It is rare for a football story to be as endearing as that of Harry Johnson. From being an unassuming character from a small village to end up being the top scorer in the history of his two different football clubs and part of an FA Cup winning team. Here is his story…
Born in 1899 in the village of Ecclesfield in Sheffield Harry Johnson grew up to be one of the greatest natural goal scorers in English football. He was just 17 in 1916 when he joined his local side Sheffield United.
He became a Blades legend in a career that lasted more than ten years and culminated in him scoring over 200 goals for the club. He was part of the exciting United team of the 1920’s that had attacking players like Fred Tunstall and Billy Gillespie.
He first played for the club in 1916, given his chance due to the number of men being away on War duty. During a reserve game he was so good that one of the fans, supporting the opposition, threatened him with a gun!
He too went on war duty but in his first season after the war he became a local favourite due to his hard work and goals scoring ability. In the 1919/20 season he scored 11 times in 24 outings. One local writer said of him:
“Harry Johnson – they ought to call him Harry Hotspur – may not be the ideal centre forward. He may not be able to ‘kill’ the ball as Billy Gillespie does; he may not distribute adroitly; but, like Her Majesty’s Jolly, once in a while he can finish in style, and it his electric, deadly finish which makes him a match winner”
He would be a regular scorer for the Blades throughout the 1920s and was part of the Sheffield United side that won the 1925 FA Cup, beating Cardiff City 1-0 in the final thanks to Fred Tunstall goal in front of a crowd of 91,763.
It was clear that Johnson’s Sheffield United career was coming to an end by 1929 and he moved on to Mansfield Town ready for the 1931/32 season. In his time at Sheffield United Johnson scored 201 times in 313 appearances and is still their record goal scorer to this day.
What is even more incredible is that, at the age of 32, he joined The Stags and went on to become their record scorer as well! In his first season Johnson bagged 32 goals in a struggling side. He scored 30 in his second season and he grabbed 18 in the 1933/34 season. He was slowing down by this stage of his career but still managed 17 goals in the 1934/35 season as Mansfield finished 8th in the Northern section of Division 3. He reached the 100 goal mark by September 1935 but it was clear that this would be his last season and retired at the end of the campaign finishing his Mansfield career with 104 goals in just 163 games!
What a career for the Sheffield born hero, finishing top scorer in the history of two different clubs with a career goals total of 305 in 476 games. He was even capped 6 times by England! Both goal scoring records still stand and it is likely to remain the case for many years to come!
Words James Richards