Vale John Goold

7 Jun 2024

Flamboyant Victorian polo player John ‘Raggsy’ Goold has died.

The gifted AFL footballer, polo player, fox hunter and raconteur was 82.

The father of noted Australia polo player Ed Goold, John was one of the sport’s great characters.

Through the ‘70’s, 80’s and 90’s and following the end of his celebrated AFL career with Carlton, John was a gifted polo player.

At his peak a 6 goaler, John played with and against the best in the country in his generation.

Usually playing with the Victoria western district club of Hexham, John was renowned nationwide for his superb string of ponies – mostly bred along  New Zealand thoroughbred lines.

He was a fierce competitor on the field and particularly voluble in his instructions to teammates, opposition and umpires.

Former Australian player John Patterson described John as one of the sport’s most colorful characters.

“Talk about a sportsman, he was one of the best. He brought the Ron Barrassi mentality about team play into polo from his footballing days.”

“John had a very good eye for horses so he was always extremely well-mounted.

“At his best he was outstanding with great eye / hand coordination.

“Off the field there was never a dull moment – if he was 6 goals on the field he was 12 goals off.

Goulburn legend Richard Maple-Brown was a regular foe and said John ‘attracted or created’ drama wherever he went.

“He was a force of nature; always with a view; always passionate; always with drama around him”

“He arrived in NSW in the ‘70’s with long flowing hair, tight breeches and at full volume”.

“I went with him to the Melbourne Cup one year and it was like walking in with God. He had not long stopped playing AFL and he knew everyone and everyone knew him. He was marvellous.”

“John never underestimated his own ability – fortunately he had plenty of it!”

“When he was running hot he was a very talented player and off the field he always had something to say”

“John was one of the great characters of the sport”.

Victorian polo legend Ted Mann was a long-time team mate playing in the Hexham A team.

“He was great to play in front of as he always hit backhands that were superbly placed for the running forwards.”

“John also had a great lust for learning and would seek out those from whom he thought he could learn. He never stopped his quest for knowledge right to the end.”

“His string of ponies was always the envy of the polo world as he put a lot of time into breeding and training his horses.”

Polo Hall of Fame Immortal, Sinclair Hill described John as ‘one of the great characters that I have known”.

“Incredible. Amazing. Great Australian. We were all able to enjoy someone who was so different and so beautiful.

“I’ve lost a dear friend.

NSWPA president Peter White described John as an enigma.

“He was volatile yet passionate, scolding yet rewarding, hard yet soft. In all he was a gentleman.”

“He took great pride in presenting himself and his horses or hounds at their best. Everything had to be immaculate.

“I watched him play polo and then went hunting with him. At both he was superb.

“He was a fabulous house guest with a tall story for every occasion and always a gentleman.

“He would say that a gentleman always uses a spoon in the marmalade jar, never a knife even when dining alone.” 

Peter Bennetto knew John well and played polo against him in the late 1980’s before joining him on the hunting field through the ‘90s.

“John was super talented at everything he tried and beyond stylish.”

“On the hunt field he was imperious, demanding and masterful”.

“His ability, his damn assuredness, his generosity – such a bright light to which I’ve been drawn much of my life”.

APF Hall of Fame chair Jeremy Bayard described John as one of the great characters of the sport in the past 50 years.

“He was the dominating character in Victorian polo in the ‘80’s and ‘90’s. He was at his enigmatic, passionate, expressive and outrageous best.

“He had the smartest truck, the best horses and played every game as though it was his last.

“He wanted everything his way and terrorized tournament organizer’s about grounds, play times, yards and the draw. He was an absolute force of nature.

“He could go from screaming and shouting to laughing in the same sentence. He was always immense fun after a game or an argument, win or lose.

“He had mellowed in more recent years and found great friendship with former foes.

Queensland legend Stuart Gilmore described John as an true eccentric.

“He was so fierce and a brilliant sportsman. Making it to the top in two sports shows just how good he was.

“He was so brilliantly mounted and very difficult to play against.”

“What a great competitor and such great company off the field”

“He certainly made his mark on the world.”

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