Chris Johns - in conversation with Jamie Megarry

Posted : 4th May 2022

Chris Johns spoke to Jamie Megarry of official Linfield media following Saturday’s Premiership decider at Windsor Park against Coleraine.

Linfield goalkeeper Chris Johns was delighted to win the title on Saturday. For the Waringstown native it was a second title in as many seasons – both incidentally clinched against his former team Coleraine whom he joined the Blues from in 2020 – but because his debut season was largely played behind closed doors or with limited crowds, in comparison to this season with an average attendance of around 3,000, Chris says this one is extra special.

“It feels unbelievable to win the title. For some reason it feels more emotional this year. Last year seemed to be 11 v 11, pre-season, no crowds… that sort of flat feeling. When you play in front of crowds, it’s like army versus army, so it’s a completely different feeling. It’s been a very enjoyable season and to finish it like this, just tops it, so I’m absolutely buzzing.”

Chris, who turns 27 next week, says that although the Blues were largely written off before a ball was kicked this season, the internal standards didn’t drop.

“Were we expected to challenge this season? I don’t know. Whatever people say on the outside, ultimately the expectations within this club are to win every trophy you compete for, and we are a bit disappointed we didn’t go further in the Cup competitions. However, to win the league is very, very special because it’s what you work hard for all year.”

What shouldn’t go unnoticed and arguably hasn’t been highlighted to the extent it deserves, is the fact that the Blues conceded only 24 goals across 38 league matches this season. Linfield’s number one, Chris Johns kept 24 clean sheets in 48 appearances in all competitions and 19 clean sheets in 36 league matches but he humbly diverts any praise to his teammates.

“Honestly, I’ve barely had a shot to save this whole season. The whole team defensively has been superb. The pressing we’ve done, and the last ditch defending...Niall Quinn’s last-minute block on the line against Ballymena comes to mind, as well as Trai Hume’s goalline clearance against Glentoran. The whole team has been absolutely superb and it’s been an absolute joy to be a part of.

“The gaffer has recruited brilliantly. Ben Hall has been superb and what a header to help get us over the line on Saturday. Sam Roscoe is an absolutely brilliant centre half. Jimmy Callacher has been a stalwart for the club and is as solid as anything. Clarkey, Quinny, Trai Hume before he left, Ross Larkin, Michael Newberry, Conor Pepper… all the back players, every single one of them played their part across the season. You also have the likes of Jordan Stewart pressing from the front which is important.”

The players and staff will all get a break now, before the Blues return to compete in Europe and all eyes will be on the UEFA Champions League draw on June 14 to find out who the Blues will face 5/6 July and 12/13 July.

“I love football, although in some ways I’ll enjoy a break, I’ll look forward to going again next season in a month or two when we enter the UEFA Champions League Qualifiers. It’s always a great experience and this is an enjoyable group to be a part of.”

Congratulations to Chris who adds to his League and Irish Cup medals from last season and well done to the reliable shot-stopper for a great season between the sticks.

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