The God Squad look back at their heavenly partnership that made life hell for defenders
The God Squad were a heavenly strike partnership for Alfreton, who made life hell for non-league defenders.
Mick Godber and Micky Goddard were the perfect ‘big and small’ act – the former acting as a targetman and the latter as the runner.
In a combined 313 appearances for the Reds, the pair found the net 160 times.
Chris Wilder – now manager at League Two Northampton – was the man who brought them together, shortly after taking over the reigns at Alfreton.
That season brought unpredecented success, with Godber and Goddard helping to fire Alfreton to a Northern Counties East League Premier title, along with League Cup, President’s Cup and Derbyshire Senior Cup glory.
Goddard began his career with Hallam before an injury-disrupted spell at Worksop Town and signed for Alfreton late in 2001.
A few weeks later, Godber arrived, via Kiveton Park, Staveley and Sheffield FC.
They both look back favourably on the decision to move to Alfreton.
Godber, 42, said: “Alfreton without a shadow of a doubt was my happiest days as a player.
“When we first came in they were in the North East Counties Premier and we won three promotions on the spin.
“We did quite well and it was a great club to play for, well run by the chairman.”
Goddard, 37, agrees, and credits Wilder for celebrating the players and creating a culture of success.
“When Chris got the job he made an approach and I think Alfreton paid Worksop about £5,000 for me.
“I had to drop back into the Northern Counties, and I wasn’t going to initially because Worksop were in the first round of the FA Cup at Bournemouth, but I had to make a decision.
“It was a great decision, looking back. Chris was the best manager I played for. I always tell people he used to make tea for everyone, he always looked after the players because it’s them who keep you in your job.
“The atmosphere was brilliant.”
The strikers hit the ground running, scoring seven between them in their first game against Garforth.
It was the difference in their style and stature that made the partnership so deadly.
That was what led then Alfreton boss Wilder to bring the pair in.
He said: “We just wanted someone who could run in behind, and who was quick, and someone who could link it.
“They could both score.
“I knew them both from in and around Sheffield and the chairman backed it, we paid a couple of quid for both of them.
“They were good as gold, linked up well and they were very easy to work with.”
Godber was well aware of his role: “The partnership worked quite well for us. He was more of a runner, he was quite quick when he was younger.
“My job was to get hold of it, and get into the box.
“We had good players around us, players like Ryan France, Chris Bettney, Steve Johnson in midfueld, Wilder at right-back and Carl Bradshaw.”
Goddard puts it in more rudimental terms: “He was the big lump and I was playing off the shoulder.
“We were the perfect big and small.
“That year Mick won leading goalscorer and I think I was about two behind him, I got maybe 35 or 36.”
Mansfield Chad sports reporter Gordon Foster coined the nickname ‘The God Squad’ and their reputation soon began to precede them.
“I used to joke about it with Micky,” said Godber.
“I would say he got some of my goals, because our names were so similiar.”
Being a well known partnership wasn’t always a positive, however.
“We did have a reputation, which was good and bad,” said Goddard.
“I remember one game when I was suspended and Mick, who was diabetic, took ill before the game and I overheard someone from the opposition say: “We might have a chance, the God Squad aren’t playing.”
“But it’s not great to be targetted because teams know about you.”
Alfreton weren’t the only club to benefit from the understanding and relationship built up by the God Squad.
After tasting success upon success at Alfreton, they linked up together again at Retford United, after a few seasons apart.
Goddard had spent two seasons with Ilkeston, and then moved to Stocksbridge Park Steels for a year.
Godber, in his second season at Retford, was made player/assistant manager by new boss Pete Duffield, and they brought Goddard in.
But it wasn’t as productive a spell as their Alfreton heyday.
“It wasn’t like it was before,” admitted Godber.
Goddard added: “Personally, and in terms of achievement, Alfreton was the best spell of my career.
“At Retford Mick was in his first managerial job, and I think it was hard for him to juggle that and playing – it was a big transition.”
Financial trouble at Retford saw the duo part ways to go and finish their careers at different clubs.
Godber went with Duffield to Belper and then Handsworth Parramore, where he’s now caretaker manager.
Goddard played at Sheffield FC, Goole and Frickley Athletic, where after a three-month stint, he hung up his boots.
Leaving Retford wasn’t the end of their friendship, however.
“I spoke to Micky the other week,” said Godber. “He lives up towards Glossop now, but we’re still in touch.”
“On and off the field we were good friends,” adds his erstwhile goalscoring partner.
“We’re still in touch. You find you have a lot of acquaintances in football, but you find a couple of friends who you stay in contact with. Mick is that nice of a bloke he’s probably got a lot of people like that.”
Nowadays the duo who made a name for themselves through their differences, have something in common.
Godber runs Dinnington Town Under 10s, the junior team that his nine-year-old son Harry plays for.
He said: “I’ve had them since they were six when my son started playing and they needed a manager. I do enjoy it, we’ve got a good little set up.”
Goddard has a son of the same age, and like Godber’s youngster, he plays football.
“I help out coaching my little one’s team,” he said.
“Jake plays for Denton Youth in Glossop.”
Whether or not the junior God Squad make it to football’s semi-professional ranks, they already have something in common – a dad who was part of one of the region’s most revered goalscoring double attacks.