HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE
Percy John JOHNSON
|Date of Birth||28th January 1933|
Games 241 (East Fremantle 180, Swan Districts 21, Claremont 27, WA 13)
Goals 285 (East Fremantle 217 Swan Districts 19, Claremont 45, Western Australia 4)
Coach Swan Districts 1959 South Fremantle 1977 West Perth 1978-1979
Honours: East Fremantle premiership 1957 Grand Finals 1954, 1955, 1958, 1962
Claremont leading goalkicker 1960
As a superbly athletic and agile ruckman in over 200 senior games, an excellent teacher and developer of young talent as a coach, and an erudite and incisive media commentator, few people have made as significant a contribution to WAFL football as Percy Johnson.
Born and raised in the goldfields but never a footballer there, Percy learnt the game under the expert tutelage of Jerry Dolan at Aquinas College. As a topline fast bowler, outstanding track and field athlete and captain of the school tennis team Johnson was a superb all round athlete but he excelled as a footballer, initially as a forward but for one season as an outstanding centre half back.
After joining East Fremantle in 1951, Johnson was recast as a ruckman due to an abundance of quality defenders at the club. Under the expert tutelage of coach Jim Conway, Johnson shone brilliantly in patches in his first season but tertiary study and travel commitments mitigated against consistency for his first few seasons. After a state debut against Victoria in 1955, Johnson became a regular state ruckman, participating in the Australian Carnival series in 1956 and 1958, notwithstanding the presence of both Polly Farmer and Jack Clarke. He attained premiership honours with “Old Easts” in 1957 playing a superb game in the Grand Final and would have been a deserving Simpson Medallist. In all Johnson played in 14 final round games in his 12 WAFL seasons.
In 1959 Percy Johnson began a new career phase when he was appointed Captain Coach of Swan Districts. A number of young stars emerged under his tutelage including Fred Castledine who recently told Ron Head of the Footygoss web site “Percy was a great coach. He saw things in me, and taught me about football. I credit Perce with laying the foundation for my career. When Percy fell foul of the committee late in the season and was replaced by Charlie Doig, it was disappointing.” When sacked after 16 games by the Swans committee when he stood firm on a principle, Percy received widespread support from the players and members and played out the season under Brian Gray. The following year he played at Claremont under Ray Richards but quit during the austere Peter Pianto reign in 1961. He enjoyed one last season as a player at East Fremantle in 1962 and his final game was the losing grand final against Swans. Johnson achieved a little known but extraordinary record of being runner up for the fairest and best award at three different clubs in these final seasons.
In subsequent years, Percy Johnson became a very well known and respected television critic with a long running position on the Channel 7 World of Football show and had his own slot 3 days a week with “Percys Point of View”. He was also involved in junior coaching and in 1977 somewhat out of the blue, he was appointed senior coach at South Fremantle and again played a significant role in the development of young stars. The following year he accepted a 2 year position as senior coach at West Perth but his forthright approach and a philosophy difference with the board over interstate recruiting resulted in the termination of his contract during his second season.
Today Percy Johnson continues to relish involvement in the WAFL as a mentor and developer of young men as ruck coach at Swan Districts Football Club. His induction into the WA Football Hall of Fame recognises a superb overall contribution to Football in Western Australia.