Bobby Johnstone – Better than Carter, Doherty, Finney, Steele or Matthews?

On this day (22 September) in 1959 Manchester City’s Cup final hero Bobby Johnstone returned to his former club Hibernian after 50 goals in 137 first team appearances for the Blues. Here are a few details on him and a quote saying he was better than Stanley Matthews, Tom Finney & others. Enjoy…

At the start of that season there had been indications that 29 year old Johnstone was nearing the end of his Maine Road career.  He had made only 18 League appearances and scored four goals during the 1958-9 season and, although he was vital in a number of games, City were beginning to look to a future without him.  Les McDowall had already started looking at a nineteen year old striker playing for Huddersfield.  He appeared to offer a great deal, the only problem was the price.  City would have to pay a considerable amount to sign the young, exciting forward.  His name?  Denis Law. It would take McDowall some time to sign the youngster, but as the close season began he considered City’s strengths and weaknesses. City was in a period of transition.  Old campaigners like Johnstone were on their way out.  Indeed he left for a fee of £7,000 on this day in 1959.

Later Roy Warhurst, the City half-back signed from Birmingham during the 1957 close season, described the Scotsman as the greatest player he ever saw: ‘Johnstone was the greatest footballer I ever played with or against. I was 29 when I came to City and I’d seen all Britain’s best. But there was nobody to compare with Bobby, when he felt like turning it on. Not even Carter, Doherty, Finney, Billy Steele or Matthews. They couldn’t touch him.

‘My first game for City was a tour game in Holland. Bobby was brilliant. As the locals cheered him off the park I kept thinking “this is some great outfit I’ve joined.”  It was the greatest display I’ve seen from any player that night.’

It is widely known about Bobby’s goals in the 1955 & 1956 FA Cup finals but here’s a couple in a thrilling game v Newcastle in 1957. City lost 5-4 but it’s well worth watching for the drama of it all. Look out for the crowd scenes, especially the exaggerated acting by a lad after about 1min 25 seconds who spills his drink!

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