Centre half Archie Goodall, along with his brother John, was born to a Scottish-born soldier who by the nature of his job was liable to travel around. John was born in London in 1863, and Archie in Belfast the following year, but both spent the majority of their childhoods in Kilmarnock. John developed into a mild-mannered inside-forward, whose career took him from Kilmarnock Athletic to Preston North End (where he finished topscorer in the first season of the Football League) and on to Derby County (where he would play alongside his younger brother). He also won 14 caps for England as, although to all intents in purposes he could be considered Scottish, the rules of international football of the time stipulated him as English. He was also awarded the somewhat parochial, but by no-means inaccurate, title of “best player in the world”.
Meanwhile Archie had developed into a fairly rambunctious footballer in his own right. His career took off prior to the founding of the Football League when he played mainly in the Merseyside area, initially for Liverpool Stanley and St Jude’s, but also before the League was founded for Preston North End, Derby County and Bolton Wanderers. He joined Preston North End in July 1888 and played two games in the forward line alongside his brother for Preston in the League’s first season, scoring on his Football League debut at Wolverhampton Wanderers in September 1888, before joining Aston Villa for £100 in October 1888.
An effective but brief spell as inside-right at Villa, scoring 7 goals in 14 appearances, was followed by over a decade at Derby County whom he joined in September 1889. At Derby he was first employed regularly at centre-half, his stamina and sheer physical presence making him one of the most effective backs in the English game. Described in the local dialect as a “reet ‘un”, he was not averse to “leaning on” his opponents, employing with great effect the good old shoulder charge.
A major influence on Derby’s constant challenge for the top honours, Goodall helped the club to three FA Cup Finals (though both he and brother John missed the 1899 Final through injury), and to runners-up spot in the League in 1896. Prior to the 1898 FA Cup Final against Nottingham Forest he caused uproar as he tried to off-load excess tickets. Although Derby, whose team also included brother John, were heavy favourites, Forest ran out easy 3-1 victors. Four years later when Archie next made an FA Cup Final appearance, Derby were humiliated 6-0 by a Bury team who did not concede a goal throughout the tournament. John and Archie played regularly together at Derby and on several occasions scored goals. The most memorable were an 8-1 defeat of Barnsley in 1897 and in the FA Cup semi-final against Everton on 30th March 1897 – a 2-3 defeat. Possibly Archie’s most important goal was in the 1-0 win over West Bromwich Albion in the Third Round of the FA Cup in 1896.
Archie Goodall’s Irish International career was only able to commence when the English clubs indicated their willingness to release Irish-born players. He was one of the four who were the first “Anglos” to represent Ireland, as Wales were defeated 1-0 in Belfast in March 1899. For the record they were:- Goodall (Derby County), John Taggart (Walsall) Thomas Morrison (Burnley), J. D. Hanna (Royal Artillery Portsmouth). Three weeks later Goodall became the oldest player to score in international football during the Nineteenth Century, the consolation goal in a 9-1 defeat by Scotland in Glasgow on Mar 25th 1899 at the age of 34 years and 279 days.
Goodall remained a regular at centre-half for Ireland until he was almost forty, although his tenth and final cap was won at centre-forward. The opening goal scored by Goodall in a 2-0 win over Wales in March 1903 leaves him as the oldest goalscorer in Ireland’s history at the ripe old age of 38 years and 283 days.
Goodall left Derby County in 1903, where he had been club captain, after 425 games and 52 goals. He joined Plymouth Argyle of the Southern League, he was first choice in the newly professional side but left suddenly in November 1903 after 12 appearances with stories suggesting that he appealed to the FA over the validity of his transfer. In January 1904 he became player-manager of Glossop scoring 14 goals in 30 appearances for The Hillmen. In October 1905 he signed for First Division Wolverhampton Wanderers where he made his final League appearance that December. At the age of 41 years 153 days he is the oldest player ever to feature for Wolves.