Unlike most of his fellow players, who tended to be tradesmen or skilled labourers, Arthur Godfrey Goodson was one of a small cohort of soccer-playing Melbourne professionals. Born in 1886 and educated at Leeds Central High School, he went on to take a BSc at Leeds University where he excelled at sport, gaining a double blue for football and track sports.

In 1913 he took a position as a science tutor at Scotch College in Melbourne where he was admired by the boys and masters alike. It seems that Arthur Goodson was a man who stood out in a crowd by standing back from it. Modest and unassuming, he shone through his deeds and not his words.

If he was shocked to find an absence of soccer posts at the school (Scotch not taking up soccer until the 1970s), he was able to satisfy his sporting desire in the bustling soccer culture of pre-War Melbourne. Indeed, Goodson made an immediate impression. A no-doubt proud Yorkshireman (what other kind is there?), he played for the Scottish-based Melbourne Thistle, suggesting the possibility of a link between the school and the Scottish faction of Melbourne soccer at the time. He also represented the local England team in its annual game against Scotland in 1914 and captained the team in 1915.

In match reports, references to Goodson abound. As a ‘Roy of the Rovers’ type centre half he was everywhere: breaking up play; heading clear; delivering good long balls to his forwards; and scoring free kicks, penalty kicks and goals from open play – a Mile Jedinak of a different age.

Studio portrait of 2nd Lieutenant Arthur Godfrey Goodson, 24th Battalion of Learmonth, Vic. He embarked with the 9th Reinforcements on 16 February 1916. Courtesy, Australian War Memorial.

Studio portrait of 2nd Lieutenant Arthur Godfrey Goodson, 24th Battalion of Learmonth, Vic. He embarked with the 9th Reinforcements on 16 February 1916. Courtesy, Australian War Memorial.

Goodson enlisted in the AIF in June 1915 and married Ada Baird of Learmonth, Ballarat a month later. Between this time and his embarkation on 8 February 1916, Goodson played soccer only sporadically, his every absence mentioned in the reports as a chance for the opposition to obtain a rare victory against the mighty Thistle.

Killed in action at Pozieres on 3 August 1916, Arthur Godfrey Goodson is buried in the Pozieres British Cemetery (Plot I, Row E, Grave No. 33), Ovillers-La-Boisselle, France. 

Every death at war is a tragedy for the individuals, their families and their communities. Yet I suspect that the loss of Goodson was a deep blow for all involved in Melbourne soccer. When he fell we lost a bright star.

Thanks to Paul Mishura, Scotch College Archivist for his valuable assistance researching this story. Images courtesy of the Australian War Memorial and The Scotch Collegian.

This is the fourth part of Ian Syson’s We Shall Remember Them series on soccer Anzacs. Funding for this series was provided by Football Federation Victoria.