'One of life’s true gentleman' - tributes paid to former Wick and Ferring manager

Tributes have been paid to local sporting figure Norman Johnson, 80, who died recently in a Worthing Nursing Home.

Monday, 7th September 2020, 6:52 am
Updated Monday, 7th September 2020, 6:58 am
Worthing United team mid 1960’s at their end of season celebration

Born in 1940, a prolific schoolboy football having been invited by Chelsea for a trial Johnson decided instead to join the Royal Marines.

During his service for Queen and Country Johnson became the regimental Heavyweight Boxing Champion.

On leaving the Marines Johnson played both local football, including the original Worthing United club, and cricket for Lancing Manor.

Norman Johnson with his Wigmore side circa 1979-80

But it was in his post playing career that Johnson achieved both recognition and success as manager, taking of charge of Wick, Wigmore, and Ferring at County League Level.

Former Worthing and Wigmore defender Ricky Sopp said: “Norman was one of life’s true gentleman, always had a smile on his face and it was a pleasure to have known him, rest in peace Norm.”

Storrington manager, Bob Paine, who played under Johnson at Wigmore added: “Norman was an imposing manager, but really a gentile giant. He knew his stuff and you knew when he wasn’t happy, but he always had time for his players off the field, I enjoyed my time playing for him in the early part of my career, my thoughts are with his family at this sad time.”

After managing the Inland Revenue side in the Worthing League, Johnson assisted a then teenage Nigel Waller, when he ran a Worthing United Youth side from Under 9 in 1987.

Nigel said: “Norman’s son Greg played in goal for us, Norm was a tough cookie but he knew his football and was well liked by both the the kids and the parents.”

Survived by his wife Kate, daughter Fleur, son Greg and his grandchildren , Norman’s service has taken place but donations in his memory can be sent to Worthing United Youth, towards the development of their changing facilities at Hill Barn, c/o Ian Hart Funeral Services 92-94 Broadwater Street West, Worthing BN14 9DE Tel 01903 206299.