Paul Johnston is almost part of the furniture at the Union Cricket Club. The veteran spin bowler claimed his 400th senior wicket this season, his 21st at the top level of club cricket, and is nearing 250 senior games. He talks to Hayden Meikle
Q: How old are you, Paul?
Q: What do you do for a crust?
I work at Brackens Print. I’ve been there 18 years, I think.
Q: Has cricket always been part of your life?
Yeah, it has. It probably stems from my Nana, actually. She was cricket nuts. She’d be up in the middle of the night, watching test matches, and I think that’s where I got my love from sport. I didn’t really play organised cricket till I hit high school. I just carried on from there.
Q: Do you remember anything about your first game for Union?
I think it might have been against Albion at the Showgrounds. Our senior reserve team went up and played in seniors for the holiday competition back in those days. I suppose they count, but we got a few hidings. But I think my first full game was against Albion. I probably didn’t feature too much.
Q: Have you had a few memorable team-mates over 21 seasons?
There have been so many. We did a thing when Glynn Cameron got to 300 games and went through all the players who had debuted since he started. It was 230 or something crazy. I’ve made a lot of good friends through cricket, right since high school. A lot of guys move overseas. But the big thing about Union is that everyone gets on. It’s a bit of a family. You play together and it’s almost like you’re instant mates.
Q: Most memorable individual performance?
I took a seven-for in a holiday competition final against Valley a long time ago. But probably just winning Borton Cups is the most memorable thing. I was lucky enough to be captain for a couple of those.
Q: Nice feeling to get 400 senior wickets?
Yeah. I didn’t even realise I was close. Then Scotty Cameron told me I wasn’t far away. You start wondering when that wicket will finally come around. Luckily I got there.
Q: Given any thought to retirement?
That was two seasons ago, ha ha. I’m trying to step back, and to spend a bit more time with my kids. They’re 4 and 6. I don’t want their memories of growing up to be Dad at cricket all the time. It’s all about player numbers. I’d love to be able to step back and have three or four young guys step into senior cricket but where do they come from? I’ve stepped up to president of the club this year and my plan was to concentrate on that. I’m still doing both, and it’s pretty full-on. Applying for grants, sorting out gear, dealing with the groundsman – just so much goes on behind the scenes. I’m lucky to have Pete Cameron and Neville Donaldson, both past presidents, to show me the ropes.
Q: It must have stung Union not to make the Borton Cup final last year. How do you think the team is placed to win it back?
get to the semifinals and anyone can win it. It’s just two games. But we’ve had enough guys play in finals. You’ve just got to back yourself to win it.
Q: As the story goes, the Union team lost the original Borton Cup on a famous night out a few years ago. Do you know where it is?
I’d love to know. I remember having a drink out of it at the nightclub and then I went home. The next day I got a text asking if it had gone home with me. Ah, no.