Young Hayley spots Sunderland’s Dunfermline connection and interviews Allan ‘Magic’ Johnston

Hayley Penman goes for two big interviews – and gets one of them

Monsieur Salut writes: in a sign of age, I imposed ‘Hayley Mulls’ on our charming young writer Hayley Penman as the generic title for her occasional offerings here. And how welcome those contributions are. With gentle paternal guidance from our old friend John Penman, Hayley – just 12 on November 14 – came up with the idea of interviewing two men associated with the clubs that matter to her, Sunderland and Dunfermline. One day, we (or she) will come up with ideas for a better collective title for her articles than Hayley Mulls – and one day David Moyes, who admittedly has had more pressing matters on his plate, may add the missing responses to her questions …

In no particular order, I support Dunfermline Athletic and Sunderland and while I was thinking about what to write, my dad suggested links between the two clubs.

Warning: this may be confusing. I knew David Moyes played for Dunfermline at one point and, of course, that he now manages Sunderland. Allan Johnston played for Sunderland and now manages Dunfermline. It’s weird but interesting at the same time.

Johnston was at Sunderland for three years (1997-2000) and played 87 times scoring 19 goals (he would be a great winger for Jermain Defoe). I wasn’t even alive! But if I couldn’t see him play for myself, I have watched a number of his goals on YouTube and my favourite was when he nutmegged the goalkeeper against… I think it was Bradford but we aren’t too sure.

He also scored goals that Sunderland never score any more nowadays: long distance, short distance and even after dribbling past defenders.

In his first season at Sunderland (1996-97), we were relegated into the First Division but he scored the final competitive goal, also his first for SAFC, at Roker Park in a 3-0 win over Everton in the last home game. But then Sunderland won the title two season later to return to the Premier.

In 1999-2000 he never appeared for Sunderland, instead playing on loan at Birmingham City and Bolton Wanderers. He then went to Glasgow to play for Rangers. He was known well as Magic Johnston because, as my dad said, he made 40,000 Rangers fans disappear from Ibrox when he scored his 3rd goal in a 3-0 win for Hearts [we also used to call him “Magic”, Hayley – Ed].

Hayley indulges her other footballing passion
Hayley indulges her other footballing passion

Magic kindly answered my questions after I emailed the club.

Hayley (HP): You played at both stadiums, Stadium Of Light and Roker Park, what were the differences and the similarities?

Allan Johnston (AJ): The differences are: Stadium Of Light is a brand new stadium, it was bigger and a better atmosphere. But obviously the Sunderland fans cared a lot about Roker Park’s history and I was fortunate enough to score the last goal there, too, and I’m really proud to have done that.

HP: What was your most memorable moment, goal and match for Sunderland?

AJ: Most memorable goal would have been … I think it was the semi final of the playoffs, I just managed to the winner against Sheffield United to get us through to the playoff final.

HP: What was the best thing about Sunderland football club?

AJ: It was a massive club. I was lucky enough to go at the right time – the club was just taking off, about to go to a new stadium but unfortunately we got relegated to [what is now] the Championship. But that following season we got into the playoff finals and the year after that we were champions so it was a club that was as I say taking off. We brought in some really good players, guys like Kevin Phillips who went on to play for England and score a lot of goals in the Premier League.

HP: Who was the best player you played with at Sunderland?

AJ: Well there were a lot of good players, but especially the front two I’d say, two very different players. Niall Quinn was obviously a target man, good at holding the ball in, creating goals .. he was just a great team player. Kevin Phillips, he was a young player that had only been signed from Watford and he just had that ability to be there at the right place at the right time. He was a great goalscorer and proved that not just in the Championship but also in the Premier League as well when he won the golden boot award.

HP: What were your overall thoughts on the Sunderland fans?

AJ: Amazing, it’s very similar to Rangers and Celtic, big rivalry down there with Sunderland and Newcastle. It’s like Dunfermline as well, get right behind their team and showing support for the club, I loved my time there and it’s a great place to be.

