One of the greatest defenders to feature in the 28 years of the Welsh Premier League celebrates his 33rd birthday today.
Michael Johnston is best known for his medal-winning achievements at Bangor City between 2008-11, but has also represented Wales at under-17, U-19 and U-23 semi-professional levels.
Not the tallest of central-defenders, Michael is nonetheless capable in the air and also a great tackler with outstanding positional sense, as well as being astute on the ball.
After signing for Tranmere Rovers as a youth in 2006 he joined the reserve squad, but just before the September 2007 transfer window, under-16 manager at Prenton Park, Alan Morgan, who had also become number two to Neville Powell at Bangor City, persuaded “Johnno” to move to Farrar Road on loan.
Michael, whose brother Patrick had played for Porthmadog in the League of Wales in 2001-02, made his debut for the Citizens at Welshpool Town on September 15, 2007. Although the blues lost the Welsh Premier encounter 2-0, their new defender showed plenty of promise.
During the summer of 2008 he was released by Rovers and wasted no time in signing for City on a permanent basis.
Johnston was superb throughout that 2007-08 campaign, finishing off with a Welsh Cup winners’ medal when Bangor beat Llanelli in the final at Newtown 4-2 after extra time.
He went on to make it a hat-trick of triumphs in Wales’ premier national knockout, with City also lifting the trophy in 2009 and 2010.
The following season Johnno was again a key man at the back as the blues defied the odds to win their first Welsh Premier title in 16 years, breaking the top flight stranglehold of full-timers The New Saints, who they beat 1-0 at Farrar Road in the championship decider.
In total, Michael made 240 Welsh Premier appearances for Bangor over eight seasons, four of them as a substitute.
One thing he did not specialise in was scoring goals. He managed just one in the league, two in the Welsh Cup and one in the League Cup.
All four of his first team goals came in his first two seasons at the club, but Johnno’s main job was to prevent the opposition from scoring and he did that better than anyone.
Michael also holds the record for the most appearances in European competition in a Bangor shirt, starting all 14 of City’s matches in Europe between 2008-14.
The highlight was the 2010-11 Europa League tie against Honka Espoo of Finland, which the Citizens won 3-2 on aggregate.
In 2015-16, Johnno joined Llandudno in their first season as a Welsh Premier club, but left the following summer. He later had spells at Caernarfon Town, Brickfield Rangers and briefly Runcorn.
The 2018-19 season saw Michael make a surprise return to Bangor City, who were now in the tier two Cymru Alliance.
Then in summer 2019, the defender joined former City team-mate Les Davies as marquee signings for new club Bangor 1876.
Michael had an outstanding season for an 1876 side which lifted the Gwynedd League title at the first attempt.
A teacher by trade and a truly nice guy who is well-liked throughout the game, there will only ever be one Johnno.
Many happy returns for the day.
An interesting footnote
Former Bangor City striker Les Davies made worldwide headlines in 2012 when he was included among the elite 32 contenders for the Best Player in Europe award.
Les made the final cut as only 32 players in total from across Europe were nominated among the judges representing the Uefa member nations.
Had the same scenario occurred 12 months earlier, then Michael Johnston would have attracted the same attention as Les, as Johnno was also nominated for the award by Wales judge Dave Jones.
However, as there were more than 32 players selected in 2011, Johnno was not included in the elite group.