Cult Heroes: Don Goodman

Today we welcome a man that once said when asked about Sunderland fans; "They're the type who spend all their dole money on watching their team" - Big Don Goodman!

While Goodman is often remembered for that cracking afro he sported during most of his career his achievements in the game weren't too shabby either. Goodman led the line for twelve clubs over the course his twenty year career, making 576 league appearances with a return of 160 goals.

Goodman's footballing career began at Bradford City, signing his professional papers in July of 1984, where he would go on to win a Championship medal in his first season. During his three seasons with The Bantams Goodman would face his own personal tragedy from the Valley Parade disaster as the fire claimed the life of the young forward's ex-girlfriend.

Despite being a natural athlete who was not afraid to roll up his sleeves and get stuck in it took a move to West Bromwich Albion in 1987 to really define the striker's all round game. Goodman credit's Andy Gray and former Manchester United striker, then WBA coach, Stuart Pearson as the determining factors in adding more goals to his game:

I wasn't prolific in my early days but as a young lad you couldn't help but learn from Andy. Then Stuart was brought in and I found him very beneficial.

Goodman spent four years with The Baggies and grabbed and impressive sixty goals during that time however his form alone was not enough to save West Brom from relegation to the third tier of English football in 1991 - for the first time in their history.

However Goodman would soon be part of a £900,000 deal which would see the forward move to Roker Park in December of 1991, signed as a direct replacement for the departing Marco Gabbiadini. As if the pressure of being a then record transfer fee wasn't enough he certainly had big boots to fill.

Thankfully Don found his feet quickly at Roker Park and would grab a hat-trick in his seventh appearance against Millwall and go on score eleven goals in his first twenty-four appearances, two as a substitute, which was enough to take him to the top of the club's goalscoring charts.

Unfortunately for both Goodman and the club he would be forced to watch the 1992 Wembley FA Cup Final against Liverpool due to being cup-tied, an appearance in the first round for West Brom against Marlow scuppering his chances of walking out onto the hallowed turf.

While 1992/93 was not a season to write home about, as the club narrowly avoided relegation, Goodman's goalscoring exploits that term were a major contributing factor in the side's survival - sixteen goals from forty-one appearances.

Goodman's consistent performances and goals helped him become a firm fan favourite with the Roker Park crowd during his spell in the North-East, appreciating the big fella's style of play and commitment to the cause.

Ultimately however Sunderland would not prove to be the vehicle to help Goodman achieve his aspirations of playing in the Premier League that he hoped and a transfer seemed inevitable.

Goodman would later be part of a £1.1m deal between Sunderland and Wolves which saw the club make a small profit on their original outlay. Don would then have a number of clubs as his career entered its later stages; Sanfrecce Hiroshima in Japan, Motherwell, Barnsley, Walsall, Exeter City, Doncaster Rovers and finally Stafford Rangers before finally hanging up his boots and pursuing a successful career as a football pundit.

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