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LOTW - 14/6/07 - Bobby Johnstone


Stevie_J
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Welcome to the twelfth Latics Legend of the Week. This week it's one for the oldies (*ducks*), a man who many won't have seen play, but I'd love to know more about him; it's the man from Selkirk (where I'm moving to next month!), Bobby Johnstone.

We're looking for you, our members, to post their memories, anecdotes and stories of our weekly Legend. Anything at all.

Mate of yours? Met him in a pub? Go to school with his Mrs? Get hit by his car? Had a scuffle with him?!
Anything and everything!

If you have access to some season stats or career stats then post those too; pictures, videos, songs, etc, etc...!?
Post them all!!

And apologies that this is a day late - life's a bit hectic at the moment!


A couple of very simple rules:
1. Please stay on the topic of a single legend at once... it probably apparent why by now.
(If you would like to suggest an upcoming legend then please feel free to PM me)
2. Please don't post anything which may subject you to libel... as OWTB cannot be held responsible for that.
3. Have fun!

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Of all the legends featured Bobby Johnstone is the first one I can actually say I really knew as a person.

 

I never saw him play as he was before even my time, although having heard many tales about him as a player and heard many peoples tributes to him, he must have been some player.

He played at the very top level in his time and came to Latics later in his career, even so by all accounts he was one of the best we have ever had.

 

I did get to know him very well long after he had retired from the game.

Him and his wife had settled in Hollinwood (he used to live in a maisonette flat on Withens Road) after he retired.

His daughter Nicola was in my class at school althrough my schooling from Infant to Juniors and then Secondary School.

I got to know him relly well as he used to go in the same local Bookies as me in the eighties and nineties.

He was a very quiet but really nice guy, not a big punter just a small flutter, more to occupy his time than anything else really.

We had some good chats about Latics and football in general.

He did tell me that he enjoyed playing at Citeh more than anywhere else he played, but he conceded that he obviously did like Oldham as that is where he settled after his retirement from the game.

I also remember he did like a drink as well, he moved back to Scotland in the late nineties before his death.

 

A really nice guy, and a tremendous player, I would have loved to have seen him play.

 

True Legend.

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lotwjohnstonept5.jpg

 

Welcome to the twelfth Latics Legend of the Week. This week it's one for the oldies (*ducks*), a man who many won't have seen play, but I'd love to know more about him; it's the man from Selkirk (where I'm moving to next month!), Bobby Johnstone.

 

We're looking for you, our members, to post their memories, anecdotes and stories of our weekly Legend. Anything at all.

 

Mate of yours? Met him in a pub? Go to school with his Mrs? Get hit by his car? Had a scuffle with him?!

Anything and everything!

 

If you have access to some season stats or career stats then post those too; pictures, videos, songs, etc, etc...!?

Post them all!!

 

And apologies that this is a day late - life's a bit hectic at the moment!

 

A couple of very simple rules:

1. Please stay on the topic of a single legend at once... it probably apparent why by now.

(If you would like to suggest an upcoming legend then please feel free to PM me)

2. Please don't post anything which may subject you to libel... as OWTB cannot be held responsible for that.

3. Have fun!

 

The best player EVER to play for Oldham Athletic. That's the opinion of both my parents, who have been supporting the Latics since the 1940's. Who am I to disagree?!! The word "Legend" was invented for this man.

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Well before my time but my Dad's favourite Latics player ever, and he's been going for 60 years this season! He's been described to me as being similar to Andy Ritchie but better; Bobby was miles ahead in terms of footballing ability than anything else in the division at the time.

 

Perhaps different from many other LOTW players in that he was a genuine international class player who played at the highest level of the game. One of the "famous 5 Hibs" players of the 50's that also formed the backbone of the Scotland team. In his day he was a reasonable cricketer too.

 

We had a thread on this board recently posing the question "who would put 2000 on Latics gate?" Well as a sign of the respect that Bobby was held in by football fans, on his debut for Latics 17,116 turned up to watch, up to that point in the season home attendances were around the 4000 mark! He was also part of the Latics side that faced Liverpool in 1962 when 42,000 turned out at BP (can you imagine that now!) and gave them a good game. This game has always been famous in our house because my Dad brought my Mum home 2 days early from their honeymoon so he could go!

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HTC, GoC & TL, thanks for that. Like I said, I'd really love to know more about Bobby. I've been in the Borders a while and, as you can imagine, to fans of Selkirk FC he is THE footballing legend.

 

From the snippets I've heard, for Latics he was every bit as good as you've all described.

 

Keep 'em coming, all...

