Brian Ronald JOHNSON


Guernsey Number: 21, 26
Career: 1959 to 1960
NFC Games: 25
NFC Goals: 43
Debut: v South Adelaide (Norwood) 25th July 1959
Finale: v North Adelaide (Adelaide) 1st October 1960


Naracoorte farmer Brian Ronald (Spazza) Johnson gave Norwood two years of solid service as a player - and then played a key role in the recruitment of his second cousin Phil Carman to the club.

Brian was a ruckman with good marking and kicking skills. He played mainly out of the forward pocket and averaged nearly two goals a game. He became a regular member of the league team despite training at Norwood only on Thursday nights after driving 340 km to Adelaide.

In his third game he kicked four goals on tough Port Adelaide big man Ted Whelan. Brian at 80 said: "I can clearly remember after a couple of marks and goals, next time a nice big backhander with him looking over me, umpire Lawrie Sweeney pushing back saying 'Steady up Ted'. Proceeded to bag another.” 

Born on 20 January 1937, Brian played 25 league games after breaking into the team in the latter half of 1959. He enjoyed his football under coach Alan Killigrew and made the state squad in 1960 but was called home by his father the following year to work fulltime on the family farm.
He was a member of three Kybybolite premiership teams in the Kowree Naracoorte Football League and later played with Naracoorte from 1968 to 1970, the first two years as captain-coach. In one game for Naracoorte he kicked 19.5, a club record. He won the Kowree Naracoorte  goalkicking three times, with 88 in the first year and a high of 105, and then was runner-up three times.

Brian's son Peter played 13 league games for Norwood in 1985 and 1986.

Brian alerted Norwood to the talent of a young relative across the border, in Edenhope, and that was an important first step in bringing Phil Carman  to Norwood in 1970. Executive Manager Ron Kitchen cemented the deal with help from Bob Truelove and Wally Miller. 

Johnson and Carman - 18 years apart - were both students at King's College, with Johnson leaving in 1951 and Carman in 1969. Also observing Carman was Bob Oatey, who was a staff member at King's when appointed Norwood captain-coach in 1968 and who did not leave the school until December 1971 when he became Norwood and the SANFL's first full-time coaching director. Phil's mother Annie Carman - Brian's cousin - became house mother at Carmel Court, the share home Norwood established for country recruits

Brian was 81 when he died at his Naracoorte residence on 14 September 2018, survived by his widow Barbara, three children and eight grandchildren.

P Robins May 2017

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