PO Box 306, Glasgow, G21 2AE, Scotland
so farewell then...
Johnny Gould was signed by Wim Jansen in August 1997. Plucked from the white hot atmosphere of Bradford City (reserves) his opportunities there had been so limited that he spent some time on loan to Gillingham. Boasting a pedigree that included spells with Halifax Town, West Bromwich Albion and Coventry City, it's probably fair to say that he must have been as surprised as any of us that he found himself strolling through the front door of Paradise at the age of 28.
To be fair to him, he was probably under the impression that he was going to be stand-by for Stewart Kerr, himself a replacement for Gordon Marshall who had committed one clanger too many, even for Tommy Burns' liking. But Kerr's star began to wane after the Falkirk semi-final, and the signing of Bradford's reserve 'keeper seemed to be the last straw for the youngster's confidence.
Rather than sitting in the comfy seats, Gould was only at Parkhead a week before making his debut in the League Cup against Berwick Rangers in a game which Celtic won 7:0. This was followed by his European debut in a 2:1 defeat away at Innsbruck and his league debut the following weekend at McDiarmid Park in the match which saw Jansen's team shake of some dismal early league form and start to look as if they meant business.
His first appearance at Celtic Park was in the return leg against the Austrians. Although Celtic made it through the tie on aggregate - thanks largely to an amazing performance by Larsson - we conceded three goals in a horror show of harum scarum defending.
Nonetheless, once things settled down Gould played his part that season in a defence which conceded a miserly 24 goals. He looked reasonably competent behind the regular centre back pairing of Rieper and Stubbs, and did not seem to be prone either to the unpredictable recklessness of Kerr or the occasional aberrations of his immediate predecessor.
Thereafter he kept his place in the first team through the brief reign of Doctor Jo, the accession of Barnes and, briefly, under Martin O'Neill. For some reason, until the arrival of OFM none of the aforementioned seemed to place any particular emphasis on Gould's position. Apart from the semi-neurasthenic Kerr the only other serious challenge for the gloves in the first four years of his tenure came from Dmitri Kharine. Did I say serious challenge there? I beg your pardon.
With the arrival of Rab Douglas, someone who resembled a serious 'keeper, the party was over for JG.
Apart from the odd moment of low farce, domestic competition was never really too much for Gould too handle. He chose these important matches to reveal all the neuroses and insecurities which set goalies apart from mere mortals, and had us all in stitches with his Chaplinesque routines against the likes of Helsinki and Zurich.
His swansong this season was another of those games he'd prefer to forget. Against Dunfermline at East End Park one of his few interventions in the game was a pitiful fresh air swipe at a hopeful lob into the penalty box which resulted in a goal for the home side.
He has been a lucky Bhoy to have been given the chance to win some honours with a big club the stage in his career when Celtic plucked him from obscurity, but he always gave the impression that he was well aware of this and seemed to enjoy every minute of it. Off the pitch he was affable and always a good ambassador for the club.
We wish him well at Preston North End where he has gone to join the manager who gave him his Scotland cap.