Mark Oxley. Some of you will never have heard that name before this weekend, but the Hibs goalie certainly came to the fore by scoring against Livingston on Saturday. Be that as it may, but how many of you saw the first goal he lost at Ibrox last Wednesday? I’ll be willing to bet he was angrier about that one going under him, than he was happy to score one. And if he wasn’t, he should have been.

All of which brings me to the perception that I am something of a “goalie hater.” In fact, nothing could be further from the truth; although I will admit to a hatred of losing ‘soft’ goals. It’s just unfortunate that whenever a goalie makes a mistake, a soft goal usually results. I do believe I am well qualified to criticise however, having played with and worked with three of the best Scottish goalkeepers of our time; namely Andy Goram, Jim Leighton and Rab Douglas.

They were three very different types of goalkeeper and three very different types of character.

Scotland’s Number One

Goram was an enigma, with a spring and athleticism which belied his frame. He read one-on-one situations brilliantly and he was great with the ball at his feet. He used to drive Alex Miller (then Hibs manager) mad because he always wanted to play outfield in the five-a-sides. I recall a game at Tynecastle where I had made the squad, but not the bench (as usual some will say) and Goram was incredible. We lost 3-1, but in truth it would have been 10 but for Andy. Late in the game, he pulled off another fingertip save and at that point, the old “shed” terracing corner – which housed the most vociferous and partisan HEARTS fans – rose to a man to sing “Scotland’s, number one.” A truly remarkable moment in a derby match. It was no surprise, that he went on to play a huge part in Rangers success and indeed, Scotland’s.

One of a Kind

Jim was the polar opposite to Andy. A quiet, unassuming man who’s stooped over, bow-legged appearance gave no clue to the strength of character of the man inside. He looked downtrodden at times, but when he stepped on the pitch, his desire to win and ability to keep the ball out of the net were unquestionable. I swear he never dropped ANYTHING. (I know, but that’s what it felt like). We played the League Cup semi-final at Tynecastle and with about 15 minutes to go, a cross came into the box which I managed to head clear. In truth, it wasn’t a great header and the ball landed straight at the feet of Freddy van der Hoorn, who lashed a brilliant volley which dipped and bounced just in front of Jim’s outstretched arms. In a flash, Jim gathered and smothered it to his chest all in one movement. It was brilliant, utterly brilliant and to this day I can still see Billy McKinlay tapping in the rebound and taking the game to extra time. Only he didn’t, because as I said, Jim NEVER dropped anything.

The only thing that separated the pair was kicking. The advent of the backpass rule meant that Jim’s only real weakness – which was something that Goram excelled in – allowed Andy to take over and become “Scotland’s number one” for many, many years. Just as those Hearts fans had predicted.

The Big One

The final member of the trio was big Rab Douglas. Rab was different to the other two in that he was a man mountain. A colossus of a goalkeeper, with hands bigger than Charles Green’s. A much bigger presence in the box, he would use every inch of his physical frame to stop the ball from going in. Where Jim and Andy had a natural agility, big Rab used his frame just as effectively. He was a great signing for Alex Rae and I when I was Assistant Manager at Dundee for two reasons – one; he was an excellent goalkeeper and for us to get him in the first division was a real coup, and two; he gave us an identity with the fans and the local community as he had already been a club legend. It was great credit to Rab that he signed for us at a huge financial loss to himself. He just wanted to play for his beloved ‘Dee again.

One thing I have to say though is that there are times in a dressing room as a Manager or Assistant when you have to be fearless. You can’t show any weakness in the way you treat the ‘big men’ of your team, both in stature and in importance. Sometimes they need to be made an example of, but it can be very difficult when you see someone the size of big Rab in front of you. In fairness, if it came to it Rab would take it as well as any man, which is just as well, because let me tell you if the big man had turned on us, the race to the door between myself and Alex would have been an interesting one.

So there you have it, the so-called “Goalie Hater” isn’t really a goalie hater at all. More of a “cheap goals given away” hater. I think that’s just the natural defender in me. So as long as all the TV cameras are covering games and highlighting these goalkeeping mistakes, my pals in the goalies union will continue to get it both barrels. Except for BIG Rab of course…

Now for this weeks Tips. A poor start last week with neither Peterhead or East Fife managing to win. I’ll give it two more weeks, but if my record doesn’t improve, the Tipster feature will become a thing of the past. Here goes; I fancy Morton at home to Stranraer (5/6), East Fife at home to Berwick (4/6) and Annan at home to Queens Park (8/13). Fingers crossed for a nice 4/1 treble.

David Farrell

10 thoughts on “THE GOALIE HATER?

    • Thanks for the critique. Don’t really get the financial advisor analogy and would have hoped for the criticism to be a little more constructive, however I take ur comments on board and will endeavour to improve my writing style in the coming months


  1. Davie.

    I always remember growing up watching a poor hibs team and wondering why we didn’t have more grafters like you!

    I recall a goal against Partick and a lie down celebration! Think it may have been a 5-1 win maybe even Boxing Day one year about 93/94

    Whatever you do buddy keep at it, forget the ex footballer haters and be yourself. As the saying goes it’s not the size of the dog in the fight…………

    That relates to you Goram and Leighton. With Rab he is a big dog anyway!


  2. You might hate the goalie a little more after Sundays derby I’ve been to the first two games & he’s not the answer for us . Doesn’t command his box & the two cross he did come for flapped at both missing one completely & the other half catching it before dropping it. I hope am wrong but he could be a weakness for us against hertz set plays & their physical presence . Got to agree with the comment above . Watched you during that time at Hibs & wonder why someone with your passion & hatred of losing played less than some of the so called better players at that time . Thought A.M. must have disliked you!!!


  3. Now for the hornets nest you have stirred up in my mind. The 3 keepers ‘killed’ me!
    Goram- sure they say that on his headstone will read ‘ broke Celtic’s heart’
    Leighton- envied Aberdeen for having him as their goalie, great agility.
    Douglas – a ‘coo’. A nightmare for me following Celtic as he gifted our greatest rivals at that time almost a goal every game. In all his time at Celtic I can only recall one save of note (at Anfield from a. Gerrard volley in the Seville season)
    My own personal thoughts of course…


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