Bobby Johnstone
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Bobby Johnstone

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
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1946 Selkirk
1946-1955 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 Selkirk, 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. He joined Manchester City in 1955 becoming the first player to score in successive FA Cup Finals at Wembley, in 1955 and 1956.[2] After a short return to Hibs he also played for Oldham Athletic.

He won 17 caps for Scotland.

Early life

Born on the 7th September 1929 at 11 Cannon Street, Selkirk, to Elizabeth and George 'Hopey' Johnstone. Bobby was born into a footballing family in a rugby playing town. His father Hopey was described as a "hard as teak" centre-half and once declined a trial for Glasgow Rangers, preferring instead to sign for professional Border side, Peebles Rovers. Hopey who stood over six foot tall, won Border Cup medals for Selkirk in 1931 and 1932. Bobby's great uncle 'Geordie 'was in the team that won Selkirk's first ever trophy, the 1895 Border Cup. At the age of four Johnstone contracted diphtheria which required a tracheotomy in order to stabilize his condition and was confined to his bed for around two months. Johnstone went to school at Philiphaugh until the age of 11, then Knowepark in Selkirk where he won a prize in English. The Johnstone family moved to the nearby newly built no. 2 Linglie Road in 1943 and shortly after at the age of 14, Bobby became an apprentice painter with local firm Nichol's. It was around this time that he started to draw attention playing in the then popular five-a-side tournaments against players almost twice his age.[3]



With Selkirk's pre-World War II side depleted due to retirement and those like Sandy Adamson who made the Supreme Sacrifice, the club turned to the town's youth to restart football in peace time. Making a name for himself with local Parkvale Rovers and Army Cadet football was a young Bobby Johnstone. In October 1946, in front of a 1,500 crowd, a Selkirk team including Johnstone defeated Queen of the South which featured future Scottish Internationalist Billy Houliston on the Toll Field. Johnstone also featured in the side which lost out to professional Gala Fairydean in the East of Scotland Cup Final. Later in 1946, both Bobby Johnstone and Eck Piercy were signed for Hibernian, with the promise of a friendly game at Ettrick Park being the transfer fee. The deal was honoured in October 1947 in front of 2,000 spectators with Johnstone being given permission to play for Selkirk one last time.[4]


Bobby Johnstone, known to his mates as 'Nicker', signed for Hibs in 1946 from Selkirk 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 with Combe moved to half back. Therefore, the Famous Five made their collective competitive debut on 15 October 1949 against Queen of the South, with Hibs winning 2-0.[5]

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.

Johnstone was the first of Hibs' famous five to leave Hibs when he transferred in March 1955.

Manchester City

He joined Manchester City for the hefty sum of £22,000.[6] 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

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

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 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."

In the summer of 1965, some 19 years after his senior career had started, Johnstone retired from playing professional football.


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.[7] He also played for a Great Britain team against a "Rest of Europe" side in August 1955, a match played to commemorate the 75th year of the Irish Football Association.[8]

Personal life

He was survived by his daughter Nicola and granddaughter Caroline.


International goals

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


Manchester City


  1. ^ "Bobby Johnstone". Barry Hugman's Footballers. Retrieved 2017.
  2. ^ "'Famous Five' player tribute bid". BBC News. BBC. 16 September 2009.
  3. ^ Bobby Johnstone. The Passing of an Age by John Leigh ISBN 978-1-908234-28-5
  4. ^ A century of Soccer in Selkirk 1880-1980, by Graham Bateman
  5. ^ "Club History" on the official Queen of the South website Archived 13 September 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Bobby Johnstone Obituary, The Guardian 6 September 2001
  7. ^ "Scotland FL Players by Appearances". London Hearts Supporters' Club. Retrieved 2011.
  8. ^ Andrews, Neil (January 2011). "Great Britain v Europe". When Saturday Comes. Retrieved 2017.
  9. ^ Strachan, Colleen (15 November 2010). "Caldo hails Hibs spirit after fightback". Edinburgh Evening News. Retrieved 2010.

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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