Joe Royle leads tributes to goalkeeper Andy Goram

ANDY Goram, possibly Oldham Athletic’s greatest-ever goalkeeper, has died at the age of 58
And Joe Royle, Latics’ manager for most of Andy’s time at Boundary Park, led the many tributes to the flamboyant Scot.

Royle said: “Andy was up there with Neville Southall as the best keeper that I had the pleasure of working with.

“The Rangers nickname for him, ‘The Goalie’ just about sums Andy up. Scotland, Rangers and Oldham’s best ever.”

It was announced on May 30 that Andy had been diagnosed with terminal oesophagael cancer and had been told he had six months to live, and he died on July 2.

Andy was a goalkeeper like his father, Edinburgh-born Lewis who professionally for Leith Athletic, Hibernian, Third Lanark and Bury in the 1940s and 50s.

Andy Goram

Latics’ manager Jimmy Frizzell took a punt on the teenage Andy after he was released by West Brom as, as 5ft 11in, he was regarded as too small to reach the top.

And it was Frizzell who handed 18-year-old Andy his debut in the second-tier home game against Charlton Athletic in May 1982.

Striker Rodger Wylde was one of Andy’s team-mates that day and the following season.

He said: “What I will always remember about Andy was he was always bright, cheerful, had a smile on his face, which I can see now, and joined in the fun. He was one of the good lads in the dressing room.

“Andy went on to have a great career, something that does not happen by accident. He had a great attitude and was dedicated in training

“It was a pleasure and honour to have played with him.”

Royle succeeded Frizzell that summer and 1982-83 was Andy’s breakthrough season as he established himself as Latics’ first-choice goalkeeper.

Andy Goram

Andy spent almost seven years with Latics before getting a big-money move to Hibernian – £325,000 was a sizeable sum in 1987.

But it was a £1million move to Rangers in 1991 which catapulted Andy into the big time.

Andy, voted Rangers’ greatest ever goalkeeper during his seven years at Ibrox, won five Scottish League titles, three Scottish Cups and two Scottish League Cups.

By this time, he was an established Scottish international, even though he was earlier in his career named in two England U21 squads. He never played so was still eligible to represent Scotland.

It was Sir Alex Ferguson who handed him his Scotland debut against East Germany in 1985 when he was still at Latics.

Andy was in their squad for the finals of the 1986 and 1990 World Cup and 1992 and 1996 finals of the Euros.

Though Andy won 43 caps, he frequently missed out to Jim Leighton in the big tournaments, although he was a regular at Euro 1992 and 1996 finals, in which he played in all three of Scotland’s matches in each tournament as they.

Andy was between the posts at Euro 1996 when England’s Paul Gascoigne scored one of the greatest-ever goals.

After leaving Rangers, Andy played for many clubs, most notably a loan spell at Manchester United in 2000-01 when he won a Premier League title.

There was also an emotional return to Latics in 2002 aged 38 to help during an injury crisis as he played four matches to take his total appearances for the club to 212.

Andy was also the only man to represent Scotland at football and cricket – he was a left-handed batsman and medium-pace bowler who represented his country four times between
1989-91.

He featured in two first-class matches against Ireland, two NatWest Trophy matches against Yorkshire and Sussex, and in Glasgow against Australia – the last appearance in defiance of Hibs, who fined him on his return.

And six years ago, he turned out again for his country for Scotland Over-50s.

Indeed, but for football, Andy could well have become a professional cricketer. And while at Latics, Andy played cricket during the summer for Saddleworth League clubs Delph, Moorside and East Lancashire Paper Mill.

Ray Anchor, a team-mate at Moorside, batted alongside Andy and remembers him as being an “excellent cricketer, a good all-rounder”.

He said: “Andy kept wicket for us to the annoyance of Joe Royle who told him he would lose a lot of money if he broke a finger.

“Andy was Andy, and he did what he wanted to do. He told us not to put his name on the team-sheet which went in the newspapers so not to attract attention to the fact he was playing.

“But Joe lived in Saddleworth, and he would sometimes come along to watch games with his wife.”

Ray remembered Andy also playing for Moorside shortly before he left to play for Scotland in the 1986 finals of the World Cup, again saying it was a huge risk if he were to get injured.

He also recalled Andy travelling back from Scotland to support Moorside in the final of the Tanner Cup shortly after he joined Rangers.

“Andy bought a crate of beer for us to have after the game and went home having not paid for it. Trevor Bland, our club president at the time, said it was typical AG,” he said.

“He was easy to get along with and have a laugh and joke. He liked a drink, flutter on the horses and night at a casino.”

Andy was also inducted into Scottish football’s hall of fame in 2010.

After retirement from playing, he went on to become a goalkeeping coach at numerous Scottish clubs.

With Andy’s great talent came off-field activities that kept the tabloids busy with stories of his womanising, hard drinking which saw him spending time in rehab, and gambling.

Even after his playing days, when he served more quietly as a coach, stories about his private life would occasionally surface.

And in 2009 he wrote a lively autobiography, ‘The Goalie: My Story’ which looked back of a remarkable life which was lived to the full.

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