Andy Goram: An appreciation by Robert McElroy

Born: April 13, 1964;

Died: July 2, 2022.

ANDY Goram, who has died at the age of just 58, was indisputably one of the all-time great goalkeepers in British football.

Seven years at Ibrox saw Goram make 282 appearances for Rangers, producing five League Championship, three Scottish Cup and two League Cup winners’ medals.

Some of his most famous performances and most memorable saves were against Rangers' Old Firm rivals, Celtic. One thinks of a stunning close-range save from Pierre van Hooijdonk at Ibrox in 1995 and a crucial penalty save from the same player one year later at Celtic Park. No wonder Celtic manager Tommy Burns lamented that the words “Andy Goram broke his heart” would be inscribed on his tombstone.

At his peak Goram was arguably the finest goalkeeper in Europe, even if Peter Schmeichel of Manchester United had his supporters in English media circles. An instinctive ‘keeper with superb positional sense, he was also comfortable with the ball at his feet, an invaluable asset given the recently-introduced law prohibiting the handling of the ball from a deliberate pass by a team-mate.

Andrew Lewis Goram was born in Bury, Lancashire in April 1964, to parents Lewis and May. Educated at Tottington High School, he was following in the footsteps of his father when, as a teenager, he signed for West Bromwich Albion, but after being released he signed for Oldham Athletic in 1981. His father had also been a goalie, playing for Leith Athletic, Hibernian, Third Lanark and Bury.

The young Andy would spend seven successful years at Boundary Park, making 195 League appearances and being named in the PFA Team of the Year in the then Second Division in season 1986-87.

International recognition followed with Goram called up to the England Under-21 squad by Howard Wilkinson in 1983.But as he did not actually feature in the game he remained eligible for Scotland on the basis of his Edinburgh-born father, and accordingly accepted an invitation from interim manager, Alex Ferguson, to join the Scotland Full International squad in October 1985. He was introduced as a second-half substitute in a goalless draw against East Germany at Hampden.

A stellar international career would see ‘The Goalie’ make 43 appearances for Scotland, including all three games in the European Championship finals of 1992 and 1996. Indeed, he was a dual Internationalist for Scotland, playing against both Ireland and Australia at Cricket, following in the footsteps of former Rangers Manager Scot Symon, who had done likewise in an earlier era.

A £325,000 transfer to Hibernian in 1987 saw Goram moving to one of his father’s former clubs, making his debut in a 4-0 win over Dunfermline Athletic on October 10. In 1988 he achieved the unusual feat for a goalkeeper of actually scoring in a Premier Division fixture against Morton, with a long kick at Easter Road.

A £1million transfer to Rangers followed in the summer of 1991 - although it is fair comment that his arrival at Ibrox was not exactly universally welcomed at first by the Light Blue legions as he was replacing the popular Chris Woods.

Goram had been signed by manager Walter Smith principally because of his Scottish heritage due to UEFA regulations at the time limiting clubs to field a maximum of three non-nationals in European competitions.

A home debut on the opening day of the season against St. Johnstone resulted in a comprehensive 6-0 victory. But he was deemed responsible for vital early goals conceded in a league defeat against Hearts at Tynecastle, followed by an extra-time counter in a European Cup-tie against Sparta Prague that enabled the Czechs to progress to the next round on away goals, and a League Cup Semi-Final against his former club, Hibernian, lost 0-1 at Hampden.

‘The Goalie’ soon proved the critics wrong, however. Indeed, he would be an ever-present during that first campaign at Ibrox as both the League Championship and Scottish Cup were annexed, the latter for the first time in 11 years.

Season 1992-93 would be arguably the finest in the club’s long and distinguished history as a fifth domestic Treble was secured and a ten-game unbeaten run in the inaugural UEFA Champions’ League saw Rangers come agonisingly close to the Final of Europe’s premier competition. Subsequent court proceedings revealed the corruption that lay at the heart of French Champions and Group stage opponents Olympique Marseille and their owner, Bernard Tapie.

Andy Goram was outstanding during that campaign despite missing many games due to a knee injury, his performance in the second round tie against English Champions Leeds United at Elland Road being outstanding. He featured in all ten European fixtures, conceding just seven goals, and was voted Player of the Year by both the Scottish Football Writers' and the Scottish Professional Footballers' Associations.

That knee injury necessitated the need for surgery in the summer of 1993, restricting Goram’s appearances in 1993-94 – but he was back in the fold for the following campaign, and would be a key member of the Rangers’ side over the next three seasons as Nine-In-A-Row was secured.

Goram left the club in the summer of 1998 alongside other ‘Nine-In-A-Row’ legendary figures like Richard Gough, Ally McCoist, Ian Durrant and Stuart McCall,Walter Smith’s successor as manager, Dick Advocaat, preferring to build his own squad.

In 1999 Goram was voted the greatest Rangers goalkeeper of all time by the club’s fans.

Brief spells at both Notts County and Sheffield United followed his departure from Ibrox before Andy returned to Scottish football with Motherwell in January 1999. He made 57 League appearances for them in two years, helping them to fourth position in the Premier Division in 2000.

Another telephone call from Sir Alex Ferguson led to a three-month loan spell at Old Trafford in 2001, helping Manchester United to that season’s League title. This was followed by further brief spells at Hamilton Accies, Coventry City, former club Oldham Athletic, and Queen of the South. He captained the Dumfries club to success in the 2002-03 Scottish Challenge Cup, making himthe first – and, to date, only – player to win all four of Scotland’s major trophies. A brief spell followed with Elgin City before, in 2004, he retired from the playing side of the game.

In 2010 Goram was inducted into the Scottish Football Hall of Fame.

He became a respected goalkeeping coach, working at Motherwell, Airdrieonians, Clyde, Hamilton Accies, Ayr United, BSC Glasgow, Dunfermline Athletic and Cambuslang Rangers.

Andy Goram passed away on July 2 in St. Andrew’s Hospice, Airdrie following a brave but all-too-brief fight with oesophageal cancer. He was married three times – to Jacqui Taylor, Tracey Fitzpatrick, and Miriam Wylie, and he is survived by two sons: Danny, from his first marriage, and Lewis, from his second. Former team-mates Alistair McCoist and John Brown were present, along with his former wife, Miriam and son Danny.