Flashback - John Robson returns to Petersfield Town in 2016Flashback - John Robson returns to Petersfield Town in 2016
Flashback - John Robson returns to Petersfield Town in 2016

'We're overwhelmed' - Family's thanks following passing of highly-respected former non-league manager John Robson

Darren Robson admits his family have been “overwhelmed” by well-wishers following the passing of his father, the highly-respected former non-league football manager John Robson.

John, who played for Waterlooville in the 1970s prior to embarking on a long managerial career, had been living in a care home in Emsworth. He was 77.

Highlights of his career in the dugout included leading Worthing into the Isthmian League Premier in 1995 and taking Alton Town into the Wessex League seven years later.

He also masterminded great FA Cup days for both clubs - taking Worthing to AFC Bournemouth in the first round proper in 1994/95 and leading Alton to a shock 2-1 win at then Isthmian Premier leaders Sutton in 2010.

Regarding the amount of people who have been in touch to pay tribute to his father, Darren told The News: “It’s been crazy, out of control really.

“As a family we’ve been overwhelmed by the comments we’ve received - there’s been some really poignant stuff.

“People I’ve never spoken to before have got in touch to say dad was such an influence on their careers, people who I didn’t even know had played for him.

“I always knew he was a fantastic technician, but I didn’t know what a fantastic man manager he was and how he mentored so many young players.

“I know he was my dad, but it’s still been a real eye-opener for me.”

Robson – a passionate Sunderland fan, he has a brick with his name on at the Stadium of Light – played as a centre forward in Scotland for Kilmarnock and St Johnstone.

After leaving the Army in the mid 1970s, he played for Waterlooville, Basingstoke, Farnborough and Bognor Regis before moving into coaching.

In one of his early managerial roles he took Petersfield into the Isthmian League before spending time under former England international Alan Mullery at Sussex club Southwick.

Robson was understudy to ex-Northern Ireland World Cup star Gerry Armstrong at Worthing, before taking over from him in the summer of 1994 and winning promotion at the first attempt.

Worthing finished bottom of the Isthmian Premier in his second season, though, and he left the club, later coaching Hampshire under-18s before taking over at Alton.

There he won his first Hampshire League title, only to leave for a stint at Isthmian League club Camberley.

Returning to Alton in 2001, he guided the club to another Hampshire League title, winning 31 of their 40 games and beating off the challenges of East Cowes, Winchester City and Poole Town.

Head-hunted by Winchester at the end of 2001/02, Robson had taken City to the top of the Hampshire League table when he was surprisingly sacked in early 2003.

He took over at AFC Totton shortly after and within months was lifting silverware again, the Stags beating league champions Eastleigh 2-0 in the Wessex League Cup final at Newbury.

After a spell at Southern Leaguers Bashley, Robson’s next Wessex League challenge was at Gosport Borough, where he was again surprisingly sacked in December 2005 - after a 4-0 win at Alresford in the Hampshire Senior Cup’s last 16.

Gosport had also recently gone eight games without conceding a goal.

A third stint at Alton saw Robson oversee the famous 2-1 win against Paul Doswell’s Sutton at Gander Green Lane - Alton having gone into the tie on the back of conceding 23 goals in six Wessex fixtures.

Robson added Blackfield & Langley to his Wessex managerial CV before a spell as assistant to Neil Benson at Andover Town in 2015/16.

He returned to Petersfield after a 30-year absence in October 2016 with the Rams struggling in the Southern League.

Bizarrely, he was sacked just a month into the job before chairman Graeme Moir reinstated him a few days later.

However, Robson did depart a few months later - resigning at half-time of a 4-2 home loss to Kidlington in March 2017.

John’s funeral takes place on Thursday May 23 at the Oaks Crematorium in Barton Road, Havant, at 1.45pm. The wake is at Westleigh Park, home of Havant & Waterlooville FC.