Steve Johnson's dad, schoolmate and first senior coach look back at the prodigious talent

Steve Johnson (left) and Mark McGough were selected in the All-Australian under 18 team, in 2001. Johnson was drafted by Geelong later that year.
Steve Johnson (left) and Mark McGough were selected in the All-Australian under 18 team, in 2001. Johnson was drafted by Geelong later that year.

Steve Johnson was always a winner. Just ask his dad.

“I had a game of snooker with him up there in Sydney going back a month or so ago and I beat him the first three games,” Terry Johnson said proudly.

“He wanted to keep playing and I said, ‘no, no, the girls are cooking, we’d better get going’.

“He’d just stay there until he won, even if it was only one game because he could say I won the last time we played, I beat you.”

Johnson’s retirement from the AFL after the season will end one of the most exciting careers.

He spent 14 seasons at Geelong from 2002, winning a Norm Smith Medal and three premierships, and has spent the past two years with Greater Western Sydney.

He’s been the ultimate entertainer.

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“I’ve got memories of him, like even at lunchtime, he was always showing off, knowing that he could pop balls into bins and around corners,” former Wangaratta High schoolmate Judd Porter said.

“He had a lot of confidence, but he backed it up every single time.”

And when he played his handful of senior games with Wangaratta as a schoolboy, he never let anything beat him.

“I remember him missing a goal on the run from an angle and it was almost like he had this puzzled look on his face and then I said, ‘Stevie, just square it up mate’,” then senior coach, now Wangaratta president, Col McClounan said.

“He ran in about three minutes later and kicked a banana through and he ran back to the centre, nodding to himself as if to say that’s what should have happened last time.”

McClounan still has a stat sheet from 2001 when Johnson had 45 possessions.

“He was playing with his own footy, he was at another level,” he said.

Terry Johnson remembers the backyard games with his older brother David.

“They would play kick-to-kick and then they got the idea with the basketball ring and they’d take turns in shooting for the ring by kicking the footy, from all different angles,” he said.