Andrew Johnston
Andrew Johnston
Andrew Johnston
● Andrew Johnston, 1889 (HA)

born in Scotland

Andrew Johnston was born on Thursday, 12th October, 1865, in Hutchesontown, Glasgow.

The forward probably joined Thistle in 1884 or 1885.

Aged 19, he made his first known appearance on Saturday, 31st January, 1885, in a 5-0 friendly win at home to Kilmarnock Athletic.

Andrew scored his first two known goals for Thistle on Saturday, 11th April, 1885, in a 5-0 friendly win at home to Falkirk.

He scored the last of his 80 known goals on Saturday, 25th October, 1890, in a 3-2 friendly win away to Rangers.

He played his last known game for the club on Saturday, 15th November, 1890, in a 4-1 friendly defeat at home to Abercorn, having clocked up at least 183 appearances for the Thistle.

His club-list included Mountaineers, Partick Thistle, Third Lanark and Clyde.

Andrew died on Thursday, 16th March, 1905, in Langside, Glasgow, aged 39.

Bio Extra

The son of James Johnston and Mary Johnston (née Gardner) who were married in 1851 in Greenock. Andrew had an elder brother and sister, John and Jean.

As a young man, Andrew played in the junior grade with the Mountaineers football club who played on Queen's Park. He was clearly artistically minded, and the family have cherished his paintings down throughout the years, four of which survive to this day. See the 'Gallery' tab to view them. Two of these - “Rothesay” and “Puck's Glen waterfall” - were painted in 1884, most likely before he became a player at Thistle. Incidentally, we should add that they weren't titled by Andrew, but thanks to his great grandson, Douglas Fyfe, we're able to call them as we see them. Three of his four paintings are signed by the artist.

Whilst still a teenager, Andrew’s first known appearance for Thistle was at Inchview on 31st January 1885, when he lined up as outside right vs. Kilmarnock Athletic. On his inside was Willie Paul – who was to score his first goal for the club that day – an historic occasion. Playing at centre forward was our eccentric goalie, Andrew Duff, who also got onto the score sheet. There were no goals for our Andrew though, but the Jags ran out winners by 5 goals to 0. The goals weren’t long in coming for the wee man though – there were at least 80 of them over the course of the next 6 years – and he outscored Willie Paul in what was the debut season for both forwards.

Andrew bagged at least 5 hat tricks in his time at Thistle, including a 4 goal haul in the 12-0 Scottish Cup mauling of Alloa Athletic in October 1885. In fact, Andrew’s first full season total of at least 13 goals was enough for him to claim the crown as Top Scorer – not a bad start to his career. We must also bear in mind also that a huge number of goalscorers were simply not recorded in those days. In his profile photo above, our wee Eddie Gallagher look-a-like is proudly showing one of his City caps. His striking prowess was recognised by the Glasgow FA and he represented the club in three matches.

The first of these - the fifth annual meeting of Glasgow vs. London - took place at Hampden Park on 27th November 1886 in front of around 3,500. Playing alongside Andrew that day was his Thistle teammate, John Hendry. A ding-dong battle finished 2-2 in the end. Interestingly, the Glasgow Herald reports that both teams were photographed before the match. We live in hope that one day we might bear witness to the fruits of that endeavour!

The second of his caps was gained on the 25th February 1888 at Ibrox Park. Edinburgh were the visitors to Glasgow and a shot from Andrew, playing alongside his Thistle teammate Willie Paul, had given Glasgow a second half lead. In the end, the team from the capital were fortunate to come away with a 1-1 draw.

His third and final cap (pictured above in our 'Gallery' tab) was earned on the 23rd February 1889 at Powderhall in Edinburgh, the seventh annual meeting of Glasgow vs. Edinburgh. By 4pm, a huge crowd of some 8,000 had packed out the ground. Again, it was Willie Paul & Andrew Johnston represening Thistle within the Glasgow ranks, the former getting on the scoresheet as the Glaswegians retired 3 to the good at half-time. However, in an incredible second-half turnaround, Edinburgh took the final honours by 5 goals to 3! You can read a full account of the match in our 'Scrapbook' tab above.

The season in which he was earning that third cap (1888-89) was one of his most memorable. Andrew was one of the “super seven” who contributed to three victories against Rangers. A 2-0 win at Inchview in October was followed by a 4-2 success at Old Ibrox in February (Andrew scored) rounded off by a thumping 6-2 home win in May. On a personal level, Andrew might have felt some degree of satisfaction when he scored a first half equaliser at Deepdale in April 1889, for the Preston North End had just completed the “double”, were nicknamed “the Invincibles” and were considered the finest club side in Britain at the time. The goal looked to have given Thistle a famous draw until the home side snatched a winner at the death. Still, it was one he could tell his oldest kids about. At the end of this great season, and for the second time, he nudged ahead of the great Willie Paul to claim top spot in the goals chart.

The attraction of the newly formed Scottish Football League cost Thistle a few players in the close season of 1890, one of whom was Andrew, who was tempted away by Third Lanark. He wrote himself into the history books by turning out for Third Lanark in their first-ever League game, a 3-1 loss to would-be joint-champions Dumbarton. 6,000 bore witness to the occasion - a surefire sign of the healthy appetite for competitive football. Andrew appeared in almost all League games that term, and also played in the Scottish Cup semi final against Hearts, although Third Lanark went down by 4 goals to 1 in the end. The following season, Andrew switched to Clyde, also a first class League outfit, where he played alongside former Thistle goalie, John McCorkindale, who had been a teammate at Inchview in the late 1880s and early in 1890.

Andrew was always welcome back at Inchview though. During his Third Lanark season, he guested for Thistle in two proper friendlies (including a fine 3-2 win over Rangers) as well as turning out for the "Partick Thistle Past" team in an end-of-season charity match for the Whiteinch Orphanage fund.

Away from the football, Andrew was a journeyman gas fitter to trade, the "journeyman" signifying that he was qualified to undertake a wide range of tasks in his field. He married Sarah Nelson Miller on the 22nd April, 1892. Married life and work seems to have taken all of his energy from thereon, and he called time early on his footballing career, at least at any significant level. In their Cumberland Street home, just south of the river, Andrew and Sarah had four children together; James was born in 1895, John in 1896, Andrew in 1899 and, finally, they were blessed with a wee girl, Sarah, who arrived in late 1902 or early 1903.

Alas, Andrew's life came to a tragic end in the springtime of 1905 when he contracted appendicitis. He became so ill that he was admitted to the Victoria infirmary, where he passed away within a few days. We can only imagine at the devastation this would have caused to his wife and the bairns. In the aftermath of the tragedy, Clyde and Partick Thistle came together to raise funds for Andrew's widow and very young family. The match was played on Thursday, 11th May, 1905, several weeks on from Andrew's passing. 1,000 turned out at Shawfield, the match itself finishing goalless.

The family were obviously proud of him, having looked after his paintings and cap for well over 100 years. We can imagine that tales were told of the Dad, Uncle, Grandad and Great Grandad who had once been a famous Glasgow footballer. We speculate, but it's possible that each of the three boys inherited their father's caps, one each. For sure, the second-born, John, took possession of his father's Glasgow cap of 1889 vintage. Brilliantly, John lived in Thistle Street; this cap is charmed! Sadly, John died of cancer in 1959 and his wife looked after it until she herself passed away in 1983. It then passed to Andrew's great grandson, Douglas Fyfe, who has ensured its survival ever since. Hopefully, whoever gets it next will take as much care of it as those in the last 133 years have done! It's the best way to honour the late great Andrew Johnston.

(WS/JK)



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