Don Goodman dreaded being handed the no 9 shirt. “I never regarded myself as the main striker and was as happy to be setting goals up for others as scoring them myself,” he said. “I had not been seen as the centre-forward at Bradford, where it was mainly Bobby Campbell, or Albion. Then, at Wolves, Steve Bull was injured and Graham Taylor gave me the no 9 jersey for a while!”
International football might have come very late to him. “I had a call from St Kitts asking me to go with them but I was playing in Japan at the time with Sanfrecce Hiroshima and had just come back from a few weeks out injured. It didn’t feel right missing a month or so with them and then going off for a similar length of time to an international tournament, so I declined.”
Remember that decisive penalty in Wolves’ epic shoot-out win at home to Sheffield Wednesday in the 1994-95 FA Cup? One the striker scored for Albion carried no such prestige but possibly saved him a fine. The Baggies were losing at home to Swindon in the Second Division when Bernard McNally and Graham Harbey failed from the spot in a matter that saw manager Brian Talbot dock their wages as they had tried to place their kicks rather than drive them. Goodman took his side’s third penalty of the afternoon and powered it into the roof of the net.
The young Goodman’s hero was Peter Lorimer. He grew up a keen Leeds fan and was a ball boy there on occasions through the club’s link-up with local age-group sides. Long before he returned to Elland Road to score a dramatic late FA Cup quarter-final winner for Wolves, he was in a defensive wall at the same venue when the hot-shot no 7 was lining up one of his trademark free-kicks. “I remember standing there and thinking: ‘Please don’t hit ME.’”
Goodman was among a large group of staggered Albion players when their manager Bobby Gould – a popular forward at Wolves across two spells – settled a difference with striker Colin West by producing two pairs of boxing gloves and insisting they sorted it out ‘like men’. Gould’s bloody nose was proof of how the height advantage he had to concede was a telling factor.
Debut day at Molineux was in a side who went down to nine players. But it was for Sunderland, not Wolves, that he was making a first appearance in December, 1991. The Wearsiders were rocked by two sendings-off but were within nine minutes of taking a point until Paul Cook broke the deadlock with what proved to be the winner.
The best day of his career was spent in the West Midlands – but not at Albion or Wolves. He looks back most fondly on League One play-off final day in 2001, when he was among the scorers in helping Walsall defeat Reading 3-2 in extra-time at the Millennium Stadium, having been signed by Ray Graydon from Motherwell.
Goodman continued to train as an electrician while finding his feet at Bradford City but eventually gave football his full attention. His top wage at Valley Parade was £160 a week and he was thrilled when Ron Saunders agreed to his request for moved for £300 a week on arrival at Albion in 1987.
He didn’t exactly prove to be a lucky charm to his various managers. Ron Saunders (Albion), Denis Smith (Sunderland) and Graham Taylor (Wolves) all lost their jobs within a few months of him being recruited.
Don took his coaching badges and did some groundwork at Birmingham’s training ground but decided that avenue wasn’t for him after being left with a host of paperwork to plough through. Instead, he rang ITV’s Gary Newbon for advice on a media career and was told: “Get yourself a column in the Express & Star and do some summarising on Radio WM. If you do well, you will be picked up by BBC 5 Live and then Sky Sports.” His service to the satelite broadcaster has been outstanding and his latest assignment was Tottenham’s home win over Everton on Saturday.