Ray Gooding leaves Coventry City for Newcastle
THE TIMING'S perhaps not ideal, but former Sky Blues midfielder Ray Gooding returns to the North East this weekend to take up his new job at Newcastle United.
Hartlepool-born Gooding, 49, took redundancy from Coventry City's academy this summer where he has been actively involved in recruitment for the last 20 years, and a first-team player in the mid 70s to early 80s before that.
But he joins former City academy director Richard Money's staff at St James' Park tomorrow where he will oversee the introduction of a football community programme in schools and be involved in recruitment of eight to 11-year-olds at the Magpies' academy, including a bit of scouting abroad.
"I am sad to leave Coventry which has been a big part of my life for the last 30-odd years, bar a short spell at Plymouth in between," said Gooding who has seen a host of young talent come through City's youth system during his time, including the likes of Gary McSheffrey, Calum Davenport and Chris Kirkland - to name just three.
"The club were looking to make savings at the academy and we agreed a package and I was then offered a bit of scouting at Newcastle which I thought would suit me.
"But then Richard Money called me and said he was looking to take on more people at the academy where he is now director. I went up to see Dennis Wise and the chairman and they offered me a more permanent position and I start this weekend."
Gooding was first signed by Gordon Milne in 1975/76 as an under-study to Terry Yorath and Barry Powell.
"I came down from Hartlepool as a 15-year-old boy and was fortunate to have played with the likes of Tommy Hutchison, Mick Ferguson, Ian Wallace and Gary Gillespie.
"I was always battling to get in the side ahead of Terry Yorath, who was the captain of Wales, and Barry Powell, so I got in the team now and again when one of them was injured.
"The club then sold Terry to Tottenham and I got a decent run in the side which, ironically, came to an end when we played Spurs at White Hart Lane and Terry did me and I tore my ankle ligaments.
"In 1982 or 83 the club decided to trim the squad and I joined Plymouth but I did my cruciate knee ligaments and it ended my career."
But by 1988 Gooding was back at City when John Sillett appointed him to work with John Peacock, now an England coach with the FA, working as a football development officer in the community at the club's centre of excellence.
He went on to be in charge of recruiting youngsters at the club and really hit it off with Money when he was appointed academy director during Gordon Strachan's managerial reign, the pair enjoying great success by developing a City youth team capable of making two FA Youth Cup finals.
That was in the heady days of the Premiership when the club could afford to invest heavily in youth development.
He said: "The last four or five years have been a massive struggle to compete with the other Midlands clubs because the budget and staffing levels have been cut year after year, which is a sad situation.
"But the club have got a terrific group of under-17s coming through and I wish Gregor Rioch and all the staff all the best. I have not got a bad word to say about the club which has been a huge part of my life and it has been a real wrench to leave."