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As ghostofcecere said Bobby Johnstone was the man who put bums on seats - he transformed BP attendances in the early 1960s. Bernard Halford, the Club's Assistant Secretary at the time, is reported to have recalled, "He transformed the club, no doubt about that. He had the crowds flocking down Sheepfoot Lane, even though Athletic had dropped into the Fourth Division. I think it was the only period in my life when I regularly told lies. On match days the phone never stopped ringing. ‘Is Johnstone playing?’ Bobby might have been sitting in my office with his ankle in plaster, but I had to say he was playing, otherwise the fans wouldn’t have turned up. It really was as cut and dried as that."

 

I saw him play for Citeh when he was at his peak, and I agree with ThaiLatic's parents that he is the best ever Latics' player seen in my lifetime. He was overweight when he joined us - his stomach seemed to start under his chin - I think it's known as 'barrel-chested'! He had no pace, but he was a brilliant footballer - he made the ball do the work. If Richie Wellens is supposed to be a midfield general, he would have given up the game in shame if he'd seen Bobby play - there is absolutely no comparison. He rarely wasted a ball and directed pin-point passes all over the field. His defence-splitting passes would bring gasps and applause from the crowd. He took free kicks and as he stood over the ball, he would start to engage the ref in a conversation while at the same time passing the ball to a team mate, with the opposition off-guard. You had to see it to understand. He was what was called a ball-artist - a term you don't hear very often these days.

 

His transfer fee from Hibs must be the best £4,000 the Club ever spent. Thanks Bobby for all the pleasure you gave to Latics' fans.

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according to old man bobby johnstone is the greatest player ever to wear a tics shirt by a country mile, when he listed his top team BJ was the first man on the team sheet.

 

we both knew bobby late on as he used to play crown green bowls like ourselves and was a really decent player . he was a very mild natured chaacter with a top sense of humour, but never liked talking about football too much later in his life.

 

to my dad knowing bobby quite wellas her did would be like me mates wiv andy ritchie.

 

just think for the old fellow playing against him at bowls having a chat about whatever and then having a drink after thats just fantastic, could you imagine doing that wiv with footy hero ten fifteen twenty years after you were chanting his name for the terraces, would be brill

 

sorry i didnt see him play - thats my memory of Bobby Johnstone

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>>Bobby Johnstone<< The Passing of an Age

 

Half a century ago, Bobby Johnstone became the first player to score in consecutive F.A. Cup finals at Wembley. Today, such an achievement would bring worldwide fame, whilst fortunes are available to rather ordinary footballers. Yet Bobby Johnstone did not earn his fortune. Born at the end of the 1920's, at Selkirk, in the Scottish borders, his early life was tough. After the war, Bobby's began his football career with Selkirk F.C., but the mighty Hibernian soon noticed. Hibs had not won a major trophy for over forty years, but they assembled the all-international forward line of Smith, Johnstone, Reilly, Turnbull and Ormond, known as the "Famous Five", and their golden age began. He went on to play for Manchester City and Oldham Athletic. He left a rich sporting legacy; his were the days of the heavy leather football, the heaving terraces, and the true unpredictability of the outcome; wingers like Matthews, terraced club-houses, and the maximum wage. The book tells Bobby's footballing story, from time he followed his father as a player for Selkirk, through his fabulous career, and onto retirement. The stories of his progress are illuminated in interviews with those who played alongside Bobby at every stage of his career. The town of Selkirk provides a historical backdrop to the story, as it did to Bobby's life, and his death in 2001. These and others contribute to the fascinating story of the type of footballer whose day is seemingly gone - it is the story of the passing of an age.
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My grandad always used to tell me a tale about Bobby Johnstone where he would repeatedly say modern footballers wouldnt have the sense or quick thinking to do what he did. Johnstone was out on the touchline being jostled for the ball by 3 defenders, it looked like he would lose the ball, allowing the other team to attack. But back in those days the stand was of course a lot closer to the pitch than today, so Johnstone, thinking quickly, just knocked the ball against the boarding at the bottom of the stand, it bounced back, nutmegged the defender and Johnstone turned and launched an attack in which Latics scored!

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I'd started watching Latics a month before Bobby Johnstone arrived and the impact he had over the next few years was enormous. As has been mentioned his debut saw over 17000, his reputation for what he'd done for Man City was strong and the respect he had locally was enormous. It was a master stroke by manager Jack Rowley. Bobby was a player who , when he got the ball, controlled the game. If an opponent dived in his control enabled him to skip past or round the tackle. His accuracy and vision in passing was phenomenal and the partnership he had with others such as Bert Lister, Johnny Colquhoun and Cloj Whitaker was vital.

Two matches in particular I remember. In April 1961 I went with my parents to the away match at Mansfield. Two goals from Bobby Dazzler including a great chip over the wall from a free kick - this was the stuff that "continentals" did! The other at home to Liverpool in the FA Cup in 1962. Nearly 42000 in Boundary Park and Bobby had a great game , in his element against Bill Shankly's rising stars.

 

He stopped in the Oldham area for a long time, a regular at crown green bowls I believe. One of the most influential players ever in a Latics shirt.

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