Nominated and Seconded by Nick Taylor and Bill Watt
Wanneroo Rugby Club is proud to recognise and acknowledge 27 years of outstanding service by Michael Johnston.
Michael ‘Jonno’ Johnston started playing at Wanneroo in 1990 when he was 17 years old. Although he had never played rugby before he was an exceptionally talented young sportsman and he took to the game immediately.
By 1992 when he was 19, he was selected to play for First Grade. He went on to play 155 senior first grade games by 2006, when he decided to retire from First Grade.
His count couldn’t be finalised at that time because he actually continued to play First Grade intermittently for years afterwards. Maybe, at 44 years of age, it’s time to finalise his total now.
Although we are still waiting for official confirmation, we know Jonno has played close to 200 games for Wanneroo. His count is remarkable because he only played one game for the Roo Dogs between 1998 and 2000.
In 1998 he moved to Kalgoorlie for work and played his one and only game for the club while on holiday in Perth.
In 1999 and 2000 Wanneroo Rugby Club was playing in the Districts Competition and had become the most successful club in it. But because of RugbyWA’s rules at that time, the club was unable to get promotion back into the Senior Premiership competition. Jonno wanted to test himself at the highest level, so with club encouragement and approval, he took a sabbatical for two years to play for Perth. As expected he made their first grade and was very successful.
In 2001 Wanneroo regained Senior Premiership Club status and Jonno immediately came home and resumed his 1st grade career with The Roo Dogs. Unfortunately he broke his leg after just seven games and was unable to play for the rest of the year. He resumed playing in 2002 and achieved the same high standards as before.
After 2006 he decided to retire from First Grade and play down the grades to enjoy social rugby with his old mates. But during the following years, the club was sometimes short of key players and he was regularly called on to play at all levels. He never refused. Jonno was still very fit and often played two games a day. He would play 4ths and then either 3rds or 2nds straight after. He also benched and played many games for First Grade and continued to do so into his 40’s.
Jonno is totally committed and loyal to his club, his mates and his family. He has represented Wanneroo with distinction as a player, team captain, club captain, committee member and volunteer. He was a fiercely competitive player, but always fair. As captain he was confident, positive, encouraging and helpful. He was unique in that he had the respect and friendship, not just of his own players but of his opponents too. He is a mentor and friend to young inexperienced players and a source of inspiration to senior players.
But there is another side to Jonno, and that is his celebrated and legendary capacity to enjoy himself socially. As with his playing career, he always gives it all he’s got and is a very generous, entertaining host and companion. We all have multitudes of funny tales and hilarious incidents concerning him and his social escapades. There are far too many to go into in print, but please feel free to ask him.
Off-field he is just as generous with his time, labour and expertise. He is always first to volunteer for working B’s and any other club needs. In his trade as a locksmith he has been invaluable, repeatedly reorganising and re-keying the club for improved security. Many times he has had to repair damage caused by vandalism and break-in’s. Sometimes we have had to ring him in the early hours of the morning and he has come out immediately – no matter how long or hard he had been celebrating!
He is married to Anna and they have three children – Caitlyn, Joseph & Thomas. Their boys are the new generation of Johnston’s playing for Wanneroo. But Anna & Jonno bring all three of their children to the club and Caitlyn is as much a part of the club as her brothers.
Along with other ex-players of his era, who bring their children to Wanneroo Districts, Anna and Jonno are helping to build a new and very welcome family orientated atmosphere to our club.
We are proud and privileged to give this brief history of Mike Johnston’s contribution to Wanneroo Districts Rugby Union Club and see him awarded Life Membership.
Bill Watt and Nick Taylor