Obituary: James (Jimmy) Goodfellow, footballer

Share this article

James (Jimmy) Goodfellow, football player and manager. Born: 30 July, 1938, in Edinburgh. Died: 1 April, 2011, aged 72.

Jimmy Goodfellow, who has died aged 72 after a long illness, was one of the most gifted Edinburgh footballers of his generation, and was a member, at Third Lanark, of one of the most celebrated forward lines in the history of the Scottish game.

He was a Leicester City player when the English Midlands club enjoyed some remarkable form in knockout competitions, and after retiring as a player he moved into management.

Born in Restalrig in the capital, he grew up in Leith, and attended Norton Park Secondary School in the shadow of Easter Road. Much of his football then was played in a playground at Begg's Buildings, a venue which had a formative influence on many players from in and around the Abbeyhill area during the decade after the war.

One friend from those days, William Hunter, would go on to play for Motherwell. "Jimmy was a smashing lad," Hunter recalls. "He was a quiet, unassuming guy - never one to put himself forward in the way that others would."

The kickabouts on the 60-yard concrete pitch at Begg's Buildings were the start of a football career which saw Goodfellow playing for juvenile clubs such as Edinburgh Norton before graduating to Tranent Juniors.

At the same time as his football career was taking off he was also qualifying then serving an apprenticeship as an electrician, and had to fit his training around his work and studies at nightschool.

"He was very calm, quiet and studious," another friend and fellow-electrician, Douglas Murray, remembers.

"He had to fit his training in after a full day at work, and he had to go to night school too. He was one of a super group of players who came out of the Abbeyhill area, and who played at Begg's Buildings, where the final whistle only blew when the sun went down."

Goodfellow initially remained part-time when he joined Third Lanark, but as his value to the club became apparent he gave up his trade, only resuming it some time after he had hung up his boots. Although Thirds would become defunct in 1967 as a result of chronic financial mismanagement, they were still a force in the land in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and Goodfellow, a strong-running winger, was an essential element in their late flowering. If the 1950s had been the decade first of Hibernian's Famous and then of Hearts' Terrible Trio, the turn of the decade was the time of Goodfellow, Hilley, Harley, Gray and McInnes.

A freescoring quintet, they hit their peak in season 1960-61, when Thirds finished third in the old First Division.With one game to go, the club were in sight of the 100-goal mark for the season, and they surpassed it in style with a 6-1 victory over Hibs.

When Goodfellow moved to Leicester he joined a club who were in the midst of the most successful period in their history.

They had qualified for European football as FA Cup runners-up to double winners Tottenham Hotspur in 1961, and they had also reached the final of the same competition two years later, when they lost to Manchester United.

A Scot, Matt Gillies, was their manager at the time, and Goodfellow was just one of a number of his compatriots who Gillies recruited.

Having just come up short in the FA Cup, they enjoyed better success in the League Cup. In 1964 they beat Stoke City 4-3 on aggregate, and although Goodfellow was not in the team he was able to celebrate with fellow Scots John Sjoberg, Max Dougan and Dave Gibson.

Gordon Banks, who would win the World Cup with England two years later, was in goal.

In 1965 Leicester reached the final again, this time coming up against Chelsea.

The first leg was played at the London club's Stamford Bridge ground, and although Leicester twice equalised, with Goodfellow scoring one of the goals, Chelsea eventually ran out 3-2 winners.

Back at Filbert Street for the second leg, Goodfellow and his team-mates were unable to get the goal which would have put them level on aggregate, and a 0-0 draw meant that Chelsea lifted the trophy.

He went on to be the club's leading goalscorer that season, and also went into the record books the following season as the club's first substitute following the decision to permit one per team per game.

He spent the latter part of his career at Mansfield Town, then went into management with Workington Town in Cumbria. He remained in England after retiring from football, and in his later years he reverted to his original trade and owned an electrician's shop.

He is survived by his wife, Ruth, and their daughters, Gail and Linsay.