Wayne John­ston

Inside Sport - - MY FINEST MOMENT - – Dan Eddy

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AYNE JOHN­STON played in four VFL/AFL pre­mier­ships with Carl­ton be­tween 1979 and 1990. He also cap­tained the club, won two best-and fairest-awards and was named on a half-for­ward flank in the Blues’ Team of the Cen­tury. On the field, John­ston was fear­less, bru­tal, un­re­lent­ing; off it, he played just as hard, earn­ing him­self the nick­name “The Dom­i­na­tor”. And he prided him­self on per­form­ing on the game’s big­gest stage: the grand fi­nal.

“I had a fear of fail­ing in big games. If you failed in a big game, you prob­a­bly weren’t go­ing to get an­other chance to play an­other one. I was lucky to have played in big games be­fore I got to Carl­ton. I played in five grand fi­nals with Wandin, then an­other one with VFA club, Prahran. In that 1978 VFA Grand Fi­nal, I had a good game and kicked four goals, in front of al­most 30,000 peo­ple.

“Then I lobbed at Carl­ton in 1979, and we played in front of about 112,000 peo­ple. The noise was like a sonic boom that day. It was a wet Grand Fi­nal, and peo­ple for­get this, but it took us 50 min­utes to kick a goal! They don’t re­alise how tough that was to come back and kick five goals in eight min­utes. I sup­pose peo­ple like my­self, along with wing­man Pe­ter Fran­cis, kept us in the game when we were strug­gling.

“I was ac­tu­ally out at a night­club be­fore the ’79 Grand Fi­nal, but I didn’t have a drink. I went out, then went home and watched the footy marathon on Chan­nel Seven. Jezza [coach Alex Je­saulenko] didn’t care about any cur­few. And they gave me their best player award for the day, so I can’t have gone too bad!

“The 1981 Grand Fi­nal was not a good game, even though we won. We were 22 points down be­fore three­quar­ter time, and we kicked a cou­ple of late goals. Then, their coach Tom Hafey brought Graeme Al­lan out to in­spire his play­ers – I had bro­ken his jaw ear­lier in the game. They reckon a lot of blokes felt sick a–er­wards. I’d come back late in the sea­son, hav­ing missed ten games with a knee in­jury, and I con­trib­uted as best I could that day.

“The fol­low­ing year, Rich­mond were threes-on favourites to beat us, a–er belt­ing us in the sec­ond semi- fi­nal. I was go­ing through my own plan be­fore the game, and Mark Ma­clure came over and said, ‘What you do you think?’ I said, ‘We need to get off to a flyer.’ He said, ‘I don’t think we can beat them.’

“I sup­pose, out­side of 1981, I started us off in each of our vic­to­ries by gežing the first kick, or sežing up a goal, or wip­ing out a player. Lau­rie Hay­den was our ‘shrink’ in 1981 and ’82. He psy­cho­anal­ysed me and came to the con­clu­sion that I saw the game in slow mo­tion when I was up and go­ing. He thought that I had to be height­ened pre-game in or­der to per­form. Pump­ing my­self up be­fore a game was me un­der­stand­ing what the game plan was and what my job was. “I didn’t mind hurt­ing peo­ple. If you take out an op­po­nent, fairly, and it hurts them, it helps your team. When I hit ‘Dip­per’ in ’87, not one Hawthorn per­son came near me, the same with Al­lan in ’81. It doesn’t make me tough, but I ex­pected some­body to come and re­mon­strate with me. I think they saw some­thing they didn’t want to see.

“I was the only one from 1979 who played in all four pre­mier­ships. In 1979, ’82 and ’87 the club gave me their best player in the Grand Fi­nal, and my mates dig me all the time and say I should have won three Norm Smith Medals! I guess in 1982, that was the one where we needed to start well, which I helped us to do. Then I took Mau­rice Ri­oli out of the game, yet he won the bloody medal? I did my job that day, so I must have been a chance to win it.

“I have no re­grets though. I was a full-on, ažack­ing player, but I wasn’t a dirty player; I was just hard. The only one that was out of line was the Al­lan hit. He had been hold­ing me, the um­pires weren’t pay­ing the free kicks, so I told him if he did it again I’d belt him. And I did.”

“I didn’t mind hurt­ing peo­ple. If you take out an op­po­nent, fairly, and it hurts them, it helps your team.”

The me­dia swamps John­son af­ter Carl­ton's 1987 grand fi­nal win.

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