Bobby Johnstone
Bobby Johnstone
Bobby Johnstone
● Bobby Johnstone, 1935 (HA)

born in Scotland

Robert Johnstone was born on Monday, 6th November, 1911, in Wishaw, North Lanarkshire.

The goalkeeper signed for Donald Turner's Thistle on Monday, 26th June, 1933, having most recently been with Wishaw.

Aged 21, he made his debut appearance on Tuesday, 29th August, 1933, in a 3-2 defeat away to Clyde in the Glasgow Cup.

Bobby kept his first clean-sheet on Saturday, 11th November, 1933, in a 1-0 win at home to Airdrieonians in the SFL First Division.

He registered the last of his 40 clean-sheets on Saturday, 29th April, 1939, in a 2-0 win at home to Falkirk in the SFL First Division.

He played his last game for the club on Saturday, 2nd December, 1939, in a 7-0 defeat away to Ayr United in the Regional League, Western Division, having clocked up an impressive 249 appearances as a Jag.

His club-list included Carfin Harp, Blantyre Celtic, Wishaw, Partick Thistle, Motherwell, St Mirren, Albion Rovers and Burnbank Athletic.

Bobby died on Monday, 16th December, 1963, in Motherwell, North Lanarkshire, aged 52.

Bio Extra

Bobby Johnstone, the ultimate Partick Thistle penalty-prevention king, was brought to the Jags from the junior leagues in June 1933, a week after our legendary internationalist goalie, Johnny Jackson, was lured to Chelsea. Bobby immediately took over Johnny's place in the first team, going on to make around 250 appearances for the club during the decade. Bobby claimed a number of medals as a Jag, including golds in the double-winning season of 1934-35 when both the Glasgow Cup and Glasgow Charity Cup were bedecked in the red and yellow ribbons of the PTFC. This was also a big season in more personal ways as, in January 1935, the 23-year-old Bobby married a Burnbank lass, Christina Wyper, in a low-key ceremony - at Glasgow Sheriff Court!

From October '37 to February 1938, Bobby Johnstone's feat of saving 5 consecutive penalties is quite possibly the most sensational of all our penalty goalie heroics, certainly in terms of first class action. Saving Alex Ventners last-minute penalty on 3rd January 1938, sealed a great 3-1 League win over Rangers. Johnstone was described as β€œfirst class” in the first half at a foggy Ibrox where β€œthe players flitted about in an atmosphere of gloom. Occasionally only the thump, thump as the ball was kicked made its presence certain.” It was Thistle's first win there in 22 years, and was the second penalty of Bobby's aforementioned record-run.

In many ways, Bobby's rather mad penalty story is typical of β€œthe great unpredictables” legend that is Partick Thistle FC. He physically saved just one of the first 15 penalties that he faced, but what happened next was surely one of the most extraordinary runs of any goalkeeper, anytime, anywhere in the world. From Nov '36 to Apr '38, a massive 14 of the 16 penalties against him resulted in no goals against. Two goalkeeping records were set during this period; 7-in-a-row penalties without concession and 5-in-a-row physical penalty saves. In the final tally-up, his 53.7% prevention ratio is truly remarkable, miles ahead of the club's historic ratio of around 29%.

Despite these heroics, Bobby's position began to come under threat from the young Bobby Henderson before regular football was suspended in 1939. During the war he moved to hometown club Motherwell, and also had guest spells with St Mirren and Albion Rovers. It was thought that Bobby had retired during the war, but he made a dramatic comeback in 1945 as a re-instated junior with Burnbank Athletic, and collected a winners medal in the Scottish Junior Cup that year as they ultimately defeated Cambuslang Rangers in the final by 3 goals to 1.

When he finally did retire from the game, Bobby retained a keen interest in the football. He was a regular supporter at Fir Park, and would often travel down to London for the big showpiece games down there. Sadly, Bobby died at his home in Motherwell, not long into his 50s. See the 'Scrapbook' tab for the obituary which appeared in the Motherwell Times.


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