allan johnston

Cult Heroes: Allan Johnston

by Ashley Houghton

We profile fleet-footed winger.

Allan Johnston was one of the more intimidating wingers in Sunderland history; with displays that would terrify most full-backs, the Glaswegian would go on to make over 90 appearances for the Black Cats and starred in one of the club’s most successful campaigns.

Despite being relegated in his first year with the club, he wrote his name in the history books with his first strike in a win over Everton.

His goal in that 3-0 victory would be the last in a league game at Roker Park.

‘Magic’, as he later went on to be known, played a key role in the club’s rise to prominence under Peter Reid between 1997 and 1999.

His skilful wing play, versatility and eye for a scoring chance made him a key member of the Black Cats’ free-scoring side of 1998-99 when the Wearsiders averaged nearly two goals a game.

Best known for his partnership down the left side with Michael Gray, Johnston was the main provider of goals for Niall Quinn and Kevin Phillips as the deadly pair bossed the scoring charts.

The Scot was also no stranger to getting his own name on the scoresheet, bagging nine goals that season, including a brace in a vital home win over Bolton Wanderers.

Having started his professional career at Hearts, where he netted a hat-trick against then Scottish champions Rangers, he moved to France with Rennes, spending just a year in the north-west of France before moving to Sunderland.

Capped 18 times by his country, Johnston was the first Sunderland player to score twice for the Tartan Army, with two strikes in his second and third appearances –against the Faroe Islands and the Czech Republic respectively.

‘Magic’ joined Rangers on a free-transfer in 1999 before playing with Middlesbrough, Kilmarnock and St. Mirren.

Johnston is still playing to this day. Now 39, he is the player-manager at Queen of the South, who, under his stewardship, have won 30 of the 37 games he has taken charge of.