I first met Jeremy Goss in 2007 after I’d arranged to do an interview for Backpass magazine.
It remains one of the most enjoyable interviews I have ever done with anyone.
He immediately came across as a genuinely modest and self effacing man, one who was grateful of what he had in life and deeply appreciative of the things that most of us take for granted. Like family, friends and being content with not only who he was, but what he had been and the journey that his life had so far taken.
Needless to say, I liked him immediately. It was refreshing to talk to someone who, despite, for me, having reached some great and hugely memorable heights in his football career, went to great lengths to emphasise how they were a team effort, the culmination of all the hard work he and his fellow professionals had put in at Norwich City over the years and that he was just one of them, a case of being in the right place at the right time and enjoying the rewards that all the hard work had brought them.
He described football as his passion, speaking fondly of it and the moments of fame and glory that it brought him. But he was also swift to lavish praise on the people he says did so much to help him achieve those heights. His Mum and Dad, his brothers and sisters, a teacher who, for many years, sent him some money to put towards a new pair of football boots. He also mentions the individuals at Norwich City who helped him throughout his career, people like Ronnie Brooks, Ken Brown, Dave Stringer and Mike Walker, the man who he says “had total faith in me”. Former team mates are named as well, notably Bryan Gunn, Mark Walton and Rob Newman.
And most of all his wife Margaret, who, along with their twin boys, Joseph and Jacob are the epicentre of Jeremy’s life today, tomorrow and for always. His love and devotion to them is total, they are the most precious things in his life, not the great goals he has scored or matches he has played in, nor the souvenirs he has collected as part of his time in the game.
His idea of heaven is a Saturday afternoon spent with his family. It could be anywhere. Walking on the beach perhaps, else just exploring somewhere new. Just him, Margaret and the boys.
A little over a quarter of a century ago, my idea of heaven, together with many thousands of other Norwich City supporters was watching our side complete the very first season of the Premier League, playing, as they did, football that had a certain joie de vivre about it, freedom of spirit and expression, daring, as the saying goes, to win. We dared, at the end of that 1992/93 season, to finish in third place in the Premier League. If we were to do that today there would probably be a public enquiry about it.
Jeremy played a full part in that memorable season plus the campaign that followed, one which included memorable goals at Leeds and Liverpool, as well as the three he scored in the UEFA Cup. So rapid was his elevation to star performer and BBC Goal of the Month winner that people thought he must have dramatically risen from the Norwich ranks, a young tyro elevated to the first team and taking his chance, one for the future if ever there was one.
Chelsea and Benfica certainly seemed to think so as, following Jeremy’s goal scoring exploits against Bayern Munich, both were reported to be preparing multi million pound offers to Norwich for his services.
Yet the truth of the matter is that Jeremy scored that vital equaliser against Bayern at Carrow Road in November 1993 nine and a half years after he had made his first team debut for the Canaries. He was 28 years old and had previously made, in the nine seasons prior to that opening Premier League campaign, just 68 first team starts for the club-an average of just over seven a season.
And that, just as much as all the goals and the glory we are all a lot more familiar with, was the story I wanted to tell and the motivation for my constantly asking him to sit down with me and tell it.
I’m very glad that, after much cajoling on my part, he eventually agreed to do just that.
EXTRACT FROM GOSSY
I was jostled and spat at by the Swindon fans as we walked from the coach to the dressing rooms. They were riled, completely so, and didn’t mind letting me know in the most obvious and threatening manner they could. Once we got to the relative safety of the dressing room, John Deehan had a quiet word.
“You are going to get battered today Gossy, but you bloody deserve it because what you said about them before the game was out of order. Completely out of order…but hey, bollocks to them, get out there.”
Moncur was at it from the start. Niggling away, making little comments, crafty asides to the ref and playing to the crowd who were loving it, especially when he took Chippy out. He’d had a second or so of glory before I was on him. Now the crowd, who had been cheering for him after he’d nobbled my mate were howling in protest, “off-off-off-off….” –it was all boiling up nicely, especially as they were now in amid us and spoiling for a fight. A couple of the more sensible Norwich boys started to get in-between warring parties, “..come on lads, don’t be silly, break it up”, that sort of thing whilst the ref was darting from one group to another blowing his whistle and saying to no-one in particular, “I’ll send someone off, I will, I’ll send someone off.” It didn’t really look as if anyone was taking much notice of him.
Then, out of the chaos, a figure appeared. Massive, big strides, shoulders you could land a light aircraft on.
Ladies and gentlemen, Mr B.Kilcline. Killer Kilcline to his friends. And enemies. He’s a big lad to say the least. Big enough for there to be an unwritten law in football: you don’t mess with Killer Kilcline.
The first person he saw was Rob Newman, hopping from foot to foot and imploring everyone to “calm down, calm down”-a bit like Harry Enfield’s Scouser’s West Country cousins. Naturally enough, Killer thought this must have meant that Rob had started it all. Simple enough logic. So he grabbed Rob, put him in a headlock and started rubbing the top of Rob’s head with his fist as he walks him away from the carnage, a bit like a lion dragging some helpless antelope off for its dinner.
“Come with me old son, I’ll teach you to muck about with my mate.”
Rob is panicking now. Who wouldn’t? “It wasn’t me, it wasn’t me. You’ve got the wrong man”
All for one and one for all?
“It was Gossy!”
The Premier League exploits, the UEFA Cup nights, the internationals with Wales is all included, of course it is.
But so is this lesser known part of Jeremy’s stories. The early rejections, the transfer requests, the time spent in the reserves, all of the frustrations, the anger and, at times, the loneliness and near despair.
Because that is as important a part in his life as the goals and glory.
We’ve tried to tell it as it is here. We hope you enjoy it.