At the beginning of 1974/75 Tommy Smales (the ex-loose-forward) quit due to the pressures of work, and this left Rovers somewhat in the lurch so early in the season. As a solution Rovers turned to Keith Goulding, a man upon whom the club would come to depend many times in the future. As a player he played 87 games at centre between 1950 and 1955. He was particularly unlucky not to have played at Wembley in 1952 when he appeared in 30 games that season including the semi-final but lost out to Don Metcalfe at Wembley.
Keith started his professional coaching career at York in November 1973 where he was a success, taking York to promotion in his first season in charge. When he was offered the Rovers job, he realised he would be working with a stronger squad, and so it proved. Featherstone, under Goulding’s guidance finished the year in fourth position, behind Saints, Leeds and Wigan. York struggled and were relegated. Incidentally, York replaced Keith Goulding with another former Rovers favourite Gary Cooper, and he in turn was succeeded by Mal Dixon, showing just what a breeding ground for coaches our club is.
Keith Goulding’s first game in charge was against St. Helens in October 1974. Despite losing that game, Keith’s fitness regime soon began to pay dividends and Rovers steadily climbed the table. After finishing fourth, Goulding set about building on that success the following year, and a very useful start saw Rovers placed second in the league when Keith Goulding surprisingly quit. His final game in charge was against Huddersfield in January 1976. He then handed over the reins to another fitness expert and former Rovers scrum-half Tommy Smales, who was then and for many years after the landlord of the Traveller’s Rest pub in Featherstone.
Within a couple of months of leaving Featherstone Goulding had found a new job as boss of Huddersfield, where he stayed until December 1976. After Keith Cotton quit as Rovers coach in December 1977, the club once again called on that safe pair of hands Goulding to steer them through the rest of the 1977/78 season. He began in phenomenal fashion as Rovers won ten games on the trot and raced to the semi-finals of the Cup. They lost that semi to Leeds in a very disappointing fashion after leading comfortably at half-time. Thereafter, things fell apart. The season ended in turmoil with a players’ strike over terms and Goulding left Rovers again, and was soon back coaching at Huddersfield.
His coaching involvement at the club was far from over however because when Allan Agar was appointed coach in December 1982 Keith Goulding came back to the club as his assistant. They enjoyed a further three years together at the helm.
Although his coaching career was affected to a certain extent by the coaching merry-go-round that plagued most club committees (including Rovers) in the 1970s, the fact remains that Keith Goulding posted some very good results in his two spells in charge and was a highly respected figure in rugby league coaching circles over fifteen years until his untimely death in 1987.
Keith Goulding’s coaching record:
74/75: Won 17 Drew 1 Lost 10.
75/76: Won 15 Drew 1 Lost 7.
77/8: Won 13 Drew 2 Lost 6.
Total: Won 45 Drew 4 Lost 23 = 65.28%