Wangaratta – Victoria
Murray Bushrangers / Geelong / GWS Giants / Sydney Swans
A three-time Premiership player and All-Australian representative, Steve Johnson is one of the most mercurial players in the modern game. His 2007 season in particular is one of the greatest football stories and one that will be long remembered. Johnson transformed himself over the 2007 summer after having been close to being traded, followed by a club-imposed suspension. The ex-Murray Bushranger worked tirelessly to get a fitness base that allowed him to show his phenomenal talents week in, week out.
Returning to the Cats side in Round 6, Johnson kicked 49 goals for the season, and had career highs in every major statistical category. After being selected in the All-Australian team, Johnson was a lynchpin of Geelong’s drought-breaking Premiership win, with four goals and receiving the Norm Smith Medal. A lively forward from Wangaratta, Johnson originally caught the eye of scouts during the 2001 Under-18 Championships where he gained All-Australian selection. Geelong had no hesitation in drafting him at the end of that year. A star in Geelong’s late season charge in 2004, Johnson has long been one of the AFL’s hardest defensive match-ups, given his size and skill.
In 2008, Johnson carried on his outstanding form with another All-Australian season, kicking 53 goals to lead all scorers for the Cats. Johnson picked up where he left off in 2009, kicking 37 goals in the first 13 rounds before a hip injury hampered his efforts in the later half of the year. He continued to play under duress and was rewarded with his second premiership medallion in three years, as the Cats beat St Kilda in a Grand Final epic.
In 2010, Johnson produced a career best haul of 63 goals, resulting in his third All Australian selection. In 2011, Johnson was a key member in Geelong’s third premiership in five years. After suffering what looked to be a season ending knee injury in the Preliminary Final, Johnson produced a remarkable recovery, getting himself right to play in the decider. He kicked four goals to fire his side’s victory over Collingwood. Johnson played his 200th game and kicked his 400th goal in 2013, a season which saw him poll a career high 25 Brownlow votes.
At the end of the 2017 season, Johnson announced his retirement from the AFL. He has left the league having kicked 516 goals, won three premierships, several All-Australian selections and more so, a lasting impression as one of the league’s greatest small forwards to have played. Upon his retirement, Johnson has now joined the Sydney Swans as an Assistant Coach. Johnson will look to continue his AFL legacy in providing years of experience, knowledge and mentoring to the players of the Sydney Swans.
Johnson has featured on a number of football related television shows sharing his insightful knowledge of the game including The Game Plan (OneHD) and The Footy Show (Nine Network). At the end of the 2015 season, Johnson was traded to the AFL’s newest club, the GWS Giants. The emerging team was bolstered by the experience Johnson offered, with him kicking 43 goals as the Giants played finals football for the first time in 2016.