October is Black History Month, and we are celebrating by recognising and shining a light on the efforts of black players throughout Barrow's history. Today we look back at defender Eddie Johnston.
There was some surprise when in the summer of 1997, manager Owen Brown signed thirty seven year old defender Eddie Johnston.
Liverpudlian Eddie had come to senior non-league soccer late – in 1989 when he joined South Liverpool and he went on to play for Bangor City and Accrington Stanley before joining Knowsley United. United had folded that summer and Johnston was seen as a good squad addition.
He made his debut on the opening day of the season in the 2-2 draw at Altrincham on the opening day of the season and he established himself as part of the back three from mid- October with Dave Higgins and a young Paul Jones.
He was a strong defender who read the game well and had an eye for goal when the chance came. He earned cult hero status as a result of the last sixteen FA Trophy tie with Northwich Victoria in February 1998. The game with the Conference side was heading for a 0-0 draw when in injury time Eddie headed home the winner to spark wild celebrations and the iconic picture of Eddie heading off to the main stand, short of in celebration pursued by his team mates.
However, arguably, just over a month later Eddie played a vital role in helping the team to the UniBond Premier Division title.
At the start of April, title rivals Runcorn visited Holker Street and thirteen minutes in Steve Farrelly was taken off injured. Eddie donned the goalkeeping jersey and performed superbly as Barrow won 1-0 thanks to Lee Cooper’s goal.
Eddie made thirty nine appearances that season scoring four times and won one of the Player of the Year awards at the end of the season.
He enhanced his reputation in his second season with the club as a committed individual as he along with Jones, Higgins and Ian Foster remained for the whole season despite the club going into liquidation in January 1999.
Again, Eddie performed consistently and the highlights of that campaign came, for him, in 1999. Firstly in January with the club in serious financial trouble, Eddie again donned the goalkeeper’s jersey again for an ATS Trophy tie at Southport after Tony Parks had declined to play because of potential insurance issues.
Eddie performed well although the team went down 2-0 to Southport. Then in early April, Eddie was the hero in the home game against fellow strugglers Farnborough Town at Holker Street. The game was heading into injury time when Barrow were awarded a penalty. Eddie stepped forward and crashed the ball home to earn a vital three points in the fight against relegation.
The Liverpudlian made thirty seven appearances that season, scoring twice to take his overall tally to six goals in seventy six games for the club.
Eddie might have stayed the following season but the off the field uncertainty meant that he left the club and spent the following season playing regularly for Stalybridge Celtic. He had a spell after that with Droylsden before finishing his career with St Helens Town.