NNSWF unveil Craig Johnston building

Northern NSW Football is delighted to announce the naming of the Craig Johnston Building at the Lake Macquarie Regional Football Facility in honour of one of the finest players to ever come from the northern NSW region.

About 100 guests were in attendance at LMRFF on Wednesday for the unveiling of the new name for the building, officially opened in 2020, which was part of stage two of the $14.5 million Regional Football Facility Project.

But while Johnston’s on-pitch achievements speak for themselves, even more impressive is his connection with the northern NSW football community, particularly the Lake Macquarie region.

Johnston grew up at Boolaroo and Speers Point before he famously left home as a 15-year-old with the dream of becoming a professional footballer in England.

And against all odds, he did it.

Johnston said he was honoured to have the building named after him.

“I would like to thank Northern NSW Football for this heartfelt gesture,” Johnston said. 

“I am honored to have this building named after myself as a foundation for my legacy to the sport and the region that I proudly come from.

“I am looking forward to working with a new group of football administrators with a vision, foresight and plan for the improvement of future generations.

“I firmly believe that more kids playing more sport more often will produce better kids, better community and a better country.”

Johnston got his chance at Middlesbrough and took it. He made his debut in the FA Cup at the age of 17 and made 64 appearances for the club before joining Liverpool.

It was there that Johnston was part of, arguably, one of the best football teams of all time. Craig helped Liverpool win five English Football League First Division titles, the European Cup, the FA Cup and two English League Cups. As part of that team, Craig made 271 appearances and scored 40 goals across eight years. He also scored in the victorious 1986 FA Cup final, a 3-1 victory over Everton.

But to get there, he started here. Johnston played with Lake Macquarie and represented Northern NSW representative youth teams. He attended Booragul Primary School and Booragul High School. He even made a handful of appearances on loan for Newcastle KB United in 1978 and 1982. At the height of his career in England, despite all the physical and mental pressure was under playing at that level, he still managed to give back to his community. It is impossible to imagine something like that happening now, which is a measure of Johnston’s dedication to the northern NSW region.

Johnston was inducted into the Football Australia Hall of Fame in 2005 and NNSWF CEO Peter Haynes said it was only fitting that NNSWF too honoured one of its finest contributors. 

“Craig Johnston's name is etched into the very fabric of northern NSW football, Australian football and Liverpool Football Club's rich history. Today, we immortalise his legacy with the dedication of this building,” Haynes said.

“For those who followed his career through the years, Craig Johnston is more than just a name. He is a symbol of passion, dedication and the relentless pursuit of excellence. From the moment he stepped onto the hallowed grounds of Anfield, he captured the hearts of fans with his skill, tenacity and unwavering commitment to the team. But long before that, that skill, tenacity and unwavering commitment were born here in our region, with nothing but a football, or a tennis ball, and a brick wall.

“As we unveil the plaque that bears his name, let it be a reminder to everyone who enter this building of the values that Craig Johnston represents—hard work, teamwork and an unyielding belief. These are all attributes we want our next generation of northern NSW footballers to embody. A mindset to never, ever give up. And the lesson that with true dedication you can achieve anything you set your mind to.

“May this building stand as a tribute to a man who has left an indomitable legacy on Liverpool Football Club, Australian football and, most importantly, northern NSW football. In an area where, no matter his accomplishments, he can always call home.

“Let it be a place where future generations draw inspiration from Craig Johnston’s remarkable journey—a journey that reflects the very essence of what it means to be a part of this incredible football family.

“Craig, we thank you for the memories and the inspiration you have provided to all young footballers from our region. We not only name this building after you but we etch your name into our history, ensuring your legacy lives on for generations to come.”