Albert Johnston (rugby league)
|Full name||Albert Victor Johnston|
10 May 1891|
Balmain, New South Wales
|Died||15 May 1961
Carlton, New South Wales
Albert "Ricketty" Johnston (1891–1961) was a pioneering Australian rugby league footballer and coach of the 1910s, 1920s and 1930s. He was a three-quarter for the Australian national team and played in eight Tests between 1919 and 1922, two as captain.
He was born and grew up in Balmain, Sydney and started playing rugby league at a junior level when the game commenced in Australia in 1908. In 1911 he made his first grade debut with the Balmain Tigers at half-back. Following Arthur Halloway's move to the Tigers in 1915, Johnston moved to five-eighth and their strong halves partnership was one of factors enabling Balmain to three consecutive premiership titles from 1915 to 1917.
Following his Australian representative appearances in 1920 the admission of the St George Dragons meant that Johnston being a local resident had to play with the club, which he did for his final two club seasons of 1921 and 1922.
In 1912 he was selected in a Sydney Metropolis side. In 1913 he was in a New South Wales touring squad to New Zealand as half-back but was kept out of the major matches by the form of his peer Arthur Halloway.
He captained New South Wales in some 1918 games and then made his Australian Test debut in 1919 on Australia's tour of New Zealand. He scored a try on debut assisting Australia to a 44-21 victory. With tour captain Halloway unfit for the 3rd Test Johnston led the side to a series victory in Auckland in the process becoming Australia's 11th Kangaroo captain.
In 1920 Johnston was chosen for the first Test of the domestic Ashes series. He captained the side to an 8-4 victory over England. Herb Gilbert took over as captain for the 2nd and 3rd Tests but Johnston's continued successful halves pairing with Queenslander Duncan Thompson set a platform for the talented backline featuring Harold Horder, Dick Vest and Gilbert and Australia won the series and the Ashes for the first time on home soil.
Johnston did not captain Australia again. He appeared for New South Wales through till 1922 and toured with the 1921-22 Kangaroos playing in the 1st Test and in 11 tour matches.
He coached St George in 1933-35 taking the club to their first premiership final.
Sources & Footnotes
- Whiticker, Alan (2004) Captaining the Kangaroos, New Holland, Sydney
|Australian national rugby league captain