Bobby Johnstone: The Passing of An Age (Breedon Books) by John Leigh

Last updated : 10 August 2007 By Ben Collins

In 1956, Johnstone became the first player to score in consecutive FA Cup Finals at Wembley when he scored the final goal in City's 3-1 win over Birmingham.

But Johnstone's historic feat was overshadowed by an injury to Trautmann late in the game. The German keeper played on despite being in excruciating pain, and days later it was discovered that Trautmann had suffered a broken neck.

So, instead of going down as the 'Johnstone Final', the 1956 Cup Final is best remembered for Trautmann's heroics.
As The Passing of An Age shows, this episode was typical of Johnstone's career.

The 'wee' Scot was a supremely-gifted footballer, one of the best of his generation, and was adored at each of the clubs he played - Hibernian, City and Oldham. Yet so many times during his career, something conspired against Johnstone to deny him the recognition his talent deserved and prevent him being put on a par with the likes of Stanley Matthews and Tom Finney.

Born-and-bred in the Scottish village of Selkirk, Johnstone was part of 'the famous five' that led Hibernian to the Scottish League title in 1948, 1951 and 1952 - they won it once before (1903) and haven't won it since! However, Johnstone was seen as the unsung hero of 'the famous five'.

He made a sparkling start at international level but, at the peak of his powers, injury ruled him out of the 1954 World Cup and later cut short his international career. He then left City prematurely in 1959 following a fall-out with the manager, and had to resurrect his career with Oldham in 1960 after another fall-out at Hibs.

But although he may not be regarded as one of football's greats, he still holds legendary status at Hibernian, City and Oldham.

Renowned as a quality exponent of the weighted pass, Johnstone created many goals for his team-mates, yet almost scored just as many too. Goalscoring records soared wherever Johnstone went and fans came in their droves to see him in action - 17,000 saw his Oldham debut in 1960 when they were near the bottom of Division Four!

One of those captivated by Johnstone was John Leigh, a lifelong City fan. He insists this book is his first and last - he admired Johnstone so much he felt his story just had to be told.

It is clear that The Passing of An Age is a labour of love. It is painstakingly researched, and despite often being laden with stats, it still reads well. For those like myself who only knew of Bobby Johnstone from the City history books, this book provides a real insight into the man behind the myth.

Despite Leigh's clear admiration for Johnstone, he attempts to give an honest account of his life. Johnstone liked a drink and his stubbornness may have affected his career, yet he was a warm character and the fact he is fondly remembered 50 years on shows the regard he is held in.

Johnstone died in 2001 aged 71, and it is a shame there wasn't a book like this published during this lifetime. But better late than never, and this is a fitting tribute to a fine footballer.