Table-topping Louis’ call out of the blue from Leiston

LEISTON’S Louis Johnson wants to be remembered as a “really good goalkeeper” when he calls time on his career.

The 28-year-old has gone from playing for a struggling Debenham LC side, who were relegated from the Ridgeons League Premier Division last season, to the top of Ryman League Division One North via Hadleigh United inside 12 months.

Johnson joined Stuart Crawford’s Hadleigh last February and remained their No.1 choice this season until a call out of the blue at the start of October.

“I had a telephone call from Stuart asking ‘would you be interested in joining a Ryman League team?’ and I said that if I had a chance I would.

“Half-an-hour later he called back and said he had sorted out a transfer fee and the next day I signed my Ryman League forms at Beacon Hills Service Station on the A14 in the morning and made my debut for Leiston at Heybridge that evening!”

Leiston manager Mark Morsley signed Johnson due to a back injury sustained by Jamie Stannard – and he hasn’t looked back since, keeping Stannard out of the side.

Johnson, who is ironically married to Stannard’s cousin, said: “Jamie and I get on fine. He realises the club wanted to bring in competition for him, and if it had not been me it would have been someone else.”

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And Johnson is now relishing life in the Ryman League.

He said: “It is a nice challenge for me because I knew who I was playing against in the Ridgeons League, but now I don’t know who I am going to be playing against and I am really enjoying it.

“At Debenham we turned up and we had a good craic, especially in my first year when we got promoted to the Premier Division, even though we weren’t getting paid to play. Then I went to Hadleigh and the club was more professionally organised and I got paid a bit to play.

“But it is completely different here. There is food laid on after training and it makes you want to be a part of the club.

“I would like to go higher, but when I have finished playing I want people to say ‘he was a really good goalkeeper’ and remember me for that, but I have still got to prove myself at this level.”

Johnson started his career at Woodbridge Athletic as a 16-year-old, before joining Debenham LC when they were a Division One side. After winning Division One Debenham gained promotion to the Ridgeons League when they finished runners-up to East Bergholt in the Senior Division.

But after Kevin Holland was brought in as the No.1 keeper, Johnson left and joined Framlingham Town for half a season before switching to Grundisburgh the following season. He spent two years with the village side, winning the SIL league title, Suffolk Senior Cup and the Omnico Cup.

Then it was back to Debenham and during his two-and-a-half years there he helped them win promotion to the Ridgeons League Premier Division, claiming the third and final promotion spot thanks to a 7-0 win at March Town United on the final day of the season.

Debenham retained their top-flight status the following season and it was in February last year that he signed for the Brettsiders, before that phone call out of the blue elevated him up another level.

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