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City mourns stalwart

Tuesday, 8th August, 2017

The late Lionel Johnston presenting the medal named in his honour to the Best and Fairest footballer of season 2013, North’s Health Caldwell The late Lionel Johnston presenting the medal named in his honour to the Best and Fairest footballer of season 2013, North’s Health Caldwell

By Andrew Robertson

The local football and cricket community is mourning the passing of one of the city’s sporting greats, Lionel Johnston.

Mr Johnston, whose name has been synonymous with Broken Hill football and his beloved Jubilee Oval for decades, died on Sunday night aged 94.

AFL Broken Hill chairman Andrew Schmidt yesterday described Mr Johnston’s contribution to the game as an administrator as unparalleled.

“You cannot sum up in a few lines what Lionel has meant for football in our city,” he said.

“He started out in a voluntary basis and ended up spending most of his adult life working behind the scenes.”

A decision to fill-in as assistant secretary of the BHFL for a few weeks in 1964 turned into a lifelong commitment to the sport by Mr Johnston.

The board also gave his name to their league administration building, following extensive renovations about six years ago.

When he wasn’t in the office Mr Johnston could often be found sitting on a tractor at his beloved Jubilee Oval, where he was caretaker for many years.

“I love driving the ride-on lawn mower around the Jubilee Oval,” he once said.

Football wasn’t his only passion. Son Peter yesterday said his father was a talented cricketer who represented NSW. 

“He played NSW country cricket on the Sydney Cricket Ground and still holds the record for most number of wickets in a (local) season with 57.

“He was basically the number one life member of the Central District Cricket Club and was founding member of the Eagles Baseball Club.

“So he’s had a fair impact on sport over the years.”   

Mr Johnston received numerous awards for his services to sport and was also a life member of the BHFL.

“The game of football is richer for his contribution, the poorer for his passing,” Schmidt said. 

“Even in his later years while not holding an official position he was a vital source of information and advice for every local AFL chairman. 

“He was the most humble and respected football administrator I have ever met. ì

“The sympathy of all in Broken Hill Football go out to his family.”

Mr Johnston is survived by his children Peter, Jennifer, Christopher and Suzanne.

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