Willie Johnston

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Willie Johnston
Willie Johnston (1969).jpg
Personal information
Full name William McClure Johnston[1]
Date of birth (1946-12-19) 19 December 1946 (age 70)
Place of birth Maryhill, Glasgow, Scotland
Height 1.70 m (5 ft 7 in)[2]
Playing position Outside left
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1964–1972 Rangers 211 (89)
1972 Hakoah Sydney ? (?)
1972–1979 West Bromwich Albion 207 (18)
1979–1980 Vancouver Whitecaps 41 (3)
1979–1980 Birmingham City (loan) 15 (0)
1980 Rangers 35 (2)
1982 Vancouver Whitecaps 18 (0)
1982–1984 Heart of Midlothian 55 (9)
1983 South China AA (loan)
1984–1985 East Fife 3 (0)
National team
1965–1978 Scotland 21 (0)
1969–1970 Scottish League XI[3] 2 (1)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

William McClure Johnston (born 19 December 1946) is a Scottish former professional football player, best remembered for his time at Rangers and West Bromwich Albion. He made 21 international appearances for Scotland and was selected for their 1978 FIFA World Cup squad, but was sent home from the tournament after failing a drugs test.


He scored twice in the final as Rangers won the European Cup-Winners' Cup in 1972 by defeating Dynamo Moscow 3–2 in Barcelona. In December 1972 he moved to England to join West Bromwich Albion, making his debut against Liverpool in the same month.[4] Albion paid a club record £138,000 to bring him to The Hawthorns.[5]

However, his career included some controversial incidents. After Scotland's opening game of the 1978 World Cup, against Peru, Johnston tested positive for a banned stimulant contained in Reactivan, a medication prescribed for his hay-fever. His subsequent expulsion from the squad ended his international career after 21 appearances, although he maintained his innocence.[6][7]

While playing for the Vancouver Whitecaps, he once mooned the Seattle Sounders bench following a goal,[8] and on another occasion took a swig from a fan's beer before taking a corner kick in San Jose, setting up a goal from the set-piece.[9][10] Johnston was a key member of the 1979 NASL champion Vancouver Whitecaps, helping them defeat the New York Cosmos in the semi-final, and then the Tampa Bay Rowdies 2–1 in Soccer Bowl '79.

Aberdeen player John McMaster had to be given the kiss of life during a game against Rangers at Ibrox in 1980 after Johnston stamped on his throat.[11][10]

In 2004 Johnston was named as one of West Bromwich Albion's 16 greatest players, in a poll organised as part of the club's 125th anniversary celebrations.[12]

Personal life[edit]

Johnston was brought up in Cardenden, working as a miner after leaving school.[13][14]

He now lives in Kirkcaldy. The Port Brae Bar pub there was run by his son Dean until a dispute with the Belhaven Brewery led to the pub being boarded up, locking Johnston's collection of memorabilia inside.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Willie Johnston". Barry Hugman's Footballers. Retrieved 10 April 2017. 
  2. ^ "Willie Johnston". Worldfootball.net. 19 December 1946. Retrieved 2012-12-13. 
  3. ^ "Willie Johnston - Scotland Football League Record from 05 Sep 1969 to 18 Mar 1970 clubs - Rangers". Londonhearts.com. Retrieved 2012-12-13. 
  4. ^ Matthews, Tony (2005). The Who's Who of West Bromwich Albion. Breedon Books. p. 126. ISBN 1-85983-474-4. 
  5. ^ Matthews, Tony; Mackenzie, Colin (1987). Albion! A Complete Record of West Bromwich Albion 1879–1987. Breedon Books. p. 294. ISBN 0-907969-23-2. 
  6. ^ Spiers, Graham (29 March 2003). "A bitter pill to swallow Willie Johnston reflects on a career ultimately blighted by that bizarre incident in Argentina". The Herald. Glasgow. Retrieved 2 October 2012. 
  7. ^ Schofield, Kevin (30 December 2008). "Revealed: Argentinians wanted to jail shamed Scotland star Willie Johnston". Daily Record. Glasgow. Retrieved 2 October 2012. 
  8. ^ Timko, Brandon (9 June 2011). "A memorable moment in the Whitecaps FC-Sounders FC rivalry". MLSsoccer.com. Retrieved 2 October 2012. 
  9. ^ Sapienza, Joseph (8 September 2012). "This day in Whitecaps FC history". WhitecapsFC.com. Retrieved 2 October 2012. 
  10. ^ a b Murray, Scott (23 December 2008). "The forgotten story of ... Willie Johnston". Guardian. Retrieved 2012-12-13. 
  11. ^ Irvine, Neil (20 January 2002). "No more late hate shows". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 28 June 2016. 
  12. ^ "The wraps come off 125th anniversary mural". West Bromwich Albion F.C. 4 August 2004. Retrieved 2008-05-10. 
  13. ^ "Interview: Willie Johnston, ex-Scotland winger". scotsman.com. 
  14. ^ "To Barcelona and Beyond". google.co.uk. 
  15. ^ "Bud’s plea: Give me back my memorabilia". Fife Free Press. 10 March 2011. Retrieved 6 April 2011. 

External links[edit]