John Goodall

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John Goodall
Personal information
Full name John Goodall
Date of birth (1863-06-19)19 June 1863
Place of birth Westminster, England
Date of death 20 May 1942(1942-05-20) (aged 78)
Place of death Watford, England
Playing position Forward
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
Kilmarnock Burns
Kilmarnock Athletic
Great Lever
1885–1889 Preston North End 56 (50)
1889–1900 Derby County 211 (76)
1900 New Brighton Tower 6 (2)
1900–1903 Glossop North End 35 (8)
1903–1907 Watford 62 (14)
1910–1912 RC Roubaix
1912–1913 Mardy
National team
1888–1898 England 14 (12)
Teams managed
1903–1910 Watford
1910–1912 RC Roubaix
1912–1913 Mardy

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

† Appearances (goals)

John Goodall (19 June 1863 – 20 May 1942) was a footballer who rose to fame as a centre-forward for England and for Preston North End at the time of the development of the Football League, and also became Watford's first manager in 1903. He also played cricket in the County Championship for Derbyshire in 1895 and 1896, being one of 19 players to achieve the Derbyshire Double of playing cricket for Derbyshire and football for Derby County.

Early career

Goodall was born of Scottish parents in Westminster, London, but became an English international footballer. His brother Archie, who was born in Ireland, was capped for Ireland. As such they became the first brothers in history to play for different countries. When he was a child his parents moved to Kilmarnock, where he first learnt the 'Scottish' passing game playing for Kilmarnock Burns and Kilmarnock Athletic. Then he played for Great Lever in Bolton. He was eventually signed by Preston’s chairman and manager, Major William Sudell who had led the struggle for professionalism (once stating that stopping the inevitability of paid footballers was "like trying to stop Niagara with a three-legged stool") and had gathered a group of Scots together at Preston to form one of strongest sides in the country. Sudell gave The Football League its name and was its first treasurer.

Preston North End

Goodall signed for Preston North End at the beginning of the 1885–86 season, ultimately scoring 50 goals in 56 games for the club. He had been a part of the 1888 Cup Final team, which had lost to West Bromwich Albion but it was the following year that his fame was assured.

In that year, the inaugural season of The Football League, the Preston North End side went undefeated through their League campaign and won the FA Cup without conceding a goal to earn the club the nickname "The Invincibles".

Goodall finished the season as the League’s top scorer with 21 goals in 21 games and went on to be selected to represent the England national team against the Welsh national team.[1]

In all, Goodall was capped six times versus Wales, seven times against Scotland, and once against Ireland, scoring 12 goals. He saw his last international in 1898 having appeared at inside right, centre forward, and inside left. One opponent said of him: "his feet seemed to move in quicksilver".

Derby County

Goodall left Preston North End for Derby County in 1889 at the height of his fame. His brother Archie a centre-half, played alongside John at Derby County.

He was retained by the Derby club until 1898. It was at Derby County where the older Goodall became a mentor to Stephen Bloomer, the best goal scorer of that generation, from the start of the 1892–93 season. Bloomer allegedly credited Goodall with his early development and partly as a result of this combination, the ‘Rams’ came strongly to the fore but were never quite able to convert their talents into silverware finishing third in the League twice, runners-up once (in 1895), FA Cup semi-finalists twice, and runners-up once (in 1898).

Goodall did not feature in the 1899 FA Cup Final as he was by now fading as a first-time fixture at the Baseball Ground but in 1900–01 he was taken on by New Brighton Tower, a club based in the Wirral, that pursued an expensive policy of buying ex-internationals in order to strengthen their League status. However, at the end of Goodall’s first season the owners, citing financial difficulties, withdrew the club from the League despite finishing 4th in the Second Division of The Football League. Goodall, finally, played out his League career in relative obscurity with Glossop North End, in Derbyshire, in the Second Division.


