Looking back at: Harry Godbold

Harry Godbold

Date of birth: 31.1.39

Born: Springwell, County Durham

Height: 5ft 9in

Position: Left winger

 City appearances: League: 22(1), 3 goals, League Cup: 1, Total: 23(1), 3 goals

 Harold Godbold, usually known as Harry, was born in a village situated between Gateshead and Sunderland and began his football career playing for the nearby Usworth Collliery team. In the summer of 1956, he joined Sunderland at the age of 17, playing in their youth team which won the Northern Intermediate League title.

Godbold made his First Division debut for Sunderland as a teenager in the 1957/58 season, creating a good initial impression but playing just five times and scoring one goal as the Rokerites were relegated to the Second Division. He played six times during the following season and only once the season after that and had not appeared in the first team during the 1960/61 season by the time he joined Hartlepools United on a free transfer in January 1961. Over the next two and a half seasons he made a total of 65 league appearances for the struggling Fourth Division outfit scoring 8 goals.

Released by Hartlepools in the summer of 1963 he then left the north-east for Lincolnshire signing for Boston United in the Midland League. A year later financial problems caused the Pilgrims to suspend playing and Godbold moved across to the newly formed Boston FC, helping them to win the Lincolnshire League in their first season. Moving up to the Central Alliance Boston were well on their way to winning a second league title when in March 1966 Lincoln City’s player-coach Roy Chapman moved to fill a problem position on the Imps’ left wing by giving the north easterner another crack at league football. Chapman had earlier in the season signed experienced centre half Les Moore from Boston and it may be that he had become aware of Godbold then and remembered him when casting around for a replacement on the left side for John Hawksby recently sold to York City.

There cannot be many Imps players to have made their debuts in a 7-0 defeat but that’s what happened with Harry Godbold as City went down by that scoreline in a Friday night game at Crewe on 18th March 1966. Maurice Burton in his Lincolnshire Echo match report did however praise him for “bringing some pace and craft to the left wing position.” The extra Sunday training session the team were required to take part in did however seem to have some effect as the next game saw a 4-1 win over Barnsley at Sincil Bank followed by two more wins and a draw as City took advantage of four successive home games to rise off the foot of the league table. Godbold won further praise from the writer of the Supporters Club notes in the match programme for the third of these, with the comment that his: “…fast direct raiding type of wing play is something we have been lacking for a long time.” He opened his scoring account in the following match at Southport but it was only a consolation in a 5-1 defeat. He scored again in a 4-0 home win over Barrow but two points from the next three games, all away, were not enough to keep City out of the re-election zone, Godbold making a total of 12 appearances and scoring two goals.

An end-of-season run of two defeats in 12 games had given some hope for the following season but Godbold was missing for the start of it through injury. He returned to the side after four games out and inspired the first league win of the season with a 3-1 defeat of Brentford at Sincil Bank. Despite this he was then on the bench for a defeat at Rochdale before playing in the side which beat Second Division Huddersfield in the League Cup.

Godbold’s goal then helped secure a 2-2 draw at Brentford, but three of the next four games produced defeats. He was then out of the side for the next three games which were all lost, including an exit from the League Cup in a 5-0 defeat at Leicester City following which player-coach Roy Chapman was relieved of his responsibilities for the team.

Godbold returned to the side for three more games, the last of these being the first under new manager Ron Gray who inherited a team which had gathered just three points from nine games. Gray then employed a new 4-3-3 formation which left no place for the left winger, but after a couple of games it was midfielder Ken Fencott’s turn to be left out as Godbold returned for a solitary game. However, it soon became clear there was no place for him in the preferred formation of the new manager. The winger came off the bench for a home win over Chesterfield on New Year’s Eve before making his last appearance for the club in the next game which saw a 2-0 defeat at Rochdale. He was then confined to the reserves for the rest of the season as City finished in last place, his total number of appearances for the season being 12, with one goal scored.

It had long been evident that Harry Godbold was not part of Ron Gray’s plans and he was released in the summer of 1967, joining Spalding United in the Midland League. He moved on in December to return to Boston FC by now playing in the Eastern Counties League then returned to his native area the following year to join one-time Football League club Gateshead.

 His son David became a noted table tennis player and coach in the North East

Harry Godbold’s Football League record totalled 100 appearances with 12 goals scored

1 Comment

  1. He was here long enough to get his own song based on the Hallelujah Chorus: ‘Harry Godbold, Harry Godbold etc etc

    Strange how cultured the terraces can be.

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