Johnson had been on Southport’s books under Billy Bingham in 1967 but never made it into the Football League side. Ably assisted by Len Traynor, Johnson assembled the best squad of the early eighties. The footballing side became secondary at times under Johnson with at one point being linked with a consortium who took over the running of the club for a month. Upon Gary Culshaw’s appointment as chairman, Johnson was part of the board along with Barry Hedley, Traynor and latterly Charlie Powell. In the March 1983 Johnson’s involvement ended owing to “numerous personal difficulties” and acting coach George Ross took up the reins temporarily before being offered the job permanently for the start of the 1983/84 season.