|750 not out for the "Goalie"|
Today should have been another milestone in a remarkable career for Andy Goram - his 750th club game, but with the postponement of the match with Caley Thistle, 'The Goalie' will now have to wait until next week at Paisley before he reaches the magic figure. The story commenced back in 1981 when Andy made his debut for Oldham Athletic as a 17 year old. He turned out 215 times for the Lancashire club and while at Boundary Park collected the first of 43 caps for Scotland. "It was against East Germany at Hampden" he said. "I came on for Jim Leighton early in the second half and it finished in a 0-0 draw."
He then joined Hibs and made 162 appearances for the Edinburgh side and during his spell at Easter Road he actually scored two goals in the same season. "I remember them both" said Andy. "The first was a penalty against Clydebank in the League Cup and the other was from a kick-out against Morton which went right over their keepers head and into the net."
In 1991 he was transferred to Rangers in a £1 million deal and spent seven eventful years at Ibrox making a total of 260 appearances. He featured in 26 `Old Firm' clashes (losing only four), also numerous matches in European competitions against great sides such as Marseilles, Juventus and Ajax. "And all three of them went on to eventually win the Cup" said Andy.
In 1991 he was transferred to Rangers in a £1 million deal and spent seven eventful years at Ibrox making a total of 260 appearances. He featured in 26 `Old Firm' clashes (losing only four), also numerous matches in European competitions against great sides such as Marseilles, Juventus and Ajax. "And all three of them went on to eventually win the Cup" said Andy. His most memorable game for the `Gers was a match against Celtic at Parkhead. "Gazza missed from the spot but then I saved a last minute penalty and we won 1-0 to clinch the League Championship" he recalls. Two other matches he vivedly remembers were the `Battle of Britain' clashes with Leeds United in 1992 and 1993. "They were both tremendous games" he said. He departed Ibrox on a rather sad note, losing 2-1 to Hearts in the 1998 Scottish Cup final and recalls "It was the end of an era for nine of us and we wanted to go out in style. But it wasn't to be and I'm not ashamed to admit that we were all in tears after the final whistle."
After brief spells with Notts County and Sheffield United he returned north of the Border, signing for Motherwell. He played 69 matches for the Fir Park side and was a team-mate of a former Queens' favourite Derek Townsley who Andy describes as a "really nice guy." While at Motherwell he was contacted by Sir Alex Ferguson to help him out during a keeper crisis at Old Trafford. He answered the call and mixed with stars such as Beckham, Giggs and Keane. "Most of the guys were great and no different from anyone else" he admits. "Becks and Giggsy were smashing lads. Roy Keane — well let's just say he was a dedicated professional but different."
His next move was to Coventry then back to Oldham for a very brief 4 game stint before John Connolly snapped him up for Queens during the close season. Andy's proudest moment since coming to Palmerston was helping the club win the Bells Cup at Broadwood. Said Andy "It was a great day for Queens and for Dumfries. Although I was very happy myself I was even more delighted for the rest of the boys that day. Just to see the delight on their faces gave me much more satisfaction. They're a great bunch of lads and I'd compare the atmosphere in the dressing room second only to Ibrox in the halcyon days of Gazza and McCoist. They're part time players with a full-time attitude and most of them travel over 500 miles a week between training and actual matches, I really admire them.
"When I first signed for Queens a lot of people thought I was at Palmerston just to mess about, but I think I've proved them wrong. I love it to bits down here — I just love playing football full stop. "I also love the town of Dumfries and have made many friends since coming here. It was an honour to be asked to switch on the Christmas lights last month. I did it once before with `Coisty' in Belfast — I quite enjoy doing anything like that. I'm now staying down at Rockcliffe. It's so quiet and peaceful down there and no one bothers you. But my `second home' is the Townhouse Hotel in Dumfries and I'd like to say a personal `thank you' to my good friend Alex McDonald for putting me up there those past few months."
Now 38, Andy admits he'd like to carry on playing well into his 40's and emulate other great keepers such as Peter Shilton, George Farm, Ronnie Simpson and our own Allan Ball. He said "Richard Gough always maintained you should carry on playing as long as it was physically possible. And that's my philosophy. Bear in mind that Ronnie Simpson got his first cap at 38 years old."
And how did the nickname `The Goalie' come about? "It was when I was at Hibs. A Clyde player called Paul Kane started it off and the boys at Easter Road just copied him. And it's stuck to this day" he remarked. Asked the million dollar question, `would he sign on again for Queens next season' he replied "I'd love to stay on at Palmerston but that's up to the club, not me. As I said before I really enjoy it here and first division football suits me fine. I actually feel fresher on a Saturday being `part time' and I'm hoping to play cricket for one of the Dumfries teams during the close season to keep me fit."
And a final word from John Connolly. "Andy is just treated the same as the rest of the lads. He's no `prima donna' and the players like him and respect him."