Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Their Wullie

"But the final years of his career were dogged by controversy. His most shameful act came during his stint at Ibrox, when he stamped on John McMaster's head; the Aberdeen player needed the kiss of life as a result. "I'm not proud of that," he says today. "It's no excuse but I thought he was Willie Miller. Miller was a great player but he was a hard man and deserved some of his own treatment back. Unfortunately I got the wrong player."

Skip past the opening paragraph - which is absolute bollocks - for an entertaining article about R*ngers' Willie Johnston, half wing-wizard/half thuggish wind-up merchant, from yesterday's Guardian Football Blog.

It pains to me to write it but people forget what a good team R*ngers had in the late sixties, early seventies. It just happened to be their misfortune to come up at that time against a better team . . . better club . . . better fans . . . better set of human beings . . . you get the partisan drift.

PS - Be sure to check out the comments to the article as well for other 'wee incidents' from Johnston's career. It turns out that decades on from his retirement, he's still a footballer and human being that splits opinion. This comment about his time playing football in Canada caught me eye:

I had the pleasure of watching Willie in Vancouver. They were an exciting squad to watch.

In one game at old Empire Stadium, Johnston was bedeviling the visitors (I forget which side) and the Caps were winning handily. His marker, tired of being skinned, had resorted to all manner of tactics in a vain attempt to contain the winger. Finally, deep in the second half, he grabbed Johnston's sleeve and pulled quite briskly two or three times, without a whistle or any sign from the ref he was going to control the player. Finally, exasperated, Johnston spun around, grabbed the defender by both shoulders and planted a knee in his groin.

The ref saw that.

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