Martin Smith: How a former Sheffield Wednesday boss was the villain in Craig Johnston's story

Normally it’s A Christmas Carol that chills our bones and warms our hearts at this time of year but there’s more than a hint of Charles Dickens about Craig Johnston’s story.

Monday, 14th December 2020, 1:32 pm
Craig Johnston. Photo by Mike Brett/Popperfoto via Getty Images/Getty Images
Craig Johnston. Photo by Mike Brett/Popperfoto via Getty Images/Getty Images

The former Liverpool midfielder’s tale is currently being told by the BBC – and ex-Wednesday boss Jack Charlton is definitely the villain.

Aussie Johnson tells of how his parents sold their house so he could come to England as a 15-year-old for trials at Middlesbrough when Charlton was manager in 1975.

After his trial a furious Charlton told Johnson - in industrial language - that he was the worst player he’d ever seen.

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So bad that Jack kicked him out which meant the landlady who looked after triallists couldn’t let him stay at her house.

With no money to get back to New South Wales and with shades of Oliver Twist the landlady secretly let him sleep in her old coal shed.

He practised on his own in the club car park and cleaned the players cars for cash to survive.

Eventually he made it into the Boro side at 17 before going on to Liverpool where he scored in an FA Cup final victory and won the league five times.

From coal house to great expectations in two years.

*Has there ever been such a time for British heavyweight boxing?

Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury want the first ever fight for all four world heavyweight titles as soon as promoters can sort it.

Joshua's knockout of Kubrat Pulev on Saturday has set up a titanic battle for the right to be called the world’s undisputed best.

The first all-British clash for the heavyweight title was Frank Bruno v Lennox Lewis in October 1993 and negotiations have already started for the biggest British battle of all time.

WBC world heavyweight champion Fury has been installed as an odds-on favourite to beat IBF, WBA and WBO belt holder Joshua if they fight next.

Whoever wins the fight will signal historic a new high-water mark for British heavyweight power.

*No wins all season v eight consecutive wins on the road, it looks like a banker away win.

But there might be one of those sliding doors moments coming up at Bramall Lane on Thursday night.

The Blades have been unlucky all season and a patchy Man Utd have been relying on late miracles to keep their run going.

Could turn out to be a sod’s law classic…