Mark Goldberg: The Crystal Palace fan who lost £40m finds new riches in his son's big day

He went bust at Palace but today he will share in an FA Cup dream
  • @NickSzczepanik

Few things in football are more admirable than a team that refuses to be beaten. The Goldbergs, Mark and Bradley, are a perfect example. Mark, the former owner of Crystal Palace, has bounced back from losing a £40 million fortune when the club went bust nine months after he bought it in 1998, and his son Bradley, the Hastings United forward, is determined to show the same resilience after being released by Charlton Athletic in summer.

Today Mark, who is now manager of Bromley Town as well as running an online recruitment business, will take the day off from his duties in the dugout to watch 19-year-old Bradley play for Hastings in their FA Cup third-round tie away to Middlesbrough.

It will be a long trip for Goldberg and around 1,000 Hastings fans, but he harbours no regrets that the cup draw did not pair his son's team with Palace.

"No, I think it's fair to say it's a great draw for them," he said. "Although Palace would have been a good story, it's all about Bradley, it's not about me. I'm really pleased he's getting the attention."

Pleased, and proud? "Yes, ever since Charlton told us he wasn't 'man enough'. He went there as a forward but they played him in midfield and never gave him an opportunity. He came and played men's football for Hastings and scored four in the first six games. It's all about opinions and it's given him another opportunity. It's been wonderful for him."

Bradley's approach is everything his father would have wished. "These things happen all the time in football and it just motivates me to prove people wrong," he said. "It was the first time it had happened to me. I used to play at Bromley as a child, moved to Charlton, then got released after my two-year scholarship. I came here and I've been enjoying it."

Bradley supports Arsenal rather than Palace – "his uncle converted him", says Mark – and that coloured his first reaction to being drawn against Boro, 133 places above Hastings in the football pyramid.

"It's a massive opportunity for us against a big club in a big stadium," he said. "I was saying to my friends: 'I think Thierry Henry's played on that pitch!' I'm excited. I want to see what it's like against Championship defenders."

Rather than go to college or look for a job outside football, Bradley is hoping to use Hastings as a springboard to a return to the professional game. "I still train every day, I'm basically taking a year out to try and get back – living like a pro, going to the gym and training every day."

But how did that appetite for football survive the impact of the Palace episode on his father and his family? "Football has always been in our lives and it always will be," he said. "I loved it, loved watching games at Palace. I was quite young so I didn't get the whole experience of what it was like for him. He's a man who always bounces back, he's always positive and he always keeps going. And he kept that away from me anyway, so it didn't have an effect.

"He made his mistakes but he did it because he loved Palace. It definitely hasn't affected my football. There was extra pressure playing for Bromley [during a six-match loan spell] because I was the manager's son and people questioned if that was why I was in the team – that was quite tough. But in football you have your highs and lows and this game [against Middlesbrough] is definitely a big high."

Mark laughs. "And now all the Bromley fans are saying, 'Why the hell isn't he still at Bromley?' But that's great, that's the way it should be. They've recognised that he's a player in his own right, he's not a player just because he's Mark Goldberg's son.

"There's no doubt financially it affected the family for a while, but to a certain extent football has helped us get through it all, Our love for the game has been our escape from what's going on outside. It's caused us all sorts of problems, but it's given us more positives. I've had much more fulfilment through football than I've had disappointment – even though I lost £40m through it!

"It's fair to say that whatever experience I've been through – from the day that I lost my position and a lot of what I built up over the year at Crystal Palace – the next I was watching Bradley play under-9s and score a goal and all the other stuff went away.

"Saturday will be one of the biggest highlights in football that I've ever been involved in."