Longtime Clevelander Robert Goins can boast of a record that very few Blue Raiders fans can even come close to.
For a span of 40 years, from 1972-2012, Goins did not miss a single Cleveland football game, home or on the road.
“I wouldn’t change any of those years for nothing. It’s been fun, even when some years weren’t so good,” Goins stated. “I’ve had a real good time all of these years and liked the traveling.”
The 65-year-old’s roots in football can be traced back to 1963, when he was at Arnold Junior High.
“I went to Arnold Junior High School. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I actually played with the (players on the) first Cleveland High School football team,” Goins explained. “I only lasted for about a year, though, because my health was kind of bad.”
Despite his long tenure as a Raider fan, Goins admitted that he originally started out as a local Bear booster.
“I was a Bradley fan before I was a Cleveland fan. My cousin played for Bradley on their (1961) state championship team,” Goins said.
While Goins and his father Paul quickly made the switch to the newly founded Cleveland team, his brother Robert continued to be a member of the Bears’ faithful until 1975.
When it all comes down to it though, the well-traveled football fan can’t help but wish for the best for all local teams.
“I hope all of our teams do good, honestly,” Goins continued. “When Bradley isn’t playing Cleveland, I’m a Bradley fan. When they play Cleveland though, I’ve got to pull for Cleveland.”
“My ‘Super Bowl’ was when they (CHS) beat Bradley, although I probably shouldn’t admit that,” Goins joked.
The superfan’s attendance record could have been well over 40 years, but a motorcycle wreck in 1968 resulted in some serious injuries that limited him to home games.
“I was laid up for three years, but I started back up in 1971. Then I didn’t miss a game from 1972-2012.”
Although drafted, the wreck prevented him from a tour of military duty during the Vietnam War.
“They actually served my papers to me in the hospital,” Goins explained. “Who knows, maybe that wreck saved my life. I would’ve gone though; my family has always been involved with the military.”
Both a retired Goins and his brother volunteer at the Veterans Cemetery (at Fort Hill), making sure that the grounds are kept up.
As a thank you, the American Legion supplies the brothers with season tickets to Cleveland’s football games.
According to Goins, being a Blue Raider fan must run in his family’s blood, because up until 1998, his father was right alongside him.
“I have to give my father some credit, he actually started going to Cleveland games back in 1966,” Goins commented. “Part of the reason I went to so many games was to take my father.”
Paul Goins passed away in 1998, but not before seeing some of the ‘Glory Days’ of Cleveland football under former head coach Benny Monroe.
“I remember going to Lincoln County, Franklin County, Tullahoma and Smyrna. At the Smyrna game in 1996, we had already started back because we thought Cleveland had lost, and it was freezing cold up there. We turned the radio on and found out that they had ended up winning that game,” Goins recalled. “I’m real glad my father got to see those state championships before he passed away.”
Original Cleveland coach Bobby Scott was a personal friend of Goins’ father, and Monroe and Leon Brown also made the seasoned fan’s list of favorite coaches, Monroe for a rather personal reason in addition to the teams he produced.
“When my father passed away in ’98, Benny Monroe came to his funeral. Before that, when my father was in the ICU, I called Benny and told him that my dad wasn’t going to make it. He came up there, went in the ICU and when the nurses asked him if he was family he said, ‘Of course I’m family.’ That’s a memory that I will never forget,” Goins described.
Over the years, Goins has seen many of the Raiders’ top moments, like their 54-game winning streak. He also watched scores of talented football players on the field.
“We’ve had some great players. In the ’60s, I’d have to go with Ronnie Weir, Bill Emendorfer and David Beckler. In the ’80s, the best quarterback was David Lorenza. Of course, Rod Davis was a good player. In the ’90s, I’d have to go with Kevin and Keith Cobb. We went up there and beat Maryville in 1993. We were beating everybody in Knoxville. All Benny had to do was call the play and if either one of them got the ball they were gone. Dante Hickey was the best player in 1994. I didn’t think we were going to win in ’95. I think it was mostly a team effort then.”
While Cleveland’s ‘best’ rivalry has been with Bradley, Goins also feels Red Bank and Rhea County have fun rivalries.
When at Benny Monroe Stadium, Goins can usually be found standing along the fence near the concession stand, or filling the seat his father used to occupy.
“Mostly I stand, but if I do sit down, I try to sit where my father used to always sit, over on what is now the visitors’ side, in space 54. I miss him being there with me,” Goins commented.
Having seen the highs and the lows of the Cleveland football program, Goins has some concerns for this year’s squad.
“I hope Cleveland does good this year, but I think they need to work on that running attack,” the superfan stated. “I’m worried about Cleveland this year.”
Health issues that arose in 2012 broke Goins’ perfect attendance record but he still makes every home game.
With his 66th birthday approaching on Oct. 1, it’s safe to say Goins will celebrate by going to see the Blue Raiders when they host East Hamilton on Oct. 3.
“I’m still excited to go to the games and as long as I’ve got this feeling I will keep on going. I’ve made some great memories.”