John Goodall, the son of a corporal in the Scottish Fusiliers, was born in London on 19th June, 1863. Two years later his father was posted to Edinburgh, and the family later moved to Kilmarnock.
After leaving school Goodall worked as an iron turner. A talented footballer he joined Kilmarnock Athletic and made his debut for the club at the age of seventeen.
Goodall was persuaded to move south and in 1884 joined the Bolton side Great Lever. His first game was against Derby County and Goodall scored four goals in the 6-0 victory.
Goodall joined Preston North End. in 1885. He developed a very good partnership with Jimmy Ross. In one game against Dundee Strathmore, he scored nine goals in a 16-2 win. He also scored a hat-trick in Preston's 5-0 semi-final win against Crewe Alexandra. Goodall also played in the 2-1 defeat against West Bromwich Albion in the 1888 FA Cup Final.
In March, 1888, William McGregor, a director of Aston Villa, circulated a letter suggesting that "ten or twelve of the most prominent clubs in England combine to arrange home and away fixtures each season."
In April, 1888 the Football League was formed. It consisted of six clubs from Lancashire (Accrington, Blackburn Rovers, Burnley, Everton and Preston North End) and six from the Midlands (Aston Villa, Derby County, Notts County, Stoke, West Bromwich Albion and Wolverhampton Wanderers).
The first season of the Football League began in September, 1888. Preston North End won the first championship without losing a single match. Goodall, who was captain of the team, scored 20 goals in 21 games that season.
In 1889 Goodall was transferred to Derby County. The full cost of the deal was not disclosed but part of the inducement package included the tenancy of the public house, The Plough on London Road in Derby.
Goodhall is also credited with discovering the great Steve Bloomer, who formed an excellent partnership with his mentor. Bloomer later said that "Goodall took the greatest interest in me when I was a kid. He coached me, secured me for Derby County, played with me and never failed to give me valuable hints and advice." Bloomer added: “Johnny Goodall was a wonderful footballer, brilliant captain and Nature’s gentleman, but little did I think when all the fuss was made over his arrival from Preston what an influence for good was being brought into my life. I always maintain that no player has ever known as much about football and its methods than this old friend of mine.”
During his career Goodall developed a reputation for playing the game in an excellent spirit. Peter Seddon has pointed out: "The Derby County players were the new breed of hard-bitten thoroughbred professionals, mostly working class men who played for money without a hint of shame. Football to them was a job. In contrast, the Gentlemen of England were the old breed of unpaid amateurs – all highly-talented players in their own right, but mostly university-educated men of privileged background and professional standing who played for the love of the game rather than “filthy lucre”... The man in whose honour the yawning gap was bridged was Derby County’s own “gentleman professional” John Goodall, whose fine character and reputation for fair play was held in such universal esteem that he earned the sobriquets “Honest John” and “Johnny Allgood”."
In 1896 officials of the club arranged a benefit game for John Goodall. The match between Derby and a team of the best amateur players in the country, raised £277, an amount equivalent to almost two years’ wages for an average professional footballer at the end of the 19th century.
Derby County had a good FA Cup run in the 1897-98 season. They beat Aston Villa (1-0), Wolverhampton Wanderers (1-0), Liverpool (5-1) and Everton (3-1) on the way to the final against Nottingham Forest. Steve Bloomer scored for Derby but they lost the game 3-1. Derby also reached the FA Cup Final in 1899 but this time they lost 4-1 to Sheffield United.
Goodall left Derby County in 1899. He had scored 76 goals in 211 games for the club. He also played for New Brighton Tower, Glossop, Watford, Racing Club Roubaix and Mardy before he retired.
Goodall also played first-class cricket for Derbyshire, represented England at bowls and was an excellent billiards player. Goodall also wrote a book on the skills needed to play football.
John Goodall died aged 78 on 20th May, 1942.