Six red cards for Santa, football's biggest bad boy

Paul Cooper (c) Borders Press AgencyRoy Keane? Vinnie Jones? Eric Cantona?

The debate over football's biggest bad boy has filled many a post-match conversation in pubs up and down the UK... but now there's a new contender to the throne!

Hawick United's Paul Cooper, nicknamed 'Santa', has put the exploits of all of these notorious players in the shade by receiving six red cards... in one match!

Cooper, 39, was playing for club website side Hawick United against Pencaitland in the Border Amateur League in November when he picked up a second yellow card of the game.

As his marching orders followed, Cooper then saw red in more ways than one.  A heated exchange with referee Andy Lyon ensued and the player picked up a further five red cards as he left the pitch.

The moment of madness has lead to a £150 fine for the club and a two-year ban for Cooper, leaving the rueful player to reflect on a punishment that has effectively ended his career.

"I overreacted and said things to the ref I shouldn't have, but I felt so frustrated as I honestly wasn't to blame for the incident that led to my dismissal," he said.

"After the game I went to see the referee in his dressing room and I apologised to him for losing it. I expected a six-month ban and was stunned to get two years."

Hawick UtdHawick United manager George Shepherd was angry at the decision.

"Paul was wrong in what he did but to get a two-year suspension is way over the top," he said. "He is a very good player and will be a big miss to Hawick United."

The Scottish Amateur Football Assocation said that the matter had been "properly dealt with."

Secretary Hugh Knapp said that the player was "given the opportunity to attend a hearing but decided not to" and that the "matter is closed."

Cooper, who declined to go to the Hampden Park hearing as it "meant taking a day off work" may now wish he'd reconsidered, reflecting that his days as a player were over.

"I'm 39 and I felt I could play on for another couple of years but those years have gone now," he said.

"I will just have to find something else to do on Saturdays. I'm gutted because I love my football."

Have your say!

Ever heard of someone getting multiple red cards in one game? Do you think the ban was harsh or fair?

Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

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