Streatham Redskins’ Joe Johnston claims he was ‘born with hockey kit on’ after becoming third in sporting dynasty to don skates

Thirty years after first pulling on his skates, Streatham Redskins’ Joe Johnston still has the same burning ambition – to win something with his boyhood heroes.

“If we won anything I would just retire on the spot, I think,” admitted the 34-year-old captain.

Retirement would end a long association with a game whose roots in this country are deeply meshed with his own lineage.

“People have said ‘you were born with a hockey kit on’,” laughed the Streatham native, whose grandfather Alex was an established referee, and Uncle Jim a player with the Redskins.

Johnston’s own meteoric rise through the Redskins ranks saw him make his senior début aged just 13.

“I got murdered,” he recalled. “There were grown men that didn’t care that I was a 13-year-old with a blazer and a tie. But it got me used to being hit.”

Streatham folded the following season, but Johnston’s umbilical ties to the club led to an emotional reunion when the Redskins were reborn in 2003.

A year-long flirtation with rivals Invicta Dynamos brought a league title, but the winger’s current Redskins spell has coincided with a move to a new arena in SW16, a return freighted with emotional symbolism for the proud Streatham man.

“The first game we had there was probably one of my biggest highlights,” he said.

“The stands were full and we had gone full circle.”

However, Streatham’s amateur status requires judicious juggling of Johnston’s work and Redskins schedules.

“When you’re starting a shift at four am and you’re coming back from a Cardiff away trip, that’s difficult,” he revealed.

“It’s not unusual to finish a shift, have a sleep in the car for a couple of hours and then get up and play a game.”

Despite these sacrifices he retains a boyish affection for the game he recognises will soon retire from.

“I still have a huge passion for it but I know I’m slowing down,” he says. “That time is not too far away.”

After a lifetime’s devotion to Streatham, a taste of hometown glory would be a fitting way for Johnston to sign off.

Related Articles