Johnston hasn't sidelined his ambition
After a recent parting of the ways with Ballywalter Rec, the club’s former manager John Johnston is facing the possibility of football not featuring in his life for the first ever time… and it’s not a future he cares to contemplate.
The former Port Vale, Ballyclare Comrades and Loughgall player is eager to prove he can be every bit as much a success in the management game as he was in his playing days with another post at an intermediate level club.
If his one and only campaign at Ballywalter is anything to go by, he has the ingredients to fulfil his aim at his next club, if given the opportunity.
Johnston not only helped steer the Ards Peninsula club to their first season in a handful of years without a relegation battle in Division 1B, but also led them to some notable displays in the Irish, Intermediate, and Steel & Sons Cups.
"Those were the highlights," he recalled. "Rathfriland Rangers was our first ever home game in the Irish Cup, and we took them right to the limit (they ended up winning 3-2).
"The win against Nortel in the first round of the Steel & Sons Cup was encouraging because they are one of the top three teams in the Premier Division at the minute, and we showed plenty of promise in our 4-1 defeat against Bangor, having taken a 1-0 lead."
Johnston knows what it takes to lift trophies, having featured in the famous Loughgall side in the mid-90s which secured four successive First Division titles, an Intermediate Cup and a couple of Bob Radcliffe Cups, as well as reaching the semi-final of the Irish Cup.
His dedication has been demonstrated by the fact that he was happy to make the 110-mile round trip from Newtownards to Loughgall several times a week, just to be a part of that all-conquering team.
That passion hasn’t quelled any since making the move to the sidelines, and the ambitious Johnston is determined to show that the early potential he showed at Ballywalter is no one-off.
He added: "Football has been a big part of my life for the past 30 years, and it would do my head in if it wasn’t there any more.
"I have already had a few offers, but without any disrespect to anyone, I would like them to be at least the level that Ballywalter are at. I wanted to do the best I could as a player, and I am no different as a manager.
"It would be great if I could manage a team in the Newtownards/ Bangor area, but I have shown that I am prepared to travel too. There were already a bunch of players who I had lined up to come to Ballywalter for next season, and I have no doubt they will be happy to come to any club who will give me the chance."
Any clubs interested in speaking to Johnston can get in contact with him on 07967530424.
Belfast Telegraph Digital