St.Helens R.F.C is saddened to hear of the loss of former player Jimmy Goodier at the age of 95.
Born St Helens 27th October 1924
Died St Helens 15th April 2020
When the Club launched their Heritage Numbers in January 2019, one of the first former players to be honoured was #607 Jimmy Goodier. A specially named and numbered jersey was presented to him by young star Jack Welsby in recognition of him being the club’s oldest surviving debutant.
Although he didn’t play too many first team games as such, he was one who helped the club to survive during the dark days of the second world war.
Born in Upland Road, Jimmy went to Thatto Heath Council School and then on to the newly-built secondary school at Grange Park, when it opened just prior to World War Two. He was interested in all sports as a youngster, but it was football that he excelled in initially. Jimmy played for the local Toll Bar Congs and captained the Grange Park School team as a centre half and at 14 was a member of the St Helens Schoolboys squad that won the English Schools Shield.
So what about rugby league? Jimmy would always talk about his sporting days with relish: “Living in St. Helens it was the done thing to play rugby league, of course and I played in the Saints junior league team during the war as well as several First Team games. At 5 feet 6 inches I wasn’t that big and I became a hookerand occasionally played scrum-half.”
Jimmy took up an apprenticeship with Critchleys in St. Helens as a plumber and later took up a job with Houghtons in Aintree. “I was never called up during the war but didn’t necessarily have an easy life,” he recalled.” I used to have to stay in Liverpool during the bombing raids and was on call to help to repair the damage to utilities.“
Jimmy was signed on when his team, mostly comprised of Toll Bar Congs members, entered a seven-a-side competition at Knowsley Road and they won it somewhat against the odds! The Saints’ Chairman was Rex Winter, also the boss of Critchley’s, who knew of Jimmy’s prowess on the football field but not necessarily with the oval ball.
Jimmy made his first team debut against Halifax at Thrum Hall on 15th April 1944 at scrum-half in what proved to be a heavy defeat for the young Saints’ team in the War Emergency League. “I played many matches for the junior team the Saints had formed to keep them going as the war went on” he remembered. “Players like Aub Gregory [he could run!], Ernie Mills, Harold Clough and Joe Ball. As for me, well I could certainly get the ball out of the scrum! On the open side of the pack I often had the legendary ‘Porky’ Davies next to me. One time he kept saying: ‘lift your feet up, Jimmy!’ I said I couldn’t because their prop was standing on them. The solution was quite simple. Porky would sort him out for me the only way he knew how!”
Jimmy’s last game was at hooker in the mud at Wheldon Road, Castleford, in a first round Challenge Cup tie on 9th February 1946. The Saints were narrowly beaten 4-10 in what was a difficult assignment, but the front row of Davies, Goodier and future international Norman Thompson held their own!
Jimmy maintained an interest in sport all his life and was a regular visitor to Knowsley Road and enjoyed the Players’ Association’s Dinners over many years, where he would exchange yarns with several former team-mates and opponents. He was also an accomplished crown green bowler.
Well-known to many in his native Thatto Heath, he was a thoughtful, amiable and extremely practical man, not averse to undertaking complex building projects, using his skills as a plumber and heating engineer to renovate houses and build his own bungalow in Heath Street.
Jimmy was also steward at Sidac Social Club for a spell and was pre-deceased by his wife, Florence, [Flo] in 2005.
Everyone at the Club extend their condolences to Jimmy’s family at this sad time.