Liverpool legend David Johnson – the ‘Doc’ dies, aged 71

david johnson playing for liverpool fc

Former Reds striker David Johnson died yesterday after a long battle with throat cancer.

He will be forever famous for wearing both the blue of Everton and the red of Liverpool, and being the first player to score for each side in the Merseyside derby.

To date, only Johnson and fellow legend Peter Beardsley hold this record.

His team mates called him ‘the doc’, as they would often find his match bag full of cough sweets and tablets, for his sore throat and headaches.

Johnson famously said that Terry McDermott gave him the name and it stuck.

“Everyone used to go through my bag to use my gear.

“Terry Mac went in there one time and took out all these pills and said: ‘It’s like a flippin’ doctor’s bag’, and after that, it just stuck.”

Everton, Ipswich and England

Johnson began his career across Stanley Park at Everton in 1969, aged 17 but his big breakthrough came aged 19 in 1971 when making his debut.

In November of the same year, he scored in the Merseyside derby as the Toffees defeated Liverpool 1-0 at Goodison Park.

If this didn’t catch the Anfield club’s attention then what would.

In 1972, he went onto move to Ipswich Town, playing under legendary manager Sir Bobby Robson where he would win the 1973 Texaco Cup against local rivals Norwich City.

Johnson scored 35 goals for Ipswich across four seasons, in 136 appearances which helped propel him into the England squad.

In 1975, under Don Revie, he made his England debut scoring twice in a 2-2 draw with Wales at Wembley.

He then scored twice in a 3-1 win against Argentina at Wembley, which saw Diego Maradona play for the first time in England.

Johnson went onto feature in Ron Greenwood’s 1980 European Championships squad in Italy.

In total, he received eight caps and scored an impressive six times for his country.

Trophies at Liverpool

But it really was with Liverpool that Johnson’s career will be fondly remembered most.

He won a total of 15 trophies with the team he grew up supporting with his family, who suffered a “great shock” when he signed for the rivals in blue.

However, in 1976, Liverpool at last landed their man for a then club record fee of £200,000.

This was after years of narrow misses when legendary coach Bill Shankly had tried and failed to sign Johnson when he was at Everton and also Ipswich.

But it was his successor Bob Paisley who welcomed the striker through the doors of Anfield.

In his debut season for the Reds, the team were chasing a historic treble in 1977.

They managed to win the league title by one point above Manchester City, and five above Ipswich.

After losing 2-1 at Wembley in the FA Cup final to Manchester United, Liverpool rebounded to win their first European Cup with a 3-1 win against Germany’s Borussia Mönchengladbach, in Rome.

These were the days when Johnson would compete and play alongside the likes of John Toshack, Kevin Keegan, and David Fairclough.

In April 1978, that’s when Johnson famously scored for the Reds, with an assist from Ray Kennedy, as they won the Merseyside derby 1-0.

Johnson by this time, showing a clear knack of being on the winning side, as well as his record of scoring on his debut, which ran right through from junior level.

He then helped Liverpool to win back-to-back European Cup’s in 1978, defeating Club Brugge 1-0 at Wembley, courtesy of a goal from Dalglish, in front of 92,000 spectators.

In 1979, Johnson and Liverpool wrapped up another league title, as this time, after failing the year before, they pipped Nottingham Forest to the championship, by eight points.

In 1980, Liverpool successfully defended the league title as Paisley’s men finished two points above rivals Manchester United.

Another notable win was Johnson and Paisley’s third European Cup which came in 1981 as Liverpool famously beat Spanish giants Real Madrid, 1-0 at the Parc des Princes in Paris, Alan Kennedy with the winning goal.

Johnson’s final act was winning the league in 1982, as Liverpool beat Ipswich to the title by four points.

Moving on

With the emergence of Ian Rush, game time became limited and Johnson soon returned to Everton, where he would stay a further two years.

The Englishman finished his playing days in America and Malta, before regularly appearing on BBC Radio Merseyside to analyse the Reds.

For Liverpool, he played a total of 213 matches, scoring 78 goals.

His accolades included, four First Division titles in six seasons, three legendary European Cup successes, two League cups, four Charity Shields and the European Super Cup.

From all of us at Friends of Liverpool, thank you ‘Doc’ for all the goals and the memories, may you rest in peace.

James Spencer

My name is James and I have supported Liverpool since I was 6 years old. My favourite players growing up were Steven Gerrard and Sami Hyypia. My most memorable match would be the UEFA Cup Final win over Deportivo Alaves that finished 5-4 to Liverpool! I am studying journalism in Manchester although I am a Liverpool fan through and through.

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