Notts County and Newcastle United both share a black and white playing strip and a nickname of the Magpies. In the current era, it’s there that the similarities end.
But for Geordie-born teenager Tommy Johnson there was only one choice to be made. And he duly turned Newcastle down, packed his bags from his Gateshead home, and moved south down the A1 to Nottingham.
Three years later he had fired Notts to two successive promotions into the top flight of English football and he had been capped seven times by England at under 21 level.
“Undoubtedly the best decision I ever made. My dad was a Newcastle fanatic and took me to games when Kevin Keegan was in the team.
“But when I first came to Notts for a trial as a young kid I couldn’t believe it when the Notts first team manager Jimmy Sirrel took us for a training session on a Sunday morning.
“My mind was made up that I was going to join Notts from that day onwards. A Newcastle United official came around my house one day trying to sign me – I ran out of the house and down the road, and didn’t come back until he had gone. I was joining Notts and no-one else.”
Johnson was a key player in the Neil Warnock era in the late 80s and early 90s and bagged 57 goals in 149 appearances.
He went on to have a successful playing career at the highest level with Derby County, Aston Villa and Celtic.
But he was to return to Notts as a coach under Ian McParland, Hans Backe, Steve Cotterill and Craig Short. He continues to live in the region and now works for both Blackpool and the Northern Ireland National team.
In our two part-interview Paul Mace discusses the superb career of Tommy Johnson, a true Notts County legend and one of the best players ever to wear the black and white stripes at Meadow Lane. Remember you can watch all our podcast videos with the Magpie Circle by clicking here and searching through our archives.
Thursday 14th January 2021
- Tommy Johnson – The Geordie Who Never Went Home (The Magpie Circle) part 1
Friday 15th January 2021
- Tommy Johnson – The Geordie Who Never Went Home (The Magpie Circle) part 2
*Main image @PON_NCC Tommy Johnson in the famous black and white of Notts County.