Houston Johnny Image 1 Everton 1913

Houston Johnny Image 1 Everton 1913


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Ahoghill, near Ballymena, County Antrim born outside right Johnny Houston started with local junior club South End Olympic before joining Linfield in 1911. He made a big impact on the Irish League scene during 1912. He not only played in Linfield’s march to the Irish Cup semi-final (from whence they were awarded the trophy on a walkover following the resignation from the Irish FA of the three other remaining teams, Cliftonville, Glentoran and Shelbourne), he also won Inter-League honours against the Football League and Scottish League, and his first two caps for Ireland, making his debut in a defeat against Scotland in Belfast in March 1912 and playing in a victory over Wales in Cardiff the next month.

Shortly after winning his third cap against Wales in January 1913, Houston joined Everton, making his Football League debut at centre forward in a 2-0 defeat by Liverpool at Goodison Park on 8th February 1913. More normally an outside right – indeed that’s where he played in all six of his international appearances, the last of which came in a 1-1 draw with Scotland at Windsor Park, Belfast in March 1914 as Ireland won the British Home Championship – Houston had to wait eight months, until a 4-1 defeat at Sheffield United, for his first Everton goal. Having dropped out of the first team reckoning, Houston made just one appearance during the 1914-15 season, in a 3-0 home win over Newcastle on 2nd January, before returning to Linfield in March 1915 after 2 goals in 28 appearances for The Toffees.

During the First World War Houston joined the Royal Irish Rifles, attaining the rank of Acting Colour Sergeant before being promoted to First Lieutenant in the field. He was following in the footsteps of his brother, Leslie, who was killed in action. Houston was awarded the Military Medal in 1917 for conspicuous bravely, when “during an attack on the enemy’s lines all the officers were put out of action and Sergeant Houston took command of his platoon He led the attack in face of a murderous fire, advanced 100 yards and succeeded in taking and holding the objective for 36 hours until relief arrived”.

During the conflict Houston also continued to turn-out for Linfield throughout the War years. In 1916 he played in the 1-0 Irish Cup Final replay victory over Glentoran, giving him a ‘proper’ winner’s medal in addition to his 1912 medal won by default.

After the War Houston played for Ulster Rangers in 1919 and then spent a season with Partick Thistle in the Scottish First Division. He made his Jags debut in a 3-1 Glasgow Cup win at Clyde on 16th September 1919, scoring his only League goal against the same opposition thirteen days later, as Partick lost 3-1 in a match played at Celtic Park. Houston made his final appearnce for Partick against Ayr United, finishing on the end of a 3-0 reverse on 28th April 1920.


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