Good times never seemed so Goode
The first game of rugby Alex Goode watched was in the late nineties – Saracens vs London Wasps at Bramley Road.
This Saturday he is set to run out for his 300th Sarries appearance against the now Coventry-based outfit.
It’s funny how things go full circle.
Goode has been an integral part of the Saracens squad since making his club debut 12 years ago, starting in a 25-20 Premiership win over Bristol three days after his 20th birthday.
He took to the level like a duck to water, settling any nerves with a second-minute penalty before adding a further nine points from the boot.
It was the beginning of his journey to becoming a real Saracens favourite and he will become just the fourth player to reach the 300-mark for the Men in Black.
“It’s an absolute privilege to have been here my whole career and to enjoy those memories with my teammates who I love.”
Two of those started alongside Goode on his maiden outing in 2008 – Kris Chesney and Kevin Sorrell – and the latter believes his talent was there for everyone to see from day one.
“With Goodey, the biggest compliment you can say to him is that some sports people in different sports make things look easy,” 304-time capped Sorrell said.
“Goodey makes things look incredibly easy and they’re very complex things but his feel for certain situations is unbelievable and that’s what he’s developed over time.
“He’s shown how durable he is. He’s played consistently well from a young age for us since he broke into the team. We saw he was a special talent and I think he has built on that year on year. Even to this day he’s developing as a player and I think it’s testament to his hard work that he’s had that longevity.
“He had a natural feel for it but he’s worked on it and his grasp for the game and his tactical knowledge awareness… like when you sit with him and talk to the cues he’s picking up on, what he’s looking for, he’s one step ahead of all the other players. His brain is a massive asset for him.”
One man who has benefitted from Goode’s creative genius is ex-Sarries wing Chris Ashton.
The Wigan-born cross-code convert scored 76 tries in 118 games whilst in north London, many of which involved an element of Goode magic, including the opener in the 2017 Champions Cup final as the Wolfpack retained their European crown.
Ashton admits it did take a while for the duo to connect on the field but insists their perception of each other certainly changed as soon as they became teammates.
“I played against him a lot when I was at Northampton. I didn’t really like him too much and he’d probably say likewise to me!” the Harlequin quipped.
“It’s funny how you always have that impression of people until you actually get to know them. We’ve always got on really well, but it took a little bit of time to get our relationship going rugby wise. Once we did get connected it was easy for me to follow him and know I could work off him. Part of that is because he just reads the game so well.
“He is a selfless player, who is always for the team and you can tell that by when he switches position and has no qualms about it at all; he’ll do what’s needed for the team. I’ve benefitted a lot from him being outside him. He could have given me more, but I did get an awful amount of tries off him! My favourite try with him is without doubt the Champions Cup final try.”
Ashton added: “It’s amazing for any player to get to 300 games at one club especially these days as there’s not many players knocking around like that anymore. I know he’s going on a quick sabbatical soon to Japan, but he’ll be back!
“He’s a real fan favourite there, the club love him and he’s been the cornerstone of the success of the club. Being there for such a long time, he’s been through all the changes and seen all the success to and he deserves every bit of it in my mind.”
Goode has collected his fair share of points in a Sarries jersey, too, notching 643 in his 299 matches to date.
His quality has been recognised along the way. The 32-year-old was awarded Premiership Player of the Year for the 2015/16 campaign and was deservedly crowned the best player in Europe in 2019, starring in Saracens’ run to a third title in the competition.
He has also appeared 21 times for England, a number which a high number of people believe is way shy of amount it should be, including Director of Rugby Mark McCall who praised the full-back for his commitment to the club.
“It’s a brilliant personal milestone for Goodey but it’s not just the amount of games that he’s played for the club, it’s the quality that he’s shown in all of those games,” McCall said.
“I think we all wish 250 of them had been for us and 50 for England and a lot of us believe that’s what he deserved. It’s an incredible achievement.
“He’s always been an incredible talent and that’s still the case but his understanding of the game, his knowledge of the game, his ability to help those, support those and educate those around him has been wonderful as well. He’s been a great servant for this club and it’ll be a great day for him.”
Over 12 years Goode has made a countless amount of memories playing for Saracens – not just memories for himself, but for supporters and teammates, alike.
From October until May he will experience something new in Japan with the NEC Green Rockets, but a further few years in NW4 and an opportunity to add to his already fantastic Sarries journey awaits the other side.
“Sometimes it feels like it’s gone very slowly, sometimes it’s just flown by and I think the overriding feeling is just so many memories and great times on and off the field,” Goode said.
“I really have to thank my teammates so much. They’ve given me so much joy day in, day out and everyone involved at the club, from the top down, have given me and my family so much and so many memories. I’m unbelievably proud to do it at the club I love, the first club I ever watched a Premiership game of is really special and something I’ll hold very dear.
“To know I’m coming back for two years and to have the chance to play even more for this club, the club that I love, is a dream. I’ve loved every minute and it’s an absolute privilege to have been here my whole career and to enjoy those memories with my teammates who I love.”