Bobby Johnstone

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Bobby Johnstone
Personal information
Full name Robert Johnstone[1]
Date of birth (1929-09-07)7 September 1929
Place of birth Selkirk, Scotland
Date of death 22 August 2001(2001-08-22) (aged 71)
Place of death Selkirk, Scotland
Playing position Inside forward
Youth career
1945–1946 Newtongrange Star
1946–1949 Hibernian
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1949–1955 Hibernian 168 (88)
1955–1959 Manchester City 124 (42)
1959–1961 Hibernian 31 (17)
1961–1965 Oldham Athletic 143 (36)
1965 Witton Albion 0 (0)
Total 466 (183)
National team
1951–1956 Scotland 17 (10)
1951–1954 Scottish League XI 6 (1)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

Robert Johnstone (7 September 1929 – 22 August 2001) was a Scottish footballer, who played for Hibernian, Manchester City, Oldham Athletic and Witton Albion. Johnstone also represented Scotland and the Scottish League.

Johnstone is most remembered as one of the Famous Five forward line (Smith, Johnstone, Reilly, Turnbull and Ormond) for Hibernian in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Johnstone was the first of the five to leave Hibs, when he was sold to Manchester City in 1955. He also enjoyed success with the English club, becoming the first player to score in successive FA Cup Finals at Wembley, in 1955 and 1956.[2] Johnstone, who is also fondly remembered by supporters of Oldham Athletic, won 17 caps for Scotland.



Bobby Johnstone, known to his mates as 'Nicker', signed for Hibs in 1946 from Newtongrange Star and had two spells with them. Having signed for Hibs, Johnstone received rave reviews while playing for the reserves and was given his first chance in the first team in April 1949, when they played a friendly against Nithsdale Wanderers at Sanquhar. Hibs' Famous Five forward line were given there collective debut in that game.

However, at the start of the 1949–50 season in August it was Bobby Combe in possession of the jersey. His big chance came in October after Hibs half backs got the blame for losing to Dunfermline in the League Cup semi final at Tynecastle. The entire half back line were dropped and Johnstone was given his chance. Therefore, the Famous Five made their collective competitive debut on 15 October 1949 against Queen of the South, with Hibs winning 2–0.[3]

Johnstone picked up Scottish League winners medals in 1951 and 1952. He also played in a Scottish League Cup final and ended league runners-up in the seasons bookending the double league win.

Manchester City[edit]

He left in March 1955 to join Manchester City for the hefty sum of £22,000.[4] Johnstone was the only one of the Famous Five to play in England. He scored in back-to-back FA Cup Finals for Manchester City, losing in 1955 to Newcastle United and winning in 1956 against Birmingham City. Johnstone was the first player to score in consecutive FA Cup Finals at Wembley. He played alongside future Hibs manager Dave Ewing in both finals.

Return to Hibs[edit]

Johnstone returned to Hibs in 1959 for £6,000. Johnstone is remembered most for his first spell with Hibs, yet he inspired them to a couple of incredible wins on his return, even though he had put on a few pounds and was a little less mobile. However, the brain had not slowed down any and his prompting enabled the team to score 10 goals at Firhill against Partick Thistle and another 11 at Broomfield against Airdrie.

Oldham Athletic[edit]

After his second spell with Hibs he went south again to join Oldham Athletic and is widely regarded as one of their greatest ever players.

Bernard Halford was assistant secretary in those magical days of the early 1960s and 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."

Not until the summer of 1965, some 19 years after his senior career had started, did Johnstone finally retire. He may have been the unsung hero of the Famous Five, but he left the stage having gathered honours by the handful.


Of his thirteen international caps, probably the most memorable was scoring on his debut against England at Wembley in a 3–2 win in which Lawrie Reilly also scored. From Scotland's 22-man 1954 World Cup squad, Scotland decided to take only 13 of the 22 to the finals. Johnstone was in the 13 but withdrew through injury. Staying at home on reserve were the likes of Bobby Combe and Jimmy Binning. George Hamilton was also on reserve but travelled after Johnstone's withdrawal.

Johnstone also collected international goals against Northern Ireland, Wales, Sweden and Finland. As well as winning 17 international caps for Scotland, Johnstone also represented the Scottish League on 6 occasions.[5] He also played for Great Britain against a "Rest of Europe" side.

International goals[edit]

Scores and results list Scotland's goal tally first.
# Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1 14 April 1951 Wembley Stadium, London  England 1–1 3–2 Home International
2 6 October 1951 Windsor Park, Belfast  Northern Ireland 2–0 3–0 Home International
3 6 October 1951 Windsor Park, Belfast  Northern Ireland 3–0 3–0 Home International
4 6 May 1953 Hampden Park, Glasgow  Sweden 1–1 1–2 Friendly
5 4 November 1953 Hampden Park, Glasgow  Wales 2–0 3–3 Home International and 1954 World Cup Qualifier
6 25 May 1954 Olympiastadion, Helsinki  Finland 2–0 2–1 Friendly
7 3 November 1954 Hampden Park, Glasgow  Northern Ireland 2–2 2–2 Home International
8 8 December 1954 Hampden Park, Glasgow  Hungary 2–3 2–4 Friendly
9 9 November 1955 Hampden Park, Glasgow  Wales 1–0 2–0 Home International
10 9 November 1955 Hampden Park, Glasgow  Wales 2–0 2–0 Home International


He was survived by his daughter Nicola and granddaughter Caroline.


Manchester City


  1. ^ "Bobby Johnstone". Barry Hugman's Footballers. Retrieved 30 March 2017. 
  2. ^ "'Famous Five' player tribute bid". BBC News. BBC. 16 September 2009. 
  3. ^ "Club History" on the official Queen of the South website Archived 13 September 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ Bobby Johnstone Obituary, The Guardian 6 September 2001
  5. ^ "Scotland FL Players by Appearances". London Hearts Supporters' Club. Retrieved 27 November 2011. 
  6. ^ Strachan, Colleen (15 November 2010). "Caldo hails Hibs spirit after fightback". Edinburgh Evening News. Retrieved 15 November 2010. 

External links[edit]