Paul Gooch was part of my childhood. It’s as simple as that. We grew up together in 1950’s Shepherds Bush and attended the same primary school, Victoria Junior Boys in Becklow Road. Although I have not spoken to Paul since January 1976 (Euston Station for the 2-0 defeat of Villa) it does not diminish the twinge of grief I feel at his sad and premature death.
We played football in the original ‘jumpers for goalposts’ format at Ravenscourt and Southfields Parks and also at the Victoria School playground during the far off days of the late 1950’s era. Paul was QPR through and through. I know for a fact that he was going to Loftus Road two seasons before me so that marks him down as an R’s supporter since the 1955/56 season. I’m sure there are many stories and anecdotes that can be told about his entire life but I am only able to relate mainly to those early years of long ago.
Paul was a likeable, eccentric kid from Emlyn Gardens, lithe with light brown hair, with a tendency to just stand around and ‘goal hang’ on the left wing. This was not always a popular style of play with some of the other lads, perhaps that’s why he subsequently became a referee ! Yes he had it tough as a child. I understand that there was an unfortunate family bereavement when his Father had a tragic fall from some scaffolding and certainly his personal circumstances were a struggle. It is also true to say that Paul had generosity and a kind heart as the following example will illustrate. Once when involved in a ‘kick about’ over at Ravenscourt Park with my brand new Frido plastic football, a great big German Shepherd dog came from nowhere and sunk its teeth into the ball, bursting it in an instant. As a ten year old boy I was distraught and in tears. Paul did his utmost to console me (no easy task I can tell you), when he bought me a glass of milk from the Tea House and generally calmed me down. He then went on to make every effort to trace the owner of the dog to seek redress.
The QPR stories about Paul are legion. My particular classic is from the December 1959 2nd Round FA Cup tie at Loftus Road against Port Vale. A thrilling 3-3 draw and Paul was in the Boys Pen decked out in traditional bobble hat and scarf, parading up and down the enclosure ringing this bell which had the longest piece of blue and white ribbon attached to it that I had ever seen in my life, dragging along the ground as he walked like some Royal bridal gown ! Alas all this fanatical display of support was to avail. Port Vale equalised five minutes from time and we lost the replay 2-1.
God bless you Paul, a true and loyal R’s supporter and childhood friend. In 1972 at the entrance to Turf Moor, you were thwarted in your attempts to air your views with Chairman Jim Gregory. Okay Paul you may have failed at the Burnley Gates but your chance has come again in the proximity of the Pearly Gates ! This time no brush off eh
Bernard Lambert (Kerrins)