Goodall played first-class twice for Derbyshire. In the 1895 season he made his debut in a match against Yorkshire in June when he scored a healthy 32 in his second innings to help Derbyshire to victory. In the 1896 season he kept wicket against Warwickshire in July, taking one catch in another victory for Derbyshire.[2]


He married Sarah Rawcliffe from Lancashire in Glossop and, when his playing career came to an end, moved with his wife to Hertfordshire in 1903 where he took up a position as the first player/manager of Watford of the Southern League for 3/10s/0d a week and stayed in position until May 1910, when he became the groundsman.

An Observer reporter visited Goodall in May 1903, as he prepared for the new season and, in part, wrote this:[citation needed]

His impact of his reign at Watford was immediate. The club broke various records in winning Division Two of the Southern League in 1903–04. They went through the campaign undefeated, recording the highest FA Cup victory in the club’s history (6–0 versus Redhill 31 October 1903) and having both the highest season (Bertie Banks) (21 goals) and single game goal scorer in the club’s history (Harry Barton (6 goals v. Wycombe Wanderers 26 September 1903).

Goodall played his last football game for Watford on 14 September 1907 at the age of 44 years, 87 days in a Southern League game against Bradford Park Avenue, becoming the oldest person ever to have played for Watford.[3] He came back to football in 1910 with RC Roubaix and retired in 1913 as player-manager of Mardy.[4] Thereafter, lived out a rather impecunious existence, tending to an allotment to provide vegetables for his family and forlornly walking one of his pet foxes around the town.

Goodall was the most notable of the few ‘southerners’ able to break into the new ‘professional’ game and was, in some ways, responsible for aiding the development of the game in the South of England. He was a curling player of some repute, and while at Watford he played five cricket matches for Hertfordshire County Cricket Club in 1905 and 1906.[5] In addition, he always maintained a rather strange penchant for domesticated foxes, walking them on the pitch during the interval at Deepdale.

He died in Watford in May 1942 and is buried at Watford North Cemetery in an unmarked grave.


As of 31 May 2015
Team Nat From To Record
G W D L Win %
Watford  England May 1903 May 1910 253 91 64 98 35.97
Total 144 61 33 50 42.36

Personal life

Goodall married Sarah Rawcliffe on 4 January 1887 at All Saints Church, Preston. At this stage, he was still working as an iron turner.[6]

Goalscoring record (incomplete) in Football League.[7]

Season Rank Club Division Matches played Goals scored Goals scored per match His club’s position in the league
1888–89 1st Preston North End First Division 21 21 1.00 Champions
1889–90 ? Derby County First Division 15 ? ? 7th
1890–91 8th Derby County First Division 20 13 0.65 11th
1891–92 11th Derby County First Division 22 15 0.68 10th
1892–93 12th Derby County First Division 26 12 0.46 13th
1893–94 14th Derby County First Division 29 12 ? 3rd
1894–95 ? Derby County First Division 19 ? ? 15th
1895–96 ? Derby County First Division 25 ? ? 2nd
1896–97 ? Derby County First Division 23 ? ? 3rd
1897–98 23rd Derby County First Division 22 8 ? 10th
1898–99 ? Derby County First Division 14 ? ? 9th
1899–1900 ? Derby County First Division ? ? ? 6th
1900–01 ? New Brighton Tower First Division 6 2 0.33 4th (2nd Div.)
1901–02 ? Glossop North End First Division ? ? ? 8th (2nd Div.)
1902–03 ? Glossop North End First Division ? ? ? 11th (2nd Div.)

See also

External links


  1. John Goodall : Biography at Spartacus Educational
  2. John Goodall at Cricket Archive
  3. "Watford F.C. club records". Watford F.C. 15 December 2008. Retrieved 27 October 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Bygone Derbyshire – Rare Tribute to Honest John
  5. John Goodall at Cricket Archive
  6. [1]
  7. Fußball-Weltzeitschrift No. 10, Jan/Feb 1988.
  • The Golden Boys: A Study of Watford's Cult Heroes By Oliver Phillips, Watford FC Books.