Family, Football and Friends – John Robson on his life in non-league football

John Robson has published a book called Family, Football and Friends describing his involvement in non-league football.

Friday, 12th April 2019, 2:22 pm
Updated Friday, 12th April 2019, 2:27 pm
John Robson. Picture: Malcolm Wells ( 051670-73 )
John Robson. Picture: Malcolm Wells ( 051670-73 )

The book is full of stories and anecdotes covering the highs and lows of his many years in the game.

Brought up in the north-east Robbo first moved into the area early in the 1970s after joining the Army.

He played at Basingstoke Town and then under the encouragement of chairman Peter Faulkner joined Waterlooville.

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The book Family, Football and Friends by John Robson

After a brief spell with St Johnstone in Scotland he returned to play for Ville.

When his playing days finished Robson turned to coaching and was involved in that capacity and as manager at a host of local clubs.

These included Gosport Borough, Petersfield Town, Worthing, Winchester City, Camberley Town, Southwick, with Alan Mullery.

He rates the Worthing team of the early 1990s as the best side he was involved with.

In 1994 they reached the first round of the FA Cup where they lost 3-1 against Bournemouth at Dean Court.

Robbo recounts many characters and incidents illustrating the wonderful world of non-league football.

One of his highlights was a surprise appearance at Wembley in the 1990s.

He said: ‘I had become a good friend of Peter Osgood who lived at Waltham Chase and he’d been asked to field a team for a charity game at Wembley.

‘He invited me to go up with others like Alan Ball and Alan Hudson and told me to bring my gear.

‘When we got there he announced that I was playing centre-forward because his knees were shot to pieces.

‘We played a Northern Ireland team picked by Gerry Armstrong and we won the game 4-2.

‘It is every kids dream to play at Wembley and I consider myself very lucky to achieve it.’

His lowest moment came when he was sacked by Winchester City in 2004 on the eve of an FA Vase semi-final.

He added: ‘I was about to take the team for training when the chairman called me in and told me he didn’t think I was the right man for the job.

‘We hadn’t lost a game so I couldn’t understand it.

‘Years later I discovered my contract and it turned out they would have had to pay me £40,000 if they’d won the Vase.

‘The chairman admitted they couldn't afford it.’

The book is on sale next week priced at £12.