Bill Johnston came to Richmond from a small country town in Victoria’s Western District making his senior debut in 1939-40 as a result of capturing 48 wickets in the club’s second and third elevens.
The 190 cm bowler known as “Big” Bill spent 20 years at Richmond and left in 1959 with an incredible tally of 452 wickets from 132 senior games, the second highest tally of dismissals in the clubs history, and he played a major role in Richmond’s first Premiership win of 1946-47.
Bill’s long left arm delivered swing, seam, cut or spin to suit the conditions, and with such skill that Sir Donald Bradman rated him “Australia’s finest left- arm bowler”.
He would normally field in the outfield and had such a strong throw that during his time playing baseball for the Richmond Cricketers, threw a ball 375 feet 6.5 inches (approx. 115 Metres), a junior World Record.
During his time at Punt Road he was Club Champion twice, won the Bowling Award a record equalling 6 times and was a popular captain of the first eleven from 1955 to 1959.
Bill played 56 first class games for Victoria capturing 192 wickets in his 10 year career of 142 games, and took a total of 554 first class wickets. The scoreboard at the Punt Road ground carries his name along with that of his great Richmond, Victorian and Australian team mate Doug Ring.
With Australian teams he toured England in 1948 (Taking 103 wickets) and 1953. He performed with his normal skill for Australia in South Africa and the West Indies. In 40 Test matches for Australia he took 160 wickets and to this day remains as Richmond’s greatest International bowler.
During his time in the game Bill Johnston was recognised by team mates and opponents as one of the most happy and popular players in world cricket.
In 1954 Bill was granted Life Membership of the Richmond Cricket Club, he was selected in both the Victorian and Richmond Teams of the Century and inducted as an inaugural member of the Tigers’ Hall of Fame in 2009, and then in 2017 he was awarded the Club’s highest honour and now becomes the club’s second Immortal.