By Jacob Greenwood
The modern set up of non-league football has meant longevity is a often a rarity. Despite that, in recent times a select bunch have racked up 100 games for The Cards. In this new feature, Cardinal Centurions, we will speak to some of those players to find out about their time at Kingfield.
First up is a player who has had two spells at the club, and despite playing for Woking’s rivals Aldershot Town and Stevenage, is much loved amongst the Kingfield faithful. We spoke to John Goddard to find out about his time at The Cards.
Thanks for taking part and congratulations on being a Cardinal Centurion! You first signed for The Cards at the start of the 2013/14 season – how did you end up at the club?
I was playing for Hayes & Yeading the previous season who were playing at Kingfield as they had no home stadium. I believe Steve Thompson had seen me a few times that season and I got invited into pre season and just went from there really. I remember coming on in a pre-season game at Staines and scoring twice and just got my head down, worked hard and earned myself a contract.
You made your full debut in a 3-0 loss away to Macclesfield – do you have any memories from that game?
Yes I remember coming on at Hyde away in the midweek and then Garry Hill pulling me before Macclesfield and telling me I would be starting. I remember him telling me I was starting because I deserved to be and to believe in myself / enjoy it which was good because I would have probably have had some nerves! Of the game I don’t remember too much but I do remember flashing one across goal and feeling like I played quite well but obviously couldn’t have been that good if we lost 3-0!
In the 14/15 season Woking finished just three points outside play-offs – was that the best Woking team you played in and who were the standout players in your opinion?
I think all the Woking sides I have played in have had very talented individuals. It would be hard to pick the best side, but we were bitterly dissapointed to miss out on the playoffs that year as with the team we had I feel like we should have got in there. Our midfield was Betsy, Murtagh, Payney and myself which was a joy to play in with lots of rotation and some teams couldn’t deal with that.
In the 15/16 season you scored 20 in 49 games – how did you go about adding goals to your game?
I don’t think I changed much, I feel like it was mainly a case of playing 90 mins week in week out and finding a vein of form which just gave me a lot of confidence. I was given a lot of license that season by the management to go and express myself and play in a free role and it helps when you score goals. I made a conscious effort to get in the box more, especially when the ball was on our right hand side when we had Bruno Andrade and Jake Caprice who were excellent crossers of the ball.
After that season you departed for Swindon Town – how do you look back on that transfer and how did you find adjusting to League football?
Going to Swindon was brilliant for me and it is a massive club with a big fan base. I have a lot of great memories from there and we beat teams like Bradford, Bolton, Charlton etc. Obviously I would have loved to have kicked on from there but football doesn’t always work like that. I left on deadline day in January to join Stevenage which in retrospect was a rushed move and shouldn’t have happened but football is a tough industry and not everything works out!
What brought you back to the club for the 20/21 season?
I have been close to re-joining on a few occassions, but initially it wasn’t quite right as I didn’t want to go from the Football League to the National League South, and then I had offers from full-time clubs which were hard to turn down. I think anyone who knows me well understands my affiliation with the club and what Woking means to me, so when Dowse offered me the chance to come back this season it was an easy decision and one I didn’t want to miss out on. Nobody would be happier and more proud of being able to get this club in the football league than myself and I want to try and do that.
The best player you’ve played with during your time at the club?
So many to choose from! I had a great relationship with Bruno Andrade on the pitch, obviously Kevin Betsy was brilliant and so was Jack Marriott. I would have to say Dan Holman though, who during his loan spell was on fire and me and him linked up for a period of 3/4 months and it just clicked. I honestly think if he stayed that Jan and didn’t go to Cheltenham we would have done something.
The best goal you’ve scored?
Between Macclesfield at home or Oxford City in the trophy. To tough to call!
Your favourite Woking game that you played in?
Aldershot home, 2-1 win after we beat then 1-0 on boxing day a few days before. Say no more!
Thanks for your time John and fingers crossed we can achieve your goal of getting into the Football League!
Images by David Holmes. A full set can be found at wokingfc.co.uk