DOB: 27 June 1902
Died: 26 January 1981
From: Quambatook/St. Pat's Ballarat/St Kevin's/Northcote
Statistical categories led:
Most goals in jumper 16
The father of Robert B Johnson was one of the great high fliers of his generation. He left school wanting to be a tennis player but was eventually persuaded to join Northcote where he held his own in the ruck, backline and forward line. He won the Recorder Cup for best and fairest in the competition in 1925, and trained with Geelong during the season.
Convinced by Melbourne recruiters to try out for the 1926 side, Johnson was a huge success. Kicking six goals in his third game, Johnson booted five the next week at Victoria Park. He was selected for Victoria - but forced to drop out through injury. In his first season he finished second in the club goalkicking with 50 majors - Harold Moyes and Harry Davie had also kicked more than 50 and it was the first time in league history that a side had seen three of its players achieve the feat. He was picked to play for Victoria that year but couldn't make the trip to South Australia and Western Australia.
Some suspected he wasn't the same player in the wet, but a dominant Best on Ground in the 1926 Premiership triumph put that to rest. He booted 6.7 and humbled Magpie champion Albert Collier.
Nine goals against Richmond in Round 1, 1927 seemed to set Johnson up for a massive season, but he only played nine games. Illness hurt him early in the season, then in Round 8 he injured his leg and was out until Round 14. He was back to his best with 55 goals in 1928 and played state football for the first time. He was reluctant to continue in 1929, but was talked into playing and continued his career for five seasons.
The 1929 and 1930 seasons saw Johnson moved away from the forward line and spend more time in the ruck. His goalkicking suffered accordingly. He returned to the forward line with 44 goals in 1931, before he was restricted to just seven games in 1932. At the end of the year he advised the club he wanted to retire, but was persuaded to stay on.
In his last year Johnson went back up front and was once again the dominant goalkicker of old. He started the year slowly, with five goals in the first four games, before booting six against Carlton in round 6, and five against Collingwood in round 7. In a round 11 clash with Hawthorn at the MCG, the 31-year-old booted a career high 12 goals.
Johnson retired in March 1934. He had been approached to become playing coach of several clubs but turned them down and retired from the game.
Herald - 19/02/1926
Argus - 12/07/1926
Herald - 22/06/1927
Football Record R18 1928
Sporting Globe - 09/03/1929
Football Record VFA vs VFL 1931
Herald - 20/12/1932
Argus - 14/03/1934 Sporting Globe - 10/07/1954