Notable for playing his part in some of Wolves’ most memorable FA Cup fixtures of the 1990s, there was one afternoon at Elland Road in particular that stands out in the mind of Don Goodman.
In the third edition of Wolves’ new My Golden Game podcast, the popular former striker recalls how his delightfully-chipped effort against Leeds United back in March 1998 helped the club into their first FA Cup semi-final in 17 years.
Goodman, a Leeds supporter who stood on the terraces at Elland Road and was even a ball boy for the club as a child, reflects with podcast host Mikey Burrows on a special game and goal in his footballing career, and one which will live on fondly in the memories of Wolves fans.
On being remembered for his FA Cup exploits
“I get asked about three games in particular. The first is the penalty shootout where Sheffield Wednesday came to Molineux. Any of the fans that were there that night can remember it because I think it’s still the only time a team have been 3-0 down in a penalty shootout and actually managed to win it.
“Obviously, it was infamous because Chris Waddle took his first and only penalty after the World Cup finals miss, so it was a big night and Sheffield Wednesday were a Premier League team at the time and we managed to pull that off.
“The second game is another FA Cup game where Leicester came to Molineux and people talk to me about David Kelly’s diving header where him and I ran the length of the pitch. I think it might have won Goal of the Month on Match of the Day.
“We beat Leicester, another Premier League team, 1-0 and they were managed by Mark McGhee, ironically. So we managed to put one over on Leicester, and the final game is another cup game, so it seems that in my Wolverhampton Wanderers career, although there were many happy moments in the league games as we were trying to aspire to the Premier League, it seems the poignant ones and the ones the fans talk to me about all coincidentally happened in cup games.”
On overcoming injury ahead of quarter-final
“I had a bit of an injury that Mark McGhee was nursing. Ultimately, he sent me off to Munich to get ready for this quarter-final. I went to see the famous Dr Muller-Wohlfahrt, that all the athletes and footballers go and see and he worked a minor miracle on my achilles.
“There was a doubt that I’d be fit enough to play, but that particular section of the season was just me trying to manage a bit of a niggly injury, which is probably as big a reason as why I wasn’t playing every single game.
“I was gong through a faze with this achilles injury at the time where I was having to warm-up for a warm-up! I was literally jumping on a bike in the gym at Molineux, or on away games I would have to take one of those individual trampolines to just get this achilles moving. I would have to get it moving before I could even go out and do the warm-up.
“But it was in the era where you played through the pain unless it was literally not possible, so there wasn’t really a game in that period when I wasn’t in a little bit of pain. There was every chance I wouldn’t have been fit enough to take my place in the team that day.”
On facing a very strong Leeds side
“I think it’s safe to say they were an established ‘top six’ Premier League club in those days, so the fact that it was the quarter-finals of the FA Cup and they had a championship team on their own patch, so they were real favourites to win the game and progress to the semi-finals.
“We recognised they were a very good team, we recognised they had the tools to hurt us, especially with Harry Kewell, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Rod Wallace – a good striker, nippy, quick – so, we had to really stifle them and stifle the supply.”
On switching tactics
“Mark McGhee decided to bring an extra defender in and play with three central defenders, but he would also have myself, Bully and Dougie Freedman – three up top – to occupy their defence.
“They wanted to pass the ball out from the back and we wanted to stop them from doing that, so I remember that being part of the gameplan. Also, when they had the ball, one of us would drop back into midfield to plug up the gaps.
“I have to say, it was an absolute masterclass from Mark McGhee and the three central defenders, Curley [Keith Curle], Dean Richards and Ady Williams, on the day were outstanding to the point where although Hans [Segers] was required later in the game to make a brilliant penalty stop, he didn’t really have anything other than routine saves to make during the game.”
On causing problems for the Leeds defence
“It was a game plan we managed to work pretty well, but at the same time, we had to cause them problems the other way.
“Looking back at the highlights of the game recently, we caused their defenders quite a few problems on the day and ‘kept them honest’ for want of a better phrase.
“I don’t remember ever being under such intense pressure that we would crack, it was a good all-round performance.”
On scoring the winning goal
“We were very patient, and the only reason I found myself in the position was because I made a run from the left across to the right to make myself available for an out-ball.
“As Carl Robinson got the ball, I recognised their was space at the back of a Leeds player who was ball-watching, I made the run, Carl spotted it, and in the end it was a good patient passing build-up and a good all-round team goal than people realise.
“The one thing I do remember about my part in the goal, was how terrible my first touch was. I didn’t get the ball anywhere near where I wanted and I’m pretty confident that first touch, which went a little wider than I wanted it in an ideal world is what drew Nigel Martyn off his line to think he might be able to charge it down.
“Of course, once he did that, there was only one thing in my mind.
“Throughout my career, I always had a habit of lifting the ball over goalkeepers who threw themselves at your feet anyway, so it all fell perfectly. I was able to chip it over him and into the far corner of the net.
“The rest as they say is history. It was a wonderful moment.”