OUR CLUB HAS HAD HEROES IN EVERY ERA. IF WHAT MAKES A HERO IS BEING PART OF A SUCCESSFUL TEAM, THEN JONATHAN GOULD HAS AS GOOD A CLAIM AS ANY. HERE Danny Law LOOKS AT THIS ENIGMATIC KEEPER, WHO PLAYED SUCH A BIG ROLE IN SOME KEY CELTIC TRIUMPHS.
Everyone remembers Artur Boruc, but believe it or not between Packy Bonner and the Holy Goalie Celtic had other people between the sticks. One of them was Jonathan Gould. Gould had a 20 year professional career, stretching from 1989 and played for a number of teams in England before moving to Celtic in 1997.
Gould played for a number of teams throughout his career beginning at Clevedon Town through Halifax Town, Bristol City, West Bromwich Albion, Coventry, Bradford, and eventually to Celtic before moving on to Preston North End. Looking at his appearances it seems that he made around 25 or so games a season on average, but, look a little closer and you will see that the bulk of his professional appearances were made at Celtic. He made 157 appearances for the club over his five seasons there and would never come close to the success he achieved at Celtic at any other club.
Gould won three League Cups, three Leagues, and a Scottish Cup at Celtic and played his part in both the 97/98 season and the last Treble winning season. Yet, his list of honours from other clubs is somewhat less engaging; he won the play-offs with Bradford, and the New Zealand league with Napier City Rovers.
Gould didn’t stay first choice Keeper for Celtic for long, he played second fiddle to Rab Douglas from the 2000/01 season. Yet, to his credit he stayed with the club until 2003 after which he left to join Craig Brown at Preston North End. He said of his move at the time:
“I wanted the opportunity to play first team football and I’ve been restricted in the last 18 months at Celtic. I know Craig Brown and that was a big factor for me. The manager believes in me as a goalkeeper and that gives you an extra two or three inches in your stride.”
Interestingly there seemed to be some crossed wires as to Gould’s actual and perceived role at Preston. Brown made clear on signing Gould that he would “supplement the goalkeeping provision we have here. But we don’t want him to hinder the progress of our younger goalkeepers.” However, he did make a number of appearances for the club, playing 58 times.
Gould was by no means a Celtic great, yet his time at the club marked a career high for him, something he readily acknowledges according to Mark Guidi in his book The Inner Sanctum The Secrets Behind Celtic’s 1997-8 Title Win.
The book tells of a story in which Gould claims that he “won’t get bigger than Celtic” and that it was the ”best move of his career”. As the story goes, his friend was disappointed with his lack of ambition but was subsequently stunned when Gould divulged that it was Glasgow and not Stalybridge, Manchester that he was moving to.
Gould is still involved in football, and has made a name for himself as a Youth Coach down under. He runs the Perth Glory Goalkeeping academy and has taken a real interest in developing young Goalkeeping talent in West Australia, stating:
“I’m really looking forward to setting up Goalkeeping Academies, we are a club who wants to know and work with every talented junior with the potential to play A League. We’re the only A League club in West Australia so it is of paramount importance that we are coaching as many talented juniors as possible to ensure our goalkeeping stocks remain strong for years to come.”
It wasn’t all rosy for Gould in Australia though. Initially he struggled with moving away from his family, who were, at that time, based in New Zealand, especially after the Earthquakes in Christchurch. In an interview in the Daily Record Gould claimed that:
“I’ve left my family behind to move to Perth and we’ve got earthquakes going on. It was a big decision but my family were really keen for me to stay at this level.
I went to Christchurch after the first earthquake and the second one really knocked those people – and we still get earthquakes on a regular basis in Hawke’s Bay.
Our house, we’ve been told, is sliding down a hill. We’ve got to have foundations put in and there was a 6.5 earthquake earlier today – it’s something different to live with.” When you are in your house and the building starts to shake you stand there and don’t know what to do. I’ve even stood on a road when it’s been waving and wobbling up and down. It’s a pretty remarkable experience.”
Even though Gould is now thousands of miles away from Glasgow, there are some things that just don’t go away. He now works with Ian Ferguson at Perth glory and Celtic still occupies a place in his mind. He said of his time at Celtic “It seems a long time ago now but you still dream about the club. It still gets you inside. There is no doubt those were the best years of my career.”
So although he is now on the other side of the world, it is nice to know that Gould still thinks about Celtic. Celtic provided a distinguishable highlight in a career that mostly remained in the shadows, and it is clear that Gould recognises that playing for Celtic was a huge part of his life. I’m sure we, the Celtic fans, can recognise that though he was no Holy Goalie, Gould played his part in Celtic’s history and was under no illusions as to how lucky he was to play for the Club.
First published in CQN Magazine, issue 8