HP: Anything else you would like to say about Sunderland?

AJ: I loved my time there, I played with a lot of good players and the fans were amazing. I had a really good time; it was successful so yeah, I really enjoyed it.

Thank you Magic! On the other hand, we have David Moyes who played for Dunfermline and currently manages Sunderland.

David signed for Dunfermline in from Shrewsbury Town in 1990 as a centre back. He scored 13 goals with 103 appearances for Dunfermline and left in 1993.

However in 1991, the fans were angry with him after some very poor performances. He admitted in the Par’s programme that there had been some bad displays. At that time, Dunfermline weren’t scoring many goals; in fact David was the top scorer for the season, even though he was a central defender, with five goals! So it was into to First Division for Dunfermline but because of injury didn’t kick a ball again until October 1992. He moved to Hamilton before signing for Preston North End, where he made 143 appearances.

Jake: 'top performance needed, Lads
Jake: ‘top performance needed, Lads

See the incomparable Salut! Sunderland buildup to Liverpool vs SAFC. Guess the Score for a great Art of Football print as prize for the winner, and a classy Who are You? Interview with The Anfield Wrap’s Gareth Roberts: Go to the home page

I hoped to get David Moyes to answer a number of questions of his time at Dunfermline but am still awaiting a reply [we will happily publish a follow-up article if David does respond, Hayley – Ed]. So I asked a family friend Steven Miller, a long time Dunfermline supporter, for his memories of David

“He arrived just after Leishman was sacked and we had poor managers in Iain Munro and Jocky Scott,” said Steven. “Moyes was top scorer one season with only five goals but he was not a fans’ favourite! He was decent but not liked by comparison with guys like Norrie McCathie. He played in my first cup final, the Skol cup v Hibs – the Pars were brutal and lost two-nil! Heady days were on the way out but he still played in a team with our best ever attack: Ross Jack, George O’Boyle and Istvan Kozma

“Moyes and Johnston have both been successful but it’s fair to say Johnston has been a better player than Moyes but Moyes has been a more successful manager.”

* Watch this space for any eventual David Moyes sequel …

5 thoughts on “Young Hayley spots Sunderland’s Dunfermline connection and interviews Allan ‘Magic’ Johnston”

  1. Great stuff Hayley. We have good memories of Magic Johnston and that team – I was really sorry when he left. Love the picture of you and Kirstin too. Pleased that even after watching so many defeats (at Sunderland at least) you haven’t given up!

  2. “He also scored goals that Sunderland never score any more nowadays: long distance, short distance and even after dribbling past defenders.”

    ….out of the mouthes of babes….those skills have indeed been rare in a Sunderland winger since….

    Allan was tremendous to watch in a team with great wing and full back pairings. A shame he fell out with Reid after expressing a desire to play for Rangers, which lost him his place in the team and, I have to say, my respect.

    Off topic, I liked the band Big Country and saw them play at Roker Park supporting Bowie (on his awful Glass Spider Tour) at Roker Park in 1987. The lead singer/guitarist Stuart Adamson, was a big Dunfermline fan, incredible to think he died 15 years ago.

  3. Hello, my name is William Fowler. I too am a supporter of both Dunfermline Athletic and Sunderland. I lived for a few years in Durham and regularly went to Roker Park, sadly I’ve never been to the Stadium of Light. Without doubt my best memory of Sunderland dates from 1973. I was living in Durham at the time – the town was something to see when the cup was won!

    I should add that I also have fond memories of Dunfermline’s cup exploits – I was at Hamden when the Pars won the cup in 1961 and again in 1968. I was also at East End Park for many of their European games, including the famous 6-2 victory over Valencia.

    I went on to live in various other places but have always looked out for the results of the two teams.

    About 5 years ago I moved back to my home town and I am now a season ticket holder, as is my daughter and my 4 grandsons.

    Keep up the good work, Hayley, this is a superb bit of reporting

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