A new life for cricket umpire Fred Goodall

00:25, Sep 14 2013

Fred Goodall is happy to have a visitor.

He's clicked over to 75 and is minding his own business in Newlands where he is adjusting to life after a double heart bypass.

Goodall sits in his Lazy Boy chair, occasionally moving forward when he wants to highlight a point.

He has a large flatscreen TV, which he watches live sport and the history and arts channels on. But he can't sit there all day.

"The doctors have told me to walk for 45 minutes, four times a week. It is a steady walk, not a Sunday afternoon stroll."

Goodall was a cricket umpire until the West Indies teams of the 1980's broke him.

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He then found peace throwing the javelin and officiating in the throwers circle.

Instead of shouting "no ball" he was suddenly saying "no throw".

He is a serial official. He's into his 56th year. This winter he stood on roads and tracks marshalling cross country runners. He looks forward to next month, when the track and field season gets underway at Newtown Park.

He can't throw the javelin because the heart surgery weakened his breast bone but he gets his kicks from wearing a white coat.

"It is just like watching for a no ball," Goodall says.

"When they turn around in the shot put and discus circle you have to watch the toe. You watch like a hawk."

Goodall could talk about his javelin career all day. He's less comfortable talking about the West Indies trio of Colin Croft, Clive Lloyd and Viv Richards.

He recounts the stories but doesn't want them appearing in print today for fear of re-opening all the old wounds.

He wrote 23 chapters for a book but pulled stumps on it in 1991 and now the manuscript sits in a drawer.
Goodall doesn't forgive easily. He's never wanted to make peace with the West Indies trio.

He remembers someone in the media trying to tee-up a reconciliation with Croft, when the latter returned to New Zealand as a radio commentator in 1990-2000.

"Somebody from the press came to my flat in Rintoul St in Newtown and I saw this guy coming up the stairs and I went to the door and said to the guy 'no I'm not talking to him. Goodbye.' I knew immediately what they were trying to do.

"I have crossed paths and shaken hands with the 1980's captain (Lloyd). He apologised to me at the top of stairs at the Basin. We quickly shook hands. It was, sort of, for a couple of watchers on."

How did you feel?

"All right."

Goodall is good with dates and numbers. His best throw was 39.87m. He umpired 24 tests in 24 years. He is the game's youngest test umpire at 27 years 32 days. He had his bypass surgery in 2008. He was No 151 on the hospital waiting list in Wellington so they switched him to Hamilton. The operation cost $35,000. He was "out for nine hours" and in hospital for nine days. His second wife Di is the "breadwinner". Yesterday was the 20th anniversary of her employment at IRD. His daughters are 48 (Florida-based Anne) and 45 (Christchurch-based Helen). His mum wanted to live till 90, but died five years ago aged 89.

"She had a good innings".

While on numbers, I ask him about Richard Hadlee's 300th wicket.

Conspiracy theorists reckon Goodall wanted to be part of history when he raised his finger for an eternity to adjudge Allan Border leg before wicket.

"Paddles said to me 'I had (Geoff) Marsh out earlier in the morning and you didn't give it'.

"I can see now 'that bloody Goodall has put his finger up because he wants to be in on the act of being part of the 300th wicket for Paddles'.

"He autographed that photo of me, appealing to me and me doing that. I can see the point you are making. 'Ah bloody Goodall getting in on the act'."

Border wasn't his most controversial call. That came years earlier at Hagley Oval when he gave Walter Hadlee out in a club game.

"The day I gave Walter Hadlee out on Hagley Oval the whole four matches all stopped.

"No umpire had the guts to give him out. I was a West Coaster. Ten minutes later was afternoon tea and all the umpires from all the games gathered together and I got lectured by them. 'You must be 100 percent certain'. I was 100 percent certain."

Like anyone, Goodall worries about this and that.

He wishes he was around more when his daughters were growing up rather than refereeing rugby and working part time in the territorials, on top of teaching geography at St Andrew's College in Christchurch and umpiring.

He worries about melanoma after years of umpiring without a hat or sunblock.

But one thing he doesn't worry about his hasty departure from umpiring. In 1989 he walked away or as he calls it "BOQ". Buggered off quickly.

The Dominion Post