In August 2010, Huddersfield Town under the management of Lee Clark, signed experienced midfielder Damien Johnson from Plymouth Argyle, initially on loan with a view to something more permanent.
Johnson was tough in the tackle and seemingly possessed the lung power of a galloping distance runner, his all-action style was exactly what Clark and Huddersfield needed. Understandably some of the more ‘traditional’ Huddersfield fans could have been forgiven for worrying that Damien Johnson, who stood at 5ft 9in and looked like he need a good feed, could struggle with the physicality of League One football, but what the Northern Irish international lacked in stature, he more than made up for in fight, determination and footballing prowess.
His energy, aggression and commitment were all qualities that ensured the Blue and White accepted him willingly into the hearts. Johnson’s tenacity would complement the flair of Roberts and Pilkington in the midfield quartet.
Having put pen to paper August 5th, he would make his debut just 2 days later in a 3-0 victory at Notts County. The then, 32-year-old midfielder featured 23 times for the Terriers in his first season, his season was cut short when he suffered a cruciate ligament injury, despite missing half of the season he would still be nominated for ‘Player of the Year’. If that doesn’t emphasise his impact, then I’m not sure what does. To only play half of the season and still be recognised as one of the best squad members is some going.
His ability was clear for all to see and I mean no disrespect to those who had gone before, but I remember going to games with my brother and being completely and utterly enveloped in his composure and simplicity to work the ball around teams, something that we were never truly able to do before.
Having spent almost 8 years at Birmingham, making over 180 appearances for the midlands club, Johnson was once described by his then Birmingham Alex McLeish, as: “a terrier of a player” and with this, I cannot help but wonder if he would have suited the current Town squad and David Wagner’s Terrier Identity?
Having decided to hang up his playing boots, Johnson immediately turned his attentions to coaching, gaining the necessary qualifications and experience. He would return to his footballing beginnings, working for Blackburn Rover as U14’s academy coach, before a brief stint with Jim Magilton and the Northern Ireland U21’s. In July 2015 Damien returned to Ewood Park and now works as head coach for the U21’s.
I know for a fact if he had played all of the 09/10 season, he would have had no competition for “Player of the Year”.
Ooh to be a…