Hackney born inside left Len Goulden began his football career with Dagenham Town in 1930, joining West Ham United as an amateur in 1931 while also playing for Chelmsford in 1931 and Leyton in 1932, before signing professional for The Hammers in 1933. He made his Football League debut in a Second Division match at Charlton Athletic in April 1933 and quickly established himself as a West Ham regular missing only 6 matches in the next four seasons.
In both 1935-36 and 1936-37, when he was an ever present for The Hammers, he bagged 15 goals each season and his performances bought him his first England cap in May 1937 on a tour to Scandinavia, Goulden scoring in a 6-0 win over Norway. He won 14 caps in total over the next two years, scoring 4 times for England before the outbreak of the Second World War forced the suspension of peacetime football in September 1939, by when he had scored 55 goals in 256 appearances for West Ham. He also appeared twice for The Football League.
He guested for Chelsea during the War and following the War he signed for The Pensioners for £4,500 in December 1945 along with fellow new signings Tommy Lawton and Tommy Walker and the trio bagged 47 goals between them in Chelsea’s 1946-47 campaign. He also played in both FA Cup semi final matches against eventual winners Arsenal in 1950, Chelsea losing to an extra time winner in the replay at White Hart Lane, He scored 19 times in 111 matches for Chelsea before retiring in the summer of 1950.
In November 1952 he became manager of Watford, leaving in October 1955. However, his successor and former player Johnny Paton’s spell yielded just 2 wins from 15 games, including defeat at the hands of non-league clubs Aldershot and Bedford Town, and from February Goulden took over for the remainder of the season, but was only able to salvage a 21st-placed finish, departing for a second time in July 1956.
After three years coaching overseas he later returned to Watford in 1959 for a further three year spell as part of new manager Ron Burgess’s coaching staff. Burgess and Goulden’s impact was immediate; Watford won promotion from the Fourth Division in 1960, and very nearly a second consecutive promotion in 1961. Goulden departed the following season, again coaching overseas, before returning to management in England with Banbury United in 1965. Goulden, assisted by his former player Maurice Cook, helped Banbury reach the Southern League for the first time in their history. After leaving in 1967, Goulden’s final role in football came at Oxford United, where he managed the reserve team from 1969.
His son Roy played once for Arsenal in 1959 and also 10 matches for Southend United in 1961-62.