Where are they now? Shane Cocker

by Ron Head

When Shane Cocker played as a rover with the Country under fourteens in the Busselton competition, he would have laughed if someone had told him he'd be leading the West Australian ruck battery a the WACA ground a dozen years later.

A late grower, Cocker won the Busselton colts fairest and best award in 1978, before joining the Royals the year after, under the guidance of Eddie Pitter. He recalls the passion of Pitter and his abilities as a mentor. Eddie used to get a bit vocal when he was coaching, he said. I remember him dropkicking a green bin, and almost cleaning up two of his players. We still joke about it.

Cocker developed into a high leaping ruckman, with good pace and agility for his size.

Stretching to six foot five by 1982, he was selected in the league side for a confrontation with Claremont star, Graham Moss. I got him in the groin a few times, and ump Freddy Woods had a few stern words with me, Shane recalled.

Although playing fifty six games with the Royals over five seasons, the presence of ruckmen of the calibre of Alex Ischenko, John Ironmonger, Craig Edwards, and John Nolan prevented Cocker from becoming a regular member of the side, and an offer from Subiaco, who didn't boast the same ruck depth, was an opportunity to establish himself as a permanent league player.

The move proved a wise one.

Cocker not only went on to become a centurion at the Lions, but represented his State and played in a premiership side. He led the Subiaco ruck throughout the next six seasons, playing in grand finals in 1987, 88, and 91. Selected for interstate duties in 1987 and 88, he followed a memorable premiership win over Claremont with a trip to Vancouver, Canada, as a member of a State team that played an exhibition match against South Australia.

A thirty two year old in 1993, he retired after a couple of games that season. I'd lost interest, he said. Former team mate at Subiaco, Greg Carpenter, talked Cocker into pulling a jumper on for Osborne Park, in the Sunday League, halfway through the year, and he showed his retirement to be slightly premature by winning the club's fairest and best award.  Retiring for sure this time, another rethink and comeback in mid 1994 saw him take off the trophy again. 

Shane returned to Subiaco, as a runner in the reserves and looking after the youngsters for several years.

A bank manager, Cocker is still a busy man these days, but plays some basketball at Craigie Leisure Centre with son Ashley.  He and wife Joanne have another son, David, and a girl, Lisa. David prefers the round ball game, while Lisa enjoys netball.

Laurie Keene in the colts and Craig Edwards in later years were two Shane found hard to counter. Laurie was just too tall, and Craig very solid.

Shane Cocker went from a back up player to represent his State and share in a premiership. In a recent interview with Footygoss, South Fremantle and East Perth defender Gary Greer said: It's nice to be a one club player, but I think it's a good thing for players to try a change if things aren't going the way they'd like.

Shane Cocker's story is a case in point. 

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