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“Honest John”, the original fox in the box

Published on 6 Sep 2013 09:08 : 2 comments : 2377 views

Johnny “Allgood” Goodall, the Lionel Messi of his day, rose to fame as a centre forward for England during the first Football League in 1888. He became Watford's first manager in 1903 and 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. 

A fantastically talented player with an incredible scoring record, Goodall led the original Preston North End “invincibles” to victory in the league of 1888 without losing a single game. He was the top scorer in the league, scoring 50 goals in 56 games for the club. He became hugely popular and was always “specially greeted with enthusiasm” when he came on the pitch. 

During his career, Goodall was as famous for his outstanding conduct as he was for his scoring abilities, as well as his bizarre, eccentric love of tame foxes. Goodall would show off his pet foxes to thrilled fans by parading them around the pitch at half time and, in his later years, he could regularly be spotted walking them on leads around the streets of Watford. 

In March 1888, William McGregor, a director of Aston Villa, circulated a letter suggesting ten or twelve of the most prominent clubs in England combine to arrange home and away fixtures each season. A month later the first Football League was formed. It consisted of six clubs from Lancashire (Accrington, Blackburn Rovers, Burnley, Everton and Preston North End) and six from the Midlands (Aston Villa, Derby County, Notts County, Stoke, West Bromwich Albion and Wolverhampton Wanderers). The first season of the Football League began on September 8th and Preston North End won the first championship without losing a single match with Goodall as their star player. 

Goodall left Preston North for Derby Country in 1889. His new Club printed a letter written to Goodall on behalf of his fans declaring him “the most brilliant forward of the age” and “the brightest ornament” in “the truly British game of football”. His fine character was held in such universal esteem that he became affectionately known as “Honest John” and “Johnny Allgood”.

Goodall left Derby County in 1899 having scored 76 goals in 211 games for the club. He went on to play for New Brighton Tower, Glossop, Watford, Racing Club Roubaix and Mardy before he retired.

Head of Genes Reunited Rhoda Breakell said; “John Goodall appears to have been a man of outstanding character as well as outstanding ability. During his career he made massive contributions to the game during a pivotal period in the sport’s history as well as inspiring generations of players yet to come.

“Our research shows us that the history of this country is filled with men like John, who are often overlooked but deserve to be remembered. Searching through old newspapers, dating back to 1700, on Genes Reunited, offers a fantastic way to unearth your own amazing family stories and provides an excellent resource for those interested in everything from sporting history to vintage cookery books. You could be descended from a great sporting hero like John and not even know it, so log on and find out!”



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by Duncan on 8 Sep 2013 13:57 :
A slightly tenuous lin to this story is that of my great great grandfather's brother James "Kenny" Davenport - "Almost certainly, Kenny Davenport is credited with scoring the first ever Football League goal in the world. On 8 September 1888, when the Football League played its first matches, Davenport had scored a hat-trick within the first five minutes for Bolton Wanderers FC against Derby County FC."
Duncan Cope :-)
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by Community on 9 Sep 2013 16:55 :
That's great info - thanks for sharing Duncan :-)