HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE

Alan Anthony JOHNSON

Year Inducted 2017
Date of Birth 20th November 1956

Player 1975-1990 (Perth 1975-1981, Melbourne 1982-1990)

Games: 281 (Perth 140, Melbourne 135, WA 6)

Goals: 251 (Perth 154, Melbourne 95, WA 2)

Honours: Perth Premiership Player 1976, 1977; Perth Fairest and Best 1981; Melbourne Fairest and Best 1983, 1989; Perth Team of the Century; Perth Football Club Hall of Fame; Melbourne Football Club Hall of Fame (2013)

 

A lightly built terrier of a footballer, who would burrow in to packs oblivious to his personal safety, and run like the wind when in clear space, delivering long raking kicks into the forward line, Alan Johnson was a coach’s dream who achieved much individual and team success over a 16-year period in senior football.

Alan Johnson was born in the Woodside Hospital, East Fremantle and grew up in Palmyra, not surprisingly as an East Fremantle supporter. It was as a wiry teenager attending Aquinas College that Perth talent scouts first spotted him, and by that time living in Perth territory, he was tied to that club.

Johnson debuted in WAFL league football as a half forward flanker at the age of 18 in the opening round of 1975, and caught the eye with three goals. With his great pace and skill, Johnson was ideally suited to the wing and was quickly shifted to this position. In 1976 Johnson played every game as Perth won through to the Grand Final and defeated East Perth by 23 points. The following season he only missed one game as an even more dominant Perth finished on top and won the Grand Final by 73 points. Johnson was among Perth’s best players in becoming a dual premiership player at the age of 20.

In the following four seasons, Johnson’s traits of courage, pace and skill remained on show at Perth, and in 1978 he played every game including the Grand Final. He was again in his team’s best players in that game and finished equal third in the Sandover Medal count. He was hampered by injury in 1979 and 1980 but back to his best in 1981, when he won the Butcher Medal as Perth’s fairest and best player.

1981 was to be his swansong in Western Australia as Johnson was nominated by Melbourne in the first incarnation of a VFL interstate draft and joined the Demons for the 1982 season after 140 games for Perth. He was an immediate success as a wingman in the VFL and one of Melbourne’s leading lights, winning the club fairest and best award in 1983 and then again in 1989.

Johnson was a great favourite with Melbourne fans and a highly consistent performer as the club moved up the ladder. Unfortunately he tore his hamstring severely in 1987 and missed the club’s thrilling run to the finals. The following year he was shifted from the wing to a back pocket and became a great rebound defender being outstanding against the Eagles in the 1988 Elimination Final and finishing third in the fairest and best. In 1989, a year in which Melbourne played off in the Grand Final, Johnson won his second fairest and best and was also voted the Most Consistent Player at the club. Persuaded to play into a 16th season he was again in 1990, a pivotal part of a finals campaign before retiring just short of his 34th birthday with 135 Melbourne games to his credit.

In state football, Alan Johnson was a WA regular with six appearances including five State of Origin games. In a 1978 game against Victoria before moving east, he did exceptionally well opposed to Robbie Flower who later became his team mate. Flower later said he “witnessed a player of enormous skill and explosive pace that made him a nightmare to play against”.

Since retirement, Alan Johnson has remained in Melbourne, where he coached in amateur football for a time and saw his son Chris play 46 AFL games for Melbourne and Carlton between 2005 and 2010.

John Northey, senior coach of Melbourne during Johnson’s time there, is particularly praiseworthy of Alan Johnson as both a footballer and a person. “In short Johno was a match winner, a fantastic team man, much loved and respected by his team mates and always given one of the best opposition players. It’s hard to find an all-round champion footballer but Johnson was one”. He is now also a worthy member of the West Australian Football Hall of Fame.