Sky Sports' Johnny Phillips: The day local boy Don Goodman did his thing for Wolves
When Leeds welcome Wolves to Elland Road on Wednesday night it will mark 20 years to the day since the Wanderers pulled off one of their most memorable Cup upsets.
Don Goodman scored the goal that beat George Graham’s Leeds in a dramatic FA Cup quarter-final tie on March 7, 1998. Veteran stand-in keeper Hans Segers save a late penalty to add to the drama.
Goodman, now a respected pundit and colleague at Sky Sports, grew up in Leeds in the 1970s.
“I used to pay my 50p to stand on the terraces in the boys’ pen back in the day, watching the likes of Paul Reaney, Paul Madeley, Terry Cooper, Johnny Giles, Eddie Gray, Allan Clarke and my favourite player Peter Lorimer.
“Then, as a player, they tried to buy me at least three times. I always seemed to score against them. I managed it with Bradford City, West Bromwich Albion, Sunderland and finally Wolves. A lot of those goals were at Elland Road and they gave me enormous pleasure. None of this ‘not celebrating’ rubbish!”
Wolves’ 1998 FA Cup campaign began with a 4-0 win over Darlington, with Mixu Paatelainen amongst the scorers. The Finnish international was essentially a reserve striker but with Steve Bull and Goodman injured over the New Year he seized his opportunity and scored in each round until making way for the quarter-final.
“He was somebody that defenders knew they were in for a physical challenge with. As a player I think he was maybe a bit under-rated. He was a big strong lad and off the pitch he was a great lad too. We had a good dressing room during my time at Wolves and we all got on really.
“The nice thing about doing what I do now is that I go all over the country and still see a lot of the lads from back then who have moved into coaching and it’s always great to catch up.”
Graham’s side were a force during that era and would finish fifth that season.
“It’s been such a while since Leeds have been a top team, but they were a top six team then, full of internationals,” Goodman recalls. “On their own turf it was a proper upset. Apart from the penalty save I can’t remember Hans having too much to do in goal.
“I nearly didn’t play, I’d been to see the legendary Doctor Muller Wohlfahrt in Munich a couple of weeks earlier with an Achilles problem and he fixed me up in time.”
Goodman finished off a great move in the 82nd minute, latching onto a slide rule pass from Carl Robinson before dinking the ball over Nigel Martyn from a tight angle.
“I always joke that it was just like the Kenny Dalglish goal in the European Cup Final against Bruges at Wembley. Dinking it over a keeper who comes flying out of his goal is a top option. Keepers will try as hard as they can until the last minute, but at some point most of them will commit.”
The real drama came with two minutes to go when young substitute Robbie Keane tripped Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink in the box. Segers had only made his debut the previous midweek after Mike Stowell was ruled out with stomach bug. The save from Hasselbaink was the light at the end of the tunnel after the former Wimbledon man had spent the previous two years clearing his name of match-fixing charges.
“Hans had a good track record at saving penalties,” Goodman adds. “He had a difficult period in his life. He was a great lad and he handled all that very well and was mentally very strong. He was a top goalkeeper.”
After Wolves held firm during an injury-time melee in their box when Martyn came up for a corner, they celebrated a famous victory. It set up a semi-final with double-chasing Arsenal. Controversially Bull, Keane and Dougie Freedman were left out by manager Mark McGhee in favour of recently-acquired journeyman signing Steve Claridge. After conceding an early Christopher Wreh goal, Wolves never threatened.
“They were too good for most teams in the Premier League let alone us,” Goodman remembers. “The fact we only lost 1-0 said more about our resilience. We had 10 minutes in that game just after half-time when we put them under a little bit of pressure, but that was the only time out of the 90 and they dominated us. It was a bit of an anti-climax.
“I remember feeling we got the hardest draw possible and if we’d have got one of the teams from the other semi-final [Newcastle and Sheffield United] we’d have had a fighting chance.”
The Cup run arguably kept McGhee in his job. He was sacked in November 1998 after a poor start to the following season. The 90s was a decade characterised by unfulfilled hopes and tales of what might have been with Wolves spending the entire decade in the second tier.
“In my four years we missed out in the play-offs twice and they were very disappointing losses,” Goodman says. “I’ll never forget the Bolton one [in 1995] as long as I live. How we didn’t score more in the first leg when Peter Shilton had the game of his life in goal for them and then Jason McAteer miskicked a shot that flew in over Stowelly. That was hard to take. Against Crystal Palace [in 1997] we conceded too many in the first leg down there.
“We were the nearly men, there was no question we should have reached the Premier League. So I suppose that made the quarter-final win the best memory really.”
It was perhaps typical of Wolves in the 90s that what followed in the semi-final was a damp squib. But for those who witnessed and played in it, the events at Elland Road 20 years ago are remembered with great fondness.