OBITUARIES : Len Goulden

Len Goulden was a captivating footballer, a richly creative inside-forward whose flowing skills earned him a regular place in the England side for two years before the Second World War. But for the conflict, it is probable that the genial Londoner would have added considerably to his tally of 14 caps. Indeed, a telling measure of Goulden's stature is that his international honours were won when he was a player with West Ham Utd, then in the middle reaches of the Second Division. He specialised in switching the point of attack, suddenly and dramatically, with raking left-foot passes that could render helpless several opponents at a stroke.

Born in Hackney and raised in Plaistow, Goulden progressed rapidly as a teenager, winning selection for England schoolboys in 1926 and joining the Hammers as an amateur five years later. As was then the custom, he was farmed out to gain experience with local non-league clubs, in his case Chelmsford and Leyton, before turning professional at Upton Park in the spring of 1933. So eyecatching was Goulden's talent that he was pitchforked immediately into senior action, emerging as his team's star performer for the remainder of the decade.

Yet despite Goulden's frequently brilliant efforts, West Ham failed to gain promotion, and his only club honour was a Football League wartime cup medal, received for his part in victory over Blackburn Rovers at Wembley in 1940. There was stirring consolation in his country's colours, beginning with a scoring debut in the 6-0 thrashing of Norway in Oslo in 1937 and ending prematurely with the outbreak of war in 1939.

After the hostilities, during which he served in the police force, Goulden realised, then 33, that if he was to sample life in the First Division he would have to forsake the Hammers. Accordingly in 1945 he joined Chelsea in a £5,000 deal.

At Stamford Bridge, Goulden spent five largely fulfilling seasons, including a two-year stint fashioning bullets for the great centre-forward Tommy Lawton to fire and a later productive spell as a wing-half. Sadly, though, his trophy cabinet remained devoid of medals, the nearest he came to glory being an FA Cup semi-final defeat by Arsenal in 1950.

That year Goulden retired as a player, joining the Chelsea coaching staff before becoming boss of Watford in 1952. Alas, despite guiding the Hornets to fourth place in the Third Division (South) in 1954, he proved too easy going for management and was dismissed in 1956. There followed three years as a sub post master before a three-season return to Watford as part-time coach, two years passing on his knowledge in Libya and a spell in charge of non-league Banbury Town. A final coaching post with Oxford Utd in 1969 signalled his farewell to the game. Thereafter he worked on a United States Air Force base in Northamptonshire before retiring to Cornwall. Goulden, whose son Roy played briefly for Arsenal and Southend Utd, will be remembered as one of England's most cultured schemers and a humourous, immensely popular man.

Ivan Ponting

Leonard Arthur Goulden, footballer and football club manager: born London 16 July 1912; married (two sons); died London 14 February 1995.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Ashdown Group: HR Manager - West London - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager - West London - £...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment & HR Administrator

£17000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Guru Careers: HR Manager / HR Business Partner

£55 - 65k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: A HR Manager / HR Business Partner i...

Recruitment Genius: Senior HR Assistant

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Company's vision is to be t...

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

How to find gold

Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

Not born in the USA

Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
10 best balsamic vinegars

10 best balsamic vinegars

Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'