James "Jimmy" Johnston

Jimmy Johnston's lives, footballing and personal seemed fairly straight-forward. He was born in 1866 in Johnstone, played for Paisley's Abercorn from 1886-91, winning a single cap in 1888 as a half-back, and emigrated for good to the United States in 1891, dying there in 1952. In fact his story is far more nuanced. 

Jimmy was born in Johnstone, on the High St.. He was one of eight children, his parents local, his father a pattern-maker. He worked first as a print compositor but switched to be a Machinist. Meantime he had begun hometown football with Johnstone before in 1886 stepping up at just twenty to Abercorn in neighbouring Paisley, a "classic and stylish half-back". He had represented Renfrewshire whilst at his first club. At twenty-one he won a single cap in 1888 in the match before Scotland made the first, failed attempt to play the Renton Cross. And there may have been more to come except that in the summer of 1891 he made the decision to emigrate to the USA. He went first to New York but found his way to Rhode Island. 

It may have been serendipity but the football scene there was developing strongly, not least because of the input of Scots and it may well have been that in 1892 he was possibly turning out for Metropole from Providence and certainly for Pawtucket Free Wanderers for the next season and two more, winning from centre-half the American Cup in 1893.

Jimmy then seems to have retired from playing, aged twenty-nine, but remained in Pawtucket. In 1900 he is a Machinist, boarding in the town. But he was to return to Scotland, not least because in 1903 in Campbeltown from an address back in Johnston he married an Argyll girl, Mary McGeachy. 

The couple, however, would not remain in Scotland. They returned to Pawtucket, there having two children, a boy and a girl, would make a trip home in 1907, probably due to Jimmy's father's death, but otherwise live out their lives mostly in a single house in the New England town. Mary would die there in 1940. Jimmy would move in with his son's family close by and at the age of eighty-three die there in 1952. And they all are buried in the local Swan Point Cemetery.

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