newly formed Western Border Football League, embracing clubs from both SA and Victoria. He was set to join Hawthorn in 1965 before Norwood captain-coach Haydn Bunton lured him to The Parade, where he was thrilled to be presented with his No 15 jumper by the legendary ‘Wacka’ Scott.
Slight but determined, Adrian played at half-forward, on the ball and at centre for a star-studded Norwood team which started the season slowly and finished in fourth place. He was at centre, opposed to Magarey Medallist Gary Window, in the seventh round home match against Central District on 29 May when Norwood turned an eight-point first quarter deficit into a 52-point halftime lead with a 12-goal second quarter. Norwood won by 101 points. Full forward Ian Brewer kicked 10 goals that day and Ron Kneebone played his 150th game for the Redlegs. Adrian has happy memories of a post-match TV interview with Stan Wickham.
Adrian enjoyed the competitive environment at Norwood until he was injured in an incident involving Port Adelaide’s Dave Gill. Painkilling injections got him through four Reserves games, in which he kicked three goals, but head trainer ‘Tiger’ Potts declared that he would not play senior football again. He was cut from the end-of-season trip to Hong Kong, replaced by Gil Butchart, a South-East associate.
Recovering from his injury in 1966, Adrian was invited to a training run at Footscray with Ted Whitten’s team. In 1967 and 1968, while living and working at Mount Barker, Adrian was captain-coach of the local team in the new Hills Football League, which combined three established associations. Minor premier in the first year, Mount Barker finished third and fourth under Adrian before taking the next step to premierships in 1969 and 1970 under captain-coach Ian Slade.
Adrian returned to Mount Gambier for 15 years. He coached under-age teams and was president of the Western Border Junior Football League. Employed by Westfarmers Dalgety for 50 years, he switched from livestock to real estate and became real estate sales manager SA. Each year the Adrian Copping Perpetual Trophy is awarded to the standout salesperson within the Landmark Harcourt Group in SA (formerly Westfarmers Dalgety).
Adrian, who with his wife Kathy had sons Paul and Mark, was predeceased by Kathy and Mark
P Robins, G Adams Sept 2019
* Picture kindly supplied by Annabelle Greenslade of the Mount Barker Football Club