DOB: 17 July 1980
From: Chelsea/Dandenong Stingrays U18, Selection #1, 1997 National Draft
Number: 16 1998-2007
Games: 160 (209 total)
Goals: 111 (135 total)
The grandson of former Fitzroy player Norm Johnstone was a popular pick at number one in the 1997 Draft after having been an Under 16 and Under 18 All-Australian. After playing an excellent debut season in an improving side his form dropped off in 1999 along with most of his teammates. That year he spent time in the seconds.
Johnstone struggled through the 2000 season with groin issues, and was used as a burst player off the bench during the year. He injured a hamstring early in the season and missed eight weeks, but returned to play a role in the finals series. At the end of that season Johnstone signed a two year contract extension but surgery on his groin meant that he missed the first two months of the 2001 pre-season. His early years had shown promise, but too often he'd been the victim of injury and complacency. He admitted that year that he had found it hard to come to terms with his new found stardom.
The victim of much criticism as an 'underachieving' number one pick, 2002 was a breakout year where after putting together the first full pre-season of his career Johnstone finished fourth in the Brownlow Medal. His performance in the finals loss to Adelaide was the best of his career to that point.
In July 2003 it was revealed that Johnstone owed $15,000 to a bookmaker, and his '03 season was a disappointment after he had built credibility as one of the AFL's best midfielders the year before. More than once that year he was exiled to Sandringham to play with the seconds and he battled both and hamstring injuries.
Johnstone later revealed that he had been close to walking out on the club after the 2004 season. He admitted having almost gone to Sydney but ended up taking a 20% pay cut and staying with the Demons on a two year contract. Despite the drop in pay and a pair of disappointing seasons behind him 2005, became one Johnstone's best years. He recaptured the form that had made him one of the best in the country just three years before and won the club's Best and Fairest award.
At the end of the 2007 season, Johnstone was traded to the Brisbane Lions in exchange for selection 14 in the 2007 National Draft, which Melbourne used to recruit Jack Grimes. Reminscent of the Shane Woewodin trade the club was deluged with angry calls from supporters after the deal went through, but as with Woewodin's stint with the Pies he never hit the same heights and was delisted at the end of 2010 after 49 games with the Lions.
After his delisting Johnstone played in the Northern Territory for the Palmerston Magpies, and in 2012 for Chelsea Heights.
|Round 21, 1999||Melee||$2000 fine|
|Round 21, 2000||Melee||$2500 fine|
|Round 2, 2004||Abusive Language||$1200 fine|
|Round 8, 2005||Melee||$1500 fine|
|Round 6, 2007||Abusive language||$900 fine|