Phil Parkinson has made his first signing as manager of Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Premier Division new boys Altrincham by landing pacey winger John Johnston from former Vanarama National League North rivals Salford City.
The 22-year-old admitted he took little persuading to link up again with Parkinson soon after Salford’s season finished in dramatic fashion, with a penalty-shoot-out defeat in last Sunday’s National League North play-off semi-final against FC Halifax Town at The Shay.
Johnston said: “That was a tough one to take at Halifax but, to be honest, it probably wouldn’t have made any difference if we had got through and gone on to win promotion. Once I got the call from Phil, I really didn’t need much persuading at all to become an Alty player.
“For one thing, this is a massive club in non-League circles, and you can really sense the expectation and desire to get back up next season and keep climbing. I want to be part of it and play a role in getting Altrincham back where they belong.
“On top of that, playing for Parky is a big factor, probably the biggest influence of all. I played for him on loan at Nantwich Town earlier this year, and he was class. He got the best out of me and really got me going, just as he did with all the lads there.
“His man-management skills are second to none. You want to play for him, and the time I spent at Nantwich was one of the most enjoyable I’ve had in football.”
Johnston scored 3 goals in his first three games for Salford and made twenty-four appearances overall in their Northern Premier League promotion campaign after starting out at Kidsgrove Athletic and Leek Town and having spells at Crewe Alexandra and Alfreton Town.
“I’m basically an old-fashioned winger who likes taking people on and getting the ball into the danger area,” he said. “I’d say I’m direct in my style. There’s nothing complicated about it really, get past my man and cross the ball for someone who can finish it off. That’s what I’ll be aiming to do, and hopefully I can increase my goal tally as well; that will be another target next season.
“I was gutted my last game for Salford finished the way it did. It was incredibly tense, and when it went to penalties, I was down for the fourth one. I’ve always been a good penalty-taker, but I didn’t get the chance. We missed our first three, so when they made it 3-0 with their fourth, that was it. I was due to take the next one, but it was all over.
“Our first one was saved, but the next two sailed over the bar, and both lads said they slipped at the last minute. It was very sandy where the spot was. The other penalty area was in much better condition, but Halifax won the toss before kick-off and chose the end where their fans were. It was the same for both teams and just one of those things.
“The main thing now is showing Altrincham fans what I’m about and doing my best for the team and the manager. As I said, I know what Parky is all about, and I can only see good things for us next